Business 101: Survival tips for business in 2021
By Ben Bierman
If your business made it through 2020, you have survived one of the biggest collective economic crises of our generation.
But, as the national lockdown level 3 is extended, it is important to reflect on why some proved more resilient than others, even within the same industry and region. In this sense, the past year has provided invaluable insight for businesses.
Here are survival tips for 2021.
In the fog of the crisis, reliable information has proven vital to business survival. Businesses who cultivated solid sources of information such as news organisations, business associations and carefully-selected individuals within their networks, were able to withstand the considerable misinformation polluting social media. This, in turn, enabled calm and accurate planning. In contrast, many who lacked good information were prone to panic decisions and paralysis. Businesses with access to reliable sources of information will also remain well-positioned to identify new business opportunities arising from the pandemic.
Businesses that found themselves deeper into their comfort zones had the most trouble finding their feet. This does not mean that they must live in constant fear of calamity, but rather that a minimum level of awareness and readiness for unexpected setbacks is healthy.
The speed at which a businesses could adapt – whether it was to working from home, new forms of client interaction, introducing different products or services, or even alternative marketing avenues - was key to its survival. Agility is a function of mindset, business culture, planning and information sourcing, is equally as important for spotting new opportunities, as it is for weathering crises.
Businesses with strong leadership have coped much better than those adrift on the stormy sea. Leadership includes having a clear and agile strategy, good communication and execution of the strategy throughout the whole organisation, decisive decision-making and the building of a strong team around the strategy. An important part of crisis leadership is setting a tone of calm in order to avoid panic and despair.
Investment in information technology proved very versatile during Covid-19, adapting easily to work-from-home practices and remote communication with clients, avoiding a potential scramble to set up modern systems and, in turn, train staff to use them.
Keep your financial information to tax compliance and staff employment contracts in order and up to date to allow your business to apply for support and finance without delays, as both private and government financiers require this information before offering any support.
If ever there was a time to dip into a rainy-day fund, it is now. The importance of contingency planning is closely linked to the lesson around being ready for unexpected setbacks. This goes beyond just having an emergency fund and includes an emergency line of credit and a good relationship with potential investors.
Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited