For your business to thrive during the ongoing effects of COVID-19 will require a focus on the fundamentals of business success. The fundamentals may not sound interesting, but their payoff is huge. I suggest revisiting some of the fundaments to ensure you are maximizing your opportunity for success as you navigate the effects of this pandemic:
Mindset: This is critical to future success, and when times are challenging, it matters more than ever. Your mind doesn’t distinguish between constructive and destructive input. Input–> Affects beliefs–> Affects actions–>Affects results. To succeed, stand guard at the door of your mind.
Strategy: What is your current strategy? It may have changed since the pandemic started. Strategy is about finding out what the customer needs, filling that need, and then collecting a check. Your customers’ needs may be different now, and the only way to find out is to communicate with them. What you learn may require you to make some adjustment to what you have done in the past.
Clear direction: Where do you want your business to be two years from now? This may have changed since the pandemic started. Your plans may no longer be valid, but you can adapt and adjust. Start with evaluating where you are now, and then envision a path to the future. Share your vision with your staff and customers.
Create a plan: How will you bridge the gap between your current state and your desired future? Chunk your vision of the future down into manageable pieces. I suggest 90-day increments because they feel manageable and keep you on track. All successful companies have a plan of action—it’s the path to the future.
Focus: People underestimate the power of intense focus. Think of water at 60,000 psi: it can cut through two inches of steel. That is the kind of focus you need. Focusing means eliminating the distractions that prevent you from achieving all that you can achieve. Our society as a whole is addicted to distraction. It is a choice to be focused or distracted. You are in charge. Self-management is more important than time management in the 21st century. What is the 20 percent of activities that will generate 80 percent of your results? How about the 20 percent of the 20 percent?
Documented process and procedures: Review your documented processes and procedures for accuracy with the current conditions. If you do not have documented processes and procedures, then it’s time to create them. Having documented processes and procedures creates standard work, which increases efficiency.
Focus on the numbers: When I use to fly an airplane, I relied on the instruments to help me navigate and, quite frankly, to stay alive. The instruments in your business are the P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow projection. Understanding these instruments and your numbers allows you to ask better questions in order to make better decisions. It helps you keep your business alive—and thriving.
Cash flow: Cash is the lifeblood of any business, you have to understand how cash moves in and out of your business. Not having enough cash in your business is like Kryptonite to Superman—it’s fatal. The net profit on your P&L is not cash but the theory of cash since the P&L does not take into account principal payments on debt or owner draws and distribution. I recommend a rolling 13-week cash flow projection.
Focus on marketing and sales: Now is not the time to cut back on marketing. The competition is probably cutting back, but you should not. You can’t wait for things to get better and then start your marketing efforts. Be proactive and position your company for the turnaround. Marketing and selling are critical now.
Value: How can you add more value now? In what ways can you add additional value to your customers? The best way to grow a business is by growing, not competing. Can you create a new market space for your product or service? Where are there potential new opportunities for your business? It’s not just about products or services that contribute revenue today, but about those that will contribute to your future success. Think long-term. Where are there potential new markets and new demand?
COVID-19 caught us all by surprise. It’s a good lesson for staying on top of things and not letting the fundamentals slide. But even if you did let them slide, you can position yourself for the future by paying attention to them now.