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Many of us are going through the grieving process right now and it has put us into a fearful place.

Fear about the pandemic and fear about the economy and that is understandable. Each and every one of us is at a different stage on that journey but I have now spoken to a rising number of business owners looking to evolve their businesses and a few that have the opportunity to quickly scale.

Let’s assume your businesses are viable for the long term; we will focus on the changes we are seeing, how you will respond to them and start working on lessons learnt and the strategy to move forward.

In many cases it may be too soon to make the physical investment, for some maybe not, but it is time to start working on a strategy. It is important to conserve cash now but if you wait to develop a strategy until the economy starts to turn, you may find yourself behind the curve.

How are you going to respond because there is no standing still, there is withering on the vine or growing?

In this article I want to share some initial thoughts which will evolve as time goes on.

Should you focus on existing clients/customers or look for new customers?

The answer is “and” not ”or”.

It makes sense to start with existing clients/customers as you are a known entity and have hopefully built up goodwill and trust. What else could you sell them? A large arborist with a fleet of trucks for spraying trees is rolling out disinfectant applications for outdoor hardscape applications which are COVID compliant.

Wineries traditionally sold their product through the 3-tier system of producers to wholesalers to retailers to consumers but over the last few years had begun to do more direct to consumer marketing. Those who invested early are now finding that investment paying dividends as other wineries try to play catch up.

Let us not beat about the bush however, not every business will find it easy to change. If you are a traditional bricks and mortar business transitioning to on-line is at best a major investment and at worst a losing battle. As an example, the big retailers like John Lewis and Debenhams (if they survive) are going to have much fewer sites and will do more business on-line. However, before COVID we had begun to see stores delivering and orders online and picked up in store (click and collect).

What if going forward there are more consolidated pick up points for delivery’s and returns, that do not need to be in the priciest property areas. I will continue to monitor this area as I expect many changes to develop in the coming months – industry experts in my network share this view.

Hard sell or soft sell?

Right now, it is my personal belief that people are turned off by the hard sell. The want to talk to people who have empathy, who want to genuinely help/provide a service. Personally, I have done no cold calling and have focused solely on my existing clients. Through my channel partners I have let it be known that I will take on one or two “love clients” who may be smaller businesses and/or cash strapped businesses. It is my way of giving back.

Joe Wicks started offering free 30 minutes keep fit classes to kids when the schools closed down on 23rd March. As of the middle of June he has had over 22 million viewers and major artists and brands reaching out to partner with him. He also is now the Guinness record holder for 955,000 tuning to his YouTube channel for a single event. He now has a global brand which in time will reap major rewards, but it does not appear he had that in mind when he started this initiative, he merely wanted to help in a time of need and for now is donating any proceeds from this venture to the NHS. (In full disclosure he had written some bestselling cookery books and he had an on-line presence, his is an extreme example of pulling people in and not trying to sell (push) your products.)

There is no doubt that our infrastructure and particularly our technology infrastructure was tested to and in many cases beyond capacity.

From supply chain management to remote workers to sales platforms; they were often found wanting. If we accept that more people will be working remotely and on-line sales will continue to grow, but at a much faster pace then what do you need to invest in now.

 

It is going to be wide ranging, but some examples are workflow systems in construction for back office, digital collaboration and on-sire execution.

 

What about small businesses? There will need to be standardisation, otherwise collaboration will be less productive.

– It is a lot easier to track on-line sales so look for a rise in easy to use CRM’s like Pipedrive and Pipeline.

– We are quite likely to see more of a hybrid working environment with more remote workers. One client has already called me to discuss downsizing their existing space; reconfiguring the space for work sharing and looking at beefing up the infrastructure for people to work remotely. Doing the heavy thinking remotely and meeting in the office to collaborate.

– Platforms like Asana, Slack, Teams and Hangouts to allow teams to collaborate real time.

– There will some serious legal challenges to this notion but what about all depositions and notarisation going online. I am sure there is a technology solution out there, also, how difficult would it be for say a DocuSign to incorporate notarisation into their offerings?

– So how about your business? What infrastructure do you need to invest in? I challenge any business owner to call me and if I can’t demonstrate something in this area, I will give them a voucher for a coffee of their choice.

In summary we are focusing on:

  • Developing a vision and strategy.
  • Leveraging the existing customer base while being empathetic to their needs.
  • Taking a hard look at existing infrastructure and identifying what needs beefing up.

Have the strategy ready now and invest when the time is right; stay ahead of the curve.

At Catandra, we scale businesses by drawing on the experience of owning and running companies. We also have the IP to develop a vision, experience to create appropriate strategies and a coaching modality to transfer skills into the business. Right now, our focus is on helping business owners to survive now and then thrive as markets return.

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