It is true that the country is in a state of lockdown and your business could be sputtering. But don’t lose hope. Like Benjamin Franklin said, Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. So drop the tactical thinking and prepare. This is the best time to stress test your business idea. Open your mind, think, introspect, innovate and plan for the future.
Smart framework to plan in these troubled times
1. Confront Reality
This is about taking account of the realities of the market that your brand wishes to navigate. Think through if the product/service that you offer and its value proposition to the customer/target market.
Ask the following questions
- What is my product’s relevance to the customer in different environments?
- Is it an all-weather product/service or is it something that the customer can do away with?.
- How can I adapt the business to deliver to customers in the current context?
- How can I leverage the market volatility?
While you do that, it is also important to evaluate the finances of the firm. Map out the best and worst-case revenue scenarios and re-calibrate the financial projections. We need to adapt to the new environments by thinking out of our comfort zone. But at the same time, let us protect our people. Be grateful to the team. There is also a need for a helping hand especially for support staff like Housekeeping, Office Assistants, Drivers, etc.
2. Anticipate Trends:
‘Prediction is hard’ especially of the future. This is an area where business owners should spend their time on. Do a little crystal ball gazing and plot the different business scenarios that will play out once the COVID carnage is over.
For instance, remote working could become a norm across different types of business. It is a good idea to draft a framework for remote working including processes and tools so that everyone involved knows about the etiquette and deliverables. This may even bring down the cost of doing business in many cases as fixed overhead would reduce.
Malcolm Raphael, Head of Trade Marketing and Innovations at the Times Group predicts that the food industry may modify its business models to suit smaller dining areas and larger kitchens to facilitate deliveries. The travel industry may see a lot more of domestic travel than the international jamborees and preventive healthcare could surge.
Some of the thoughts for you to ponder upon are
- How will these overall behavioural changes affect my business?
- What will be the priority of our customers?
- Where will our product/service fit in their hierarchy of priorities?
- Should we re-calibrate our business model?
- What are the overall changes that will shape consumer behaviour?
Analyse your own product/service
- Demand vs supply
- Key Market segments
- Key Growth drivers
- Likely Challenges
Will this guarantee or ensure success? Who knows, this is not after all an easy thing to do, but isn’t it better to be prepared than feeling sorry!
3. Set clear Objectives:
It is important to recalibrate your objectives and write a business plan for your brand based on market realities and trends. This will also allow us to put matters in perspective rather than brood over the ramifications of the present world order on our business. I suggest we use the widely accepted SMART framework to set our objectives.
4. Set specific goals:
Specific goals are well defined and clear on what needs to be completed. What outcomes do you need to see in order to consider the objective fulfilled? Set real numbers and deadlines.
5. Measure your progress:
The objective should be measurable and you should be able to track your progress. Create a framework to evaluate if the objective is being achieved. And remember, it is best to use quantifiable metrics.
6. Set Attainable goals:
The objectives set should be realistic and attainable in the context of the environment and available resources. The goal should be challenging to achieve but not impossible if we try sincerely.
7. Be Realistic:
The objectives and goals must represent something that both the business owner and the team members are willing to work towards. Be honest with yourself. You know what you and your team are capable and don’t forget the hurdles that you may have to cross!
8. Remember to be Time-Bound:
The objective should include a time limit and clearly specify by when it will be completed. It will encourage a sense of urgency and prompt better time management practices. Don’t keep pushing towards a goal that you might hit someday.
Like the acclaimed author, Robin Sharma puts it
“Protect your hope and remember that heroes are made in hard times. Get stronger, wiser, creative and more productive. Be opportunity focussed and not fear centric and leverage the volatility!”