I’ve had many conversations recently, as I’m sure you have, about the current bizarre business world we find ourselves in and the ‘new normal’.
As you (probably) sit at home working, many things won’t have changed. And yet the streets are deserted, governments are taking extraordinary decisions, stock markets have gone off a cliff, and customers and suppliers are distracted by things that weren’t even on their radar four weeks ago.
What Is The ‘New Normal?’
What do we make of it all? And what do we do today, tomorrow, next week, next month to survive and then thrive in this ‘new normal’.
On the macro scale, we will almost certainly see a shift in the dynamics of global trade. Countries will begin to bring back core capabilities on shore, shortening supply chains of vital goods, and loosening their reliance on nations half a world away for items vital to their prospering and independence.
Globalisation will take a battering before it emerges into its next form.
But what about the businesses that you and I run and are involved in? I would suggest that our current agenda is driven by three things:
- Survival today. Doing whatever is necessary to survive today, tomorrow and into the next 2-3 months. That means watching the cash more carefully than you have probably done for a while, cutting every piece of non-vital expenditure, chasing those slow paying customers daily, being relevant and vital to your existing customers, and so on. Short term cash and revenue becomes king.
- Growth this quarter. Working through your strategy to survive and grow in this current environment of turmoil. For some companies that will simply mean doing what they currently do, but more of it and better. For the online retailers, entertainment streaming services and providers of video comms applications; they simply need to keep doing a great job. For others, such as travel agents and holiday venues, they have a bigger challenge and will need to think very creatively indeed. But wherever you are on that spectrum the key is to be visible and relevant to your audience. The digital space will only get more crowded and noisy. Our challenge is to be super clear on our audience, our differentiators, our value and our relevance. Otherwise our messages will simply be lost in that sea of noise.
- Positioning for the upturn. What can you put in place now to be positioned for the upturn? Whether it’s in 6 months, 12 months, 18 months or more, there will be an upturn. And that upturn will occur in a different business environment, where new industries will thrive and old ones will die. Where do you want to be when it happens? How are you going to be positioned to ride the growth wave rather than be swamped by it? Like the point above, it’s about positioning, value and relevance. Having that clear differentiator and being highly visible – both online and offline – for the value that you bring to your target audience.
Life Has Changed
In this ‘new normal’ life has changed and will be continually changing for a long time to come. Even if/when COVID-19 goes away, the changes that have been forced upon us during this time will give us a legacy that will remain part of the new currency of business. This will be an increase in home working, less travel, and so on.
Cash will be tighter and discretionary spend lower, with every penny scrutinised for value-add. And if we do revert more to the old ‘pre-2020’ way, it will be slowly.
The only thing that seems to be certain is that businesses that will thrive in the next year or two are, more likely, to be those that facilitate and improve the ‘new normal’ that we will find ourselves in.