The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the South African business landscape in a number of ways, with the pressures of lockdown having turned daily operations for many companies on their head. When it came to staff, businesses that could, had to adapt to remote working, while those that couldn’t, had to implement a host of rigorous COVID-related occupational health and safety measures.
As the pandemic led to a more urgent adoption of advanced technology, companies have also had to review their processes and adjust accordingly. This review might include revisiting their business model and evolving it in line with client needs or diversifying the business offering. Adding to this pressure, reputational risk has been on the up as well, forcing businesses to review how they handle aspects like customer feedback and complaints.
Below are some practical steps that local businesses can take to ensure they emerge out of lockdown successfully and adapt smoothly to a post-COVID world:
1. Have a game plan
As Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail”, and this couldn’t be truer for businesses right now. As such, the first step to getting your business back on track is taking the time out to complete a full strategic business plan, which requires you to answer three crucial questions: where am I now; where do I want to be; and how do I get there?
2. Assess your current reality
Considering the past six months and all that has happened, now is the time to conduct a full, thorough assessment of your business in order to gain a better understanding of how the business is doing. Factors to consider include your target market; suppliers; existing competition; internal capacity and the external environment – including political, environmental, social, technological, and legal influences.
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Luckily, there are a number of existing business frameworks and models to make use of when undertaking this assessment. You’ll just need to select the one that is most relevant for your business. For example, for newer businesses it is recommended to develop a Business Model Canvas – a simplistic model that helps answer questions relating to your Value Proposition (the value a company promises to deliver to customers). While for more established businesses, the primary model that can be easily adopted is The Ansoff Matrix, which looks at market penetration, product development and more.
4. Look forward
By using the above tactics, you will be able to identify key focus areas for the business going forward – and you’ll need to take into consideration planning for the short-term and long-term period. In addition to this, the business vision, mission and goals will need to be revisited and possibly updated to take into account the new reality of the business and its desired destination.