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Doing Business in the New World

· 5 min read

Many parts of the world are currently in various states of lock-down or restriction of movement. Even businesses that remain viable will struggle to find ways to grow. However, out of every difficult time, new opportunities arise, and innovative businesses will use this time to better their business.

Like many company leaders around the world, due to government lock-downs, I’ve been forced into a change of scenery and pace over the past few weeks. Although I go a little stir-crazy at being locked up, it’s a good time to reflect on the future of how we do business.

It’s also a good time to share thoughts and ideas. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some ideas and experiences from my background in business. We’re all in this together, I hope my ideas are useful to you in some way.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

- Henry Ford

You’ve been forced to spend time ‘outside’ your business. Use it wisely.

Business coaches and consultants have long championed the mantra “work ON your business, not IN your business”. This is simply the conscious action of taking time away from the daily activities and looking at the business holistically (as a whole, made up of its interconnected parts). If you’re working from home, now is a great time to work ON the business without the distractions of the office.

If you’re working from home, now is a great time to work ON the business without the distractions of the office.

When it comes to business planning, I don’t like big documents and executive summaries. My business plans are simple, fluid and visible. Here are a few steps I find useful.

Evaluate. Write down obstacles to growth, opportunities, challenges and ideas. All bets are off here, so write down any idea that comes to mind. Post-it notes are great for this sort of thing. Color-code them. Green ones for opportunities, red ones for obstacles, orange ones for ideas. Don’t use your computer or a phone app for this – the ideas need to be visible. Put them on a wall.

Prioritize. Put your ideas into order – in difficult times, you might put the cost-saving measures first, but don’t become fixated on these, as you might overlook opportunities. This is where the post-it notes come in handy – you can move them up and down the wall to prioritize.

Plan. Turn the best ideas into an action plan, including specific actions to undertake each month. More post-it notes. Each action should be concise and be connected to a direct action. “Grow revenue by 10%” is not an action. “Contact 100 previous prospects with free discount voucher” is an action.

Communicate. Let the team know about your plan, get their buy-in and delegate responsibility. Don’t decide who is going to lead the project until after your team meeting. You may find someone in the team who is excited about championing your ideas.

Act. Each action should fit on a post-it note. Yes, more post-it notes! If it won’t fit, it’s too complicated. It’s very important you can articulate these actions in one very brief statement. Once you have this, get started.

Measure. If you didn’t measure it, you don’t know if you succeeded. Each action point should be accompanied with a simple measurement of success. Your champion should know this measurement at the start and agree to the parameters.

Reward and Celebrate. Figure out how you will celebrate as a team when you meet your targets. I’ll leave the details up to you. To wrap up, I read an interesting quote this week:

“If you don’t come out of lock-down with a new skill, a side-hustle or a new plan for the future, then you lack discipline, not time”.

It made me stop and think. Our go-to excuse for not making better plans is ‘lack of time’. Like many people, I don’t have that excuse right now. No excuses for not pausing, reflecting and planning!

Next time, I’m going to talk about how you can access great talent in challenging times.

Kia mau, kia ū, otirā, kia haumaru (Hold fast, stay strong, furthermore be safe). Peter Thomas, Director, Comet Backup

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