With every crisis, there is an opportunity to come back stronger. Any business owner effected by the lockdowns and social distancing restrictions of COVID-19, will likely tell you that the pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges they have ever faced in their business…
However, despite the disruptions, there have been countless stories of UK business owners and entrepreneurs showing remarkable resilience in response to the global pandemic. With a second wave on the horizon, it is important that we share these lessons that we’ve learned during this time, so we can all come back stronger.
Here is our list of the top five lessons business owners have learned during COVID-19:
- You must continually learn to evolve and adapt to survive
Chances are that your business looks very different today than it did this time last year – and much more different than what you thought it would look like now. Whilst the last few months have certainly not been easy; the pandemic has been the time for newfound resilience and adaptability for many business owners who faced a sink or swim scenario. Those who were brave enough to embrace technology and expand their product or service were quick to survive. By having multiple revenue streams, if something out of your control happens, having all your eggs in different baskets means that there will at least still be some revenue coming in, even if one area is impacted.
- Remote/flexible working works!
Across the world, the pandemic has forced offices to close entirely or learn to operate with a short amount of staff. Before lockdown business owners feared employees working from home would lead to laziness and a drop in work performance. However, that could not be further from the truth. In fact, ditching the daily commute and working from home brings many benefits to employees, such as an increase in job satisfaction, employee morale, motivation and a better work/life balance. While from a business owners’ point of view the potential savings businesses can make in terms of overhead costs are huge, with some businesses having decided to close their offices permanently. Business owners have learned that trust is everything, but the location is irrelevant. It is the employees’ output, contribution and attitude that counts and it’s obvious when they are present.
- Embrace Technology
Technology has not only changed our businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic but in many cases, it’s saved them! Business owners who had previously put off learning about certain social messaging apps and video conference tools, had no choice but to hop on board or risk their businesses falling behind the competition. Lockdown ceased face to face sales and office meeting, which meant video conferencing tools such as zoom and skype have been vital for new business opportunities, sales, maintaining work relationships and motivating the workforce. Love it or loathe it, technology will only continue to become more vital and integrated into every business moving forward.
- Communication is vital
Communication has always been a vital component of any successful business. However, during lockdown, a lack of face to face meetings and a general feeling of uncertainty, left many business owners wary and customers needing reassurance more than ever before. However, despite the restrictions and lockdown, many business owners have seen this as an opportunity to support one another and strengthen their relationships with employees, clients and suppliers since we are united against a common enemy and we are determined not to let it win. Business owners (especially those whose business involves an in-person service) have learned the importance of being transparent and accessible to their customers via other methods of communication including phone calls, video chats, emails and social media.
- Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Like any pandemic, COVID-19 was impossible to predict and came with a whole set of new challenges. However, many business owners effected by the pandemic have had their eyes opened to their businesses’ weaknesses and have started to set up robust systems in place to avoid further disruptions to their businesses’ future. One of these systems is putting a business continuity plan in place, so service can go on undisrupted and recovery can be made quickly in the next phase. Also investing in cloud-based technology and ensuring employees are equipped with the tools they need to work safely and comfortably will ensure your customer journey can continue with as little impact as possible and with the same quality of service, no matter where your team is working from.
Although the current COVID-19 pandemic is without doubt one of the greatest challenges likely to be experience by this generation, one thing is certain. It has completely transformed how businesses work and will continue operate in the future. The truth is, is that success in business isn’t measured by how you run the company when everything is going well, but how you rise to the challenge and battle for survival when under threat. This is where the biggest lessons lie and where we as business leaders will find the biggest opportunity for growth and improvement.