The last eleven months have seen a focus on flexibility, innovation, and immediate action. As lockdown rules chop and change, and different rules apply to different sectors, the pandemic has been a time of crisis response and immediate action. Businesses have had to think on their feet and roll with the punches, continuously adapting to change and constraint, with an emphasis on immediacy and the immediate future.
But nearly a year into the pandemic, with a vaccine rollout underway, we're starting to see the path towards recovery. The frantic scrabble to pivot and adapt at the start of the crisis is gradually shifting towards a focus on foresight and long-term recovery. We need to keep an emphasis on the here and now, whilst also turning one eye to the horizon.
For many of us, we need to prioritise the immediate actions that will see our businesses through the coming weeks and months, but we also need to begin looking to the future to carve out a path that will help us survive, and thrive, post-pandemic.
As we move out of winter and towards brighter days, we need to balance our short-term mission to survive with our longer-term vision to thrive, and bridge the gap from damage control to sustained growth.
Here's how to plan for navigating your business out of the pandemic.
Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow
To survive and thrive, cash flow is your business's lifeline. The unpredictability of the coming weeks and months means businesses need to be proactive and make both short-term and long-term cash flow a priority.
To ensure a steady and predictable cash flow, you need reliable and sturdy systems in place. Do you have a really strong accounting and bookkeeping setup? Are you using technology to streamline everyday tasks and help you keep an eye on the numbers?
The most successful businesses are also the ones who are actively looking ahead. They always keep an eye on the horizon, with a clear sense of what their business might look like 3, 6, or even 9 months down the line. Long-term forecasting is the key to unlocking future growth.
As society starts to reopen, what might that look like for your business? What restrictions and short-term measures are in place now that can be lifted post-pandemic? Using forecasting software to model different scenarios and the impact they might have on your cash flow is key to helping you understand what the future might like post-pandemic, and how you can plan for it.
When it comes to cash, keep the short-term and long-term bases covered.
Planning for change
As we move forward, it's time to think about tentatively putting the plans in place for when society reopens again. The most successful businesses will be the ones on the front foot, already looking ahead and planning their next steps out of the pandemic.
When it comes to your business, what needs to change and what needs to stay the same? How will you prepare for previous revenue streams to return and shifts in customer demand? As things start to reopen, and previous sources of income are back on the table, it might also be time to expand your team shortly down the line.
As we shift into the next phase of the pandemic, it might also be time to shift your business model. Are there any short-term changes and innovations that can be altered or phased out post-pandemic?
2020 gave birth to a huge shift in remote teams and more flexible work cultures, as people flocked from offices and business premises to homeworking. With Zoom and remote working as the new default, we've become more tech-focused, more time focused, and more adaptable to change. In fact, change has become the new normal.
It's now up to us to decide which elements of this will stay and which will go.
How can you adapt for long-term change? Can you take the best parts from the way things are and the way things were pre-pandemic, and blend them to create the best of both worlds? Or do you envision something entirely different for your business altogether?
Hire a great accountant
Whatever your plans are, you'll need a great accountant by your side. Someone who's focused on helping you achieve your goals.
A good accountant can help you keep on top of cash flow, helping you secure the funding to make it through the short term, and the financing to propel you to your next level of success. A proactive accountant will want to understand your goals and where you want to be, and they'll make it their mission to help you navigate the way ahead and prepare your business for life post-pandemic.
Business as unusual
As a full year of lockdown approaches, it's unlikely that we'll return to absolute normal, but we're certainly making small and positive shifts forward.
The end of the pandemic will likely also see shifts in new directions. The immediate scramble to pivot for the pandemic and survive is now behind us– the new challenge is how businesses are going to ride the wave of change.
Whatever that change might look like, we'll need to stay flexible, adaptable, and open-minded, to balance short-term and long-term thinking, with one eye forward and one eye on the here and now, and prepare for business as unusual.