After months of lockdowns and the closure of businesses across Australia, we are finally starting to see movement to reopen. This is great news for business owners and Aussies alike, as we can add some semblance of normality. However, business owners did take quite a hit when things shut down; and as restrictions ease, businesses will slowly need to make the shift from just surviving to thriving in the new order of day to day living. Some businesses have already started shifting by having staff work from home, but restaurants, airlines, cafés, bars, tourists attractions and many other places have only just been allowed to regain the operations of their business in a more meaningful way. So, as we navigate these unprecedented times, what steps can businesses take to ensure they are on the right trajectory to deal with the slow ease of restrictions?
Assess the Damage to Your Business for Cost Optimisation
It might be painful, but the first step to recovery is to take stock of how much loss your business has faced in the months where there was no or limited operation. This goes beyond just comparing the financial data. Look at your existing inventory for brick and mortar stores, consider the loss of employees and whether you have enough staff to reopen. If you have fewer staff, consider what skills they might have so duties can be overlapped. If necessary, and your staff have the relevant work experience, start thinking of RPL to ensure the staff you do still have are equipped with the right certification. From there, you can start moving towards cost optimisation. Previously, your cost optimisation might have been a bit shorter term focused. Now is the time for you to look at all the damages, consider how you need to rebuild and work towards a cost optimisation strategy that will put you in a position that allows for the continued success of your business into the future. Start by gathering current cost base and start performing a spend analysis. This will give you useful information and a set of metrics to help measure and track success.
Embrace Technology & Move Towards Becoming a Digital First Workplace
This crisis really showed us how disruption can really hit the business hard, but it also pointed out all the gaps and lack of investment in digital operations and technology for business across every industry. Now more than ever, businesses need to look at incorporating digital and technological strategies for their day to day operations and overall business operation. Think of what digital technologies can bring lasting business value, improve the customer experience and increase employee satisfaction. Cloud software is one of the best features for both SMEs as well as large corporations. It is a secure platform that can be accessed anywhere, anytime and is a great way to store data, important documents and other necessary information in one convenient location. Look at what tasks can be automated and what tasks don’t need to be done physically: make a list of what areas of your business require an online transition. It could be something like investing in remote working software. Or knowing what upskill courses are available online, for example the Diploma of Project Management can be fully done online but something like certificate iv in commercial cookery has practical elements that need to be done in real life. The digital workspace has many levels, but it’s important to take that first step towards a proper strategy to ensure the resilience of your business into the future.
Business Models and Putting Your Plan Into Action
The previous two steps ask you to take a look at the shortfalls of your business, especially in relation to the COVID-19 crisis. From there, you can use the analysis and create a more appropriate business model that look to incorporate pre-emptive measures and long-term strategy.
Create a plan that prioritises your most important actions as you work your way towards the more complex matters. And remember, you can’t do everything all at once. So, it’s ok to take a step back and focus on one thing at a time.
Before you know it, your business will be thriving again. Maybe not the way it was before, but in a way that helps sustain it for the long haul.