Business after Covid 19
As we reach the point where we have been living with or locked down by Covid 19 for a year it is difficult to remember what impact the pandemic has had on all of us. We have become conditioned to living in lockdown. What started as a novelty, the no commute working lifestyle of Zoom and Teams, became a slight inconvenience, then a limiting way fo life.
I've been working with people across multiple business sectors, from public sector senior leaders to PLC and SME leaders, supporting them through the unforeseeable pandemic challenges. As governments clumsy responded to the emerging pandemic so business tried to keep everything running as normal as possible. Business leaders like stability, normality and predictability, it lets leaders work within the known parameters of a market and deliver results accordingly.
The debate and planning for Brexit had taken years of analysis and scenario planning across every business sector, while many businesses had no time to plan their response to the Covid pandemic.
Covid 19 Impact
UK business was suddenly trying to deal with the complete unknown, and even worse than that, ever changing business scenarios. From complete shutdown and furlough staff, to the yoyo open, shut, partly open and shut again, through to the carry-on your essential workers, to adapt and onto expand as you are now the future. Many sectors such as travel companies have shut down (hibernation) to those who have seen exponential growth such as those involved in every aspect of home delivery, home improvement and remote working.
There's No Going Back To Normal
The impact of Covid has been to jump the economy 5 years forward from its natural evolution for nearly every sector, and for some that could well be ten years forward. That's not an evolutionary move forward but huge step forward throughout society and one that it will not step back from.
Will the high street simply return once the lockdown ends, unlikely as much of it has been mothballed, some of it permanently, but the impact fo a year of lockdowns has changed how society and business has changed. So this is not a short-term hiatus between the norms, which normal can bounce back from, this is a complete paradigm shift across the entire business world. Let me explain why.
In any market the macro factors which drive the market are defined within the PESTLE assessment of macro drivers. PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technology, Legal and Environmental impacts) a good as any model to summarise this, defines changes and their impact upon a market. A pandemic does not just impact on one factor for a short period time. A fuel shortage does make people sell their cars, but not needing commuting cars, city centre offices, business HQ's or regional offices through to high street shops, mean that the business world has changed forever.
What governments' have done to insulate this change through bounce-back loans, furlough payments, tax breaks and deferred loans, will soften the impact, but will not be able stop the change for the normal to return, but soften the rate of change for a new normal to emerge with the least impact that any society can afford. The impact fo Covid is not just on one element of a the PESTLE analysis, but on every aspect of the macro environment within which any business operates. Learn more at: PESTLE
People's behaviours have irreconcilable changed. Let me start with just one simple example/ Work form home will become the normal, it was on a growth curve, now it will be the expected normal for a workplace. Why commute to an office, if people do not need to?
If people are not going to work then the commuter travel, parking, petrol stations, work fast food outlets, shops and support services are all redundant. While some can pivot, the fast food outlet can joint the Just East home delivery network, others such as the large format high street shops designed for high footfall cannot. The later high street features were slowly dying as pure shopping moved online through Amazon home delivery, this shift will mean that the high street will need to look very different.
Where's the growth
For business owners in every market sector even those which have successfully pivoted so far, this shift is only the start of this unknown and unchartered new world. Change in business is usually seen at the edges, with a paradigm shift, the whole world shifts, except for the laggards (who just complain louder).
Looking for growth is therefore a real challenge. Leaders cannot just look to their innovator or early adopter customers, but need to recognise that everything has shifted, new players, substitute products and services and whole markets have sifted overnight.
The first thing for leader's to recognise is that the people have not gone away, they still exist, and so do their needs and expectations. They have been moving house, upgrading their homes and becoming more self-sufficient at unprecedented rates. Customers still have needs and wants, it will simply not be the business suit. Growth will come as the vaccine rollout takes effect, but will companies be ready for tomorrow's growth opportunities.
Now is an excellent time to review your business model. We know that markets will open up, but what they open up looking like is not yet certain. For some markets such as tourism (in hibernation during the pandemic) knows that people want to go on holiday and that delayed and latent demand will enable an immediate short-term bounce-back of this sector as people will still want to travel (and probably more than ever before).
The longer term effect of change for travel will have several major long-term impacts. Business travel will certainly change, why travel around the world when you can click a button and connect to them through Teams? Couple the introduction fo 5G and the move to SaaS delivery of many services and suddenly established travel models will need to be redefined. Couple all of those factors with people's rapidly growing awareness about the environmental damage which long-haul flights have on their carbon footprint and suddenly safe assumed business models, may not be any more.
This is true for many markets, every market has become uncertain. But do remember that uncertainty is always an opportunity for the entrepreneur. It's the entrepreneur leadership mindset, between fixed and growth, do you see the opportunity or see change as a threat?
Like to review your business strategy, find growth and develop a growth mindset and look for growth and plan where you re going and where, then why not look at our Strategic Planning Workshop to support you redefine your market.
Learn more see our other blog posts or see my website for support leaders grow and develop their business at www.richardgourlay.com