Business lessons learned during COVID-19

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Image from The Spirit Business

If you’re like many business owners you’re probably astounded by how the world changed in a very short time, and now it seems to have changed all over again!

While we can all hope that the pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, the truth is there is a lot in life and in business that is uncertain, and there is a great deal we can learn from the response to COVID-19 to help plan for the future.

Yes, your business might have changed drastically in recent months. There is good news in that, too. It means your business is adaptable and that you can find ways to survive.

Here are some lessons learned from resilient businesses and business owners during COVID-19.

1. Accurate and timely financial information is the basis for good decision making.

When decisions need to be quick and decisive you need numbers at your fingertips ready to facilitate a discussion with your accountant. Cloud accounting such as Xero kept up to date with accurate bookkeeping was a blessing.

2. Resilient businesses are adaptable

There are ways to adapt many businesses to ensure they can continue operating during a crisis. The question is whether you’re willing to make the adaptation or are fighting to keep your business exactly the same as it was before.

You might miss the old ways of running your business. Missing the old way of doing things, however, doesn’t mean you have to hold firm to them. Operating a store online, allowing a restaurant to focus on take-away, offering classes online, adapting your goods or services, and letting employees work remotely are all changes that can ensure your business stays open after COVID-19 is over, and even save you money in the long run.

3. Resilient business owners plan ahead

While a pandemic was a surprise, the possibility of a recession or business interruption is always present. Many small business owners limit their planning and cash reserves to a crisis that lasts only a few weeks, which is where they get into financial trouble.

Disaster can strike at any time, and it doesn’t have to be a global pandemic. Having a healthy cash flow, a savings account with enough built up to cover costs for at least a few months, and a plan for addressing business interruption scenarios will help your business survive tough times, whatever brings them about.

You don’t want to be reactive to an emergency situation, because that’s when terrible decisions get made. Plan ahead so you’re prepared to make tough decisions based on fact rather than emotion.

4. Pay attention to others and engage in online communities

Business owners can learn from and help each other. Review what others in your industry are doing or look outside your industry for inspiration. Seeing someone move their services online might give you an idea for how you can provide yours remotely. Noticing how businesses similar to yours adapt can influence you to make beneficial changes to your business.

Reach out and talk to other business owners, and to your customers, to find out how you can help them. At times like these, you aren’t alone in trying to keep your business operational. Everyone is looking for solutions and there’s a good chance you can help each other. We are part of some great online communities that support us to do better, where is that community for you?

5. Foundations make a difference.

Systems and processes, business structures, contingency plans and a strong balance sheet are an investment in resiliency.

Final thoughts

Never let a crisis go to waste.

Your business, staff and clients are mobilised and ready for change. Make use of that momentum to implement a new system, a new product, a new way of doing things, a change to customer payment terms – you will never have a better opportunity to implement tough changes that have scared you but you really want to do.  Go for it!

Global pandemics can devastate a small business and have lasting impacts on an industry. There are many lessons small business owners can take away from COVID-19 to help them survive, or even thrive in, the next economic emergency. Being adaptable, planning ahead and paying attention to others can all help your business through any economic disaster.

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