The pandemic’s effect on the global economy has been severe and long-lasting – and we probably won’t understand exactly how severe it’s been until decades in the future. Owners of businesses, small and large, have been struggling to stay afloat: and they’ve been disheartened by the introduction of lockdown after lockdown, with no real end in sight.
In January, the 7-day average for new cases peaked at just under 60,000, setting a new record. GDP in the UK had slumped in October to around 7.9% less than the total in February, and, though we’d seen six months of consecutive growth at that point, it’s unlikely that the feat will be repeated through this new phase of lockdown.
So how are businesses to protect themselves in these inhospitable conditions? Let’s take a look at six strategies worth investigating.
Consider your insurance
It might be that you can cover your business against sudden loss caused by a global pandemic. Many businesses found themselves unprotected by their insurer in 2020, and became exposed to sudden and unexpected risk. For this reason, it’s worth planning for the next crisis as early as possible, and considering the range of products offered by insurers like Gallagher.
Redraft the business plan
What worked for the your business in the economic climate of 2019 might not be quite so effective in 2021. Your business plan might be riddled with assumptions that no longer stand up to scrutiny. Take a look through it, and see if there’s anything that doesn’t add up.
Set a timeline for rebuilding
It’s a good time to start drafting a timeline for your recovery. Try to follow the S.M.A.R.T. approach to planning – that is, to devise a plan that’s specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Of course, a great deal will depend on what happens with the medical and political situation, so make sure you devise plans for a range of contingencies.
Ask yourself what your customers want
Over lockdown, your customer’s attitudes and preferences might well have changed considerably. Many of the habits they’ve picked up will be with them for a long time; others will be dropped almost immediately. This concern applies especially to businesses which have made the switch to online sales – you’ll want to know whether your customers want you to switch back, and to what extent.
Keep your staff onside
Your staff are the people who’ll put your plans into action. Make sure that they know that you’re looking out for their interests. Unemployment is currently high at 4.9% – but that will almost certainly change as restrictions are eased and the opportunities for work become more plentiful. You can expect unhappy workers to start jumping ship if you don’t give them a reason to stay.
Consider funding sources
In challenging times, a lack of cash can be a problem for businesses which rely on liquidity. Make sure that you’ve got an adequate cushion available, so that you can keep trading while you adjust to the post-lockdown period. This might mean seeking out a specialised online lender, or perhaps applying for government support.