We live in an uncertain world – and as every advertisement seems to say “these are challenging times.” The list of things we don’t have control over is long and a bit frightening: the pandemic, Brexit, the aftermath of the US election to name but a few.
Retailers are finding it hard to plan because of this atmosphere of uncertainty. But there is one thing we can all be sure about. We will not return to the pre-pandemic world, business as usual will not be the default. So how can we all cope with this and where do we find the motivation to carry on?
Plan A,B and C
Plan A is business as usual, which has already proved impossible with social distancing measures and levels of restrictions subject to change at short notice.
If you have had to change the way you do business to take account of the new reality of trading in a pandemic, think about how you can integrate this into your business on a more permanent basis.
This is your Plan B.
The obvious one is online trading, using a website or Instagram/Facebook. Or are you selling new products? Or have you found a new market? Have you cut costs to survive? Are you closing non profitable parts of your business? Have you arranged shopping by appointment, click and collect or personal shopping services?
Plan C is starting to look further into the future and reimagining your business post pandemic. Retail businesses may have to think differently about the kinds of experiences they offer their customers in-store. Making shopping an attractive in-person leisure activity again may require more ingenuity than in the past.
Think ahead to what you want your business to look like at the end of next year or or in five or ten years. Think big. Do you want to double your business, or move online, or expand into new markets?
Do you want to embrace the opportunities of the circular economy for a more sustainable future. A recent report from E.ON says about consumers that it “shows how COVID-19 has radically changed their purchasing habits and how concerns about the environment are becoming more important in persuading them what to buy – and who to buy it from.”
Moving to more sustainable business practices could completely transform the economy bringing new opportunities for businesses which are ready to exploit the new possibilities. At the Green Horizon Summit in London this week UN Special Envoy on Climate Action, Mark Carney said reaching net zero emissions requires a “whole economy transition” that represents “the greatest commercial opportunity of our time”.
The economic transformations could create a lot of new jobs too – something to welcome amidst the current doom and gloom. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN says that “To respond effectively to climate and environmental stresses, ….. is projected to generate over 200 million full-time jobs by 2050, particularly more decent green jobs along the entire food production system.”
Ambition is great and very important but is not an excuse to put off taking action.Think big but start small. And start now. What actions can you take today to start on your journey to achieve your ambitions? Start with a quick win, an easy action you can do at once. For example, start selling through Facebook, change to renewable energy, buy LED light bulbs. You’ve probably already taken lots of quick actions since March, maybe now is the time to see what else you can do to build on previously successful ones.
Then take a longer look at your business and put together a strategy to achieve your big ambition. The good news this week of a possible vaccine for COVID – 19 means that there is light at the end of this particular tunnel. That gives me the motivation to think more positively about the future. I hope it does the same for you. But it shouldn’t make you complacent about having a Plan C for your business. 2020 has been a year of unanticipated change, now is the time to start thinking about the changes you want to make. Falling back on the old way of doing things may no longer be enough.
If you’d like some help with your small actions or your big ambitions then please give me a call. You can book a slot here to talk to me.