By David Prattent

If there is one word which sums up the beginning of the 21st Century, it is “uncertainty”.  As businesses try to find a way through the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole notion of planning for the future seems irrelevant when compared to the need to survive today.

Surviving today is critical, there is no denying that.  But it is equally important we keep an eye to the future.  Why?  Well, firstly because there will be one and secondly, if you are committed to making a success of your enterprise, you need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities which will present themselves as we emerge from this crisis.

It is so easy to object to this approach because there are plenty of unknowns and that makes it too hard.  Yes it is hard, but not impossible.  There are some key things you can do:

A useful way to think about this is to break it down into the various external issues which are affecting you.  The tool often used is called PESTEL analysis.  PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal.  Not all these may relate to your circumstances so don’t over think it.  But it is important that you have an awareness of your surroundings, and the trends developing.

What does your market need?  Who exactly is your market?  What is its profile (e.g. demographics, geographical distribution)?

You don’t have to look like your competition but it helps to know what is going on.  The worst position you can find yourself in is that you are constantly running behind events and your business responses are reactive.  The idea is that you are in the lead pack and driving the trends rather than following them.

Be creative here, think positively.  Sometimes there is a basic idea which doesn’t immediately appear to work

The interaction between you and your market is a critical factor.  Obviously you want to be the first stop for any customer.  You might never fully achieve that, but how are you going to position yourself to maximise that opportunity?  We live in an online world, and the current pandemic crisis has probably given a permanent boost to the use of the internet both to communicate and to do business.

The easiest thing in the world is to think of a reason not to do something.  The word is “but”. But my business is complicated.  But there are too many factors.  But it’s too risky.  But customers won’t buy it.  But, but but.  The “but” word opens the door to failure.  If you don’t do it, there is always someone else willing to have a go.

Business strategy does not have to be complicated, or fancy.  You don’t need to develop visions and missions and all that fluffy stuff.  Consultants head for this area like homing pigeons.

Realistically, you need to have a pretty clear idea of your roadmap, where it will take you, what you want to look like to your market, and what you want that market to think about your business.

And finally, ask yourself this; I am surviving today, but can I survive in the future if I do not change?

[gravityform id=”1″ title=”true” description=”true”]