In times of crisis and facing the unknown, as a business owner the feeling can be quite overwhelming. It’s vital to keep a clear head, be agile and be prepared. In readiness for the coming months when developing contingency plans to keep trading and managing your stakeholders, you will need to assess a multitude of risks, some of which will never have before been considered. Harpers has listed some of the key points to help when formulating your plan.
1. Strategy – A plan for today
It’s all about survival right now and you need to get your businesses down to fighting trim, and quickly. In these unprecedented times you will need to focus on short term plans, to get through these initial weeks; you will then be able to plan further ahead. Today is about keeping your business afloat so concentrate on your cash, customers, supply chain and key personnel. Be clear on your escalation plans – what and when will you need to scale back? Be agile and decisive; watch your market.
2. Cash Management – Survival mode
Cash is king! you will not be able to run your business on thin air. Think about effective strategies to turn your stock into cash, focus on critical payments to keep your business alive. Watch your credit exposure and keep talking to your customers, suppliers and staff and don’t forget to review what support is available, e.g. the government business interruption loan scheme, cash grants, tax relief, ask your bank if they are able to extend/offer additional funding facilities.
3. Sales and Marketing – Protecting your revenue
It is important that you identify critical customers over the next four months. Make sure your team identify and close any deals, this will be imperative to generating the cash you need to see you through the coming months. Keep the brand light burning, be mindful of budget but don’t let your value adding marketing activity dry up as you will need to sell your way through this situation to maintain a minimum level of sales.
4. Supply Chain – The fuel of your business
Working closely with your suppliers is vital, there may be second tier suppliers that effect your primary supplier’s ability to serve. Think about alternative supply channels as you may need them over the coming weeks. Communicate with your suppliers to make sure you receive continuity of supply and acceptable commercial terms – can you extend credit? Be realistic with your forecast planning as you don’t want to tie up unnecessary cash in the wrong stock.
5. HR and People – Your most valuable asset
You need to look after your people. Keep your team informed, be inclusive and share relevant information when you are able and your team will respond positively. You will need to adopt a flexible approach to remote working and flexible hours. New technology and virtual communication will all be required in your plan. What can you do for the welfare of those staff, whom by the nature of their role, cannot work remotely? Plan ahead, but not too far.
6. Cost Reduction – Fit for the fight?
The ability to pre-empt and respond to change is what will determine the survivors. In these challenging times you will need to make tough decisions. Make sure you cut fat not muscle as you right size your organisation, but retain the ability to operate effectively. Create a contingency plan for the most challenging scenario, so you are ready to press the button. When taking action, make sure you have received the correct advice, and be decisive.
7. Remote Working – Be agile and flexible
It’s important to work together and maintain a good level of communication throughout the workforce, even with employees working from home. This can be done with the use of video conferencing software: allowing a free flow of information within the business, regardless of where your employees are working. Remind staff of data security and the security of ‘at home’ WiFi networks.
8. Communication – Keep the channels open
Clear communication is absolutely critical during uncertain times, not only within the business, but also with your suppliers, customers and stakeholders. Ensure you have a wide arc of communication, both up and down stream within your supply chain and customer channels. Consider drawing up a simple map of who needs to know what – this can save you time in due course.
9. Market – Cut through the noise
In these uncertain times ‘change is the only constant’ so keep your eyes open and ears to the ground. It is very easy to be working in the business and forget to look up and see what is happening and impacting the markets within which you operate. Be mindful of government announcements, updates and watch your market. Opportunities will emerge, some of which you never would have thought possible!
10. Governance – Make the right decisions
In times such as these, business owners will be working more closely than ever with their HR and legal departments. This is crucial, as understanding what matters such as legal implications, insurance policies etc. will help give your business clarity over the coming months.
In the current climate, we are utilising our highly talented Operational Critical Response Team that can work virtually with you, through these challenging times.