By Sean Farnell, Partner
All signs are pointing towards further restrictions being placed on us all here in the UK, just as businesses are starting to build up some momentum.
While it seems unlikely that any further rules will be quite as severe as those places on individuals and firms back in March, businesses across the country will be bracing and preparing for the difficulties of the coming autumn and winter.
However, there are reasons to be positive, as the nation is certainly more prepared than it was six months ago – and business owners will certainly have learnt lessons from what happened back in March.
Many businesses saw the restrictions coming from early March, but when Boris Johnson addressed the nation, many others were completely unprepared for the speed and severity of restrictions.
The majority of companies closed their premises overnight and were forced to assess how they could adapt their ways of work.
With this rush and panic, without a shadow of a doubt some businesses failed to communicate with their customers in a way which should usually be normal practice.
Most customers are happy to help and assist suppliers as long as they are kept in the loop, but in the first few weeks of lockdown payments were missed and a lack of communication certainly damaged relationships in certain sectors.
Businesses suddenly went into panic mode, rather than sitting down and rationalising what their position would be and how that impacts their staff, customer service, productivity and future sales pipelines.
There was a lot of kneejerk reaction, planning went out the window and the eye was taken off the ball.
At Burgis & Bullock, we have been stressing the importance of planning ever since and are encouraging clients to produce flexible plans not only for the next four months, but for 2021 and beyond.
The ‘work from home’ culture has been a massive change and will only benefit business moving forwards in the pandemic.
Implementation of new technology over lockdown was beyond belief, and I think the pandemic has pushed the adoption of technology in the UK forward by five years in a matter of months.
The importance of having a community with family, social or with work has become important too.
We hold a daily team meeting now and are probably talking to each other more than when we were in the office.
That has been a boom to productivity and teamwork, with the team sharing challenges and working out ways to overcome them.
Lockdown also saw the widespread introduction of a flexible working week, and people realising they need to spend time to look after their own wellbeing too – rather than working away at a laptop on their dining room table all day.
We saw businesses diversifying to keep afloat and that proved that those which are adaptable, flexible and open-minded will not only survive but thrive too.
There are always opportunities in any crisis, they might not be the same as earlier this year in the first lockdown, but I have no doubt innovative businesses will continue to identify gaps in the market.
But the big difference ahead of the autumn and winter is, without a doubt, planning. Businesses have had longer to prepare, have learned from March and hopefully won’t have overextended their resources in the last couple of months.
We’re encouraging proper business planning and cash flow forecasting, ask yourself the tough questions too! Many established business owners don’t ask themselves enough if they are delivering the right products and services.
The Coventry and Warwickshire LEP is coming from position of treating all businesses as though they were start-ups, and we’re on board with that. The world has changed and thinking as an entrepreneur is crucial.
At Burgis & Bullock we’re providing free advice, free forecast planning workshops, free weekly Business Mastermind Group webinars with business support, to improve your business and be more flexible in the current climate.
Visit bandb.irunwp1.co.uk or call 0345 177 5500 to find out more about how we can support your business.