For most small to mid-size businesses that made it through the first phase of the new normal pandemic world, the question now is, “how do I plan for next year and beyond?”
A recent New York Times article discussed the “fail fast” aspect of reinvention which is something I think is critical to consider as we look to the future.
The challenge is that unlike past planning, organizations will have to game out multiple scenarios with a number of unknowns. To name just a few of the uncertainties:
- We don’t know exactly when a vaccine will be widely available.
- What the future of “work from home” looks like?
- What the desirability of a product or service will be? And to whom it will be relevant? Or if it will even be needed?
So, the need for reinvention with the ability to quickly fail and regroup for plan A, B, C, and D is fundamental to how businesses must be prepared to move forward.
A good place to start is with a SWOT analysis – evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. How can you plan for battle if you don’t know the playing field? A lot of organizations will focus on the threats and try to mitigate them. The challenge is if that becomes your only focus, the organization becomes incredibly myopic and will eventually shrink or die. The better approach is to keep an eye on threats, but also leverage the opportunities, as there will be plenty of them. Whenever we have a massive market disruption, for example, the pandemic, there are a multitude of opportunities to make things differently, make them better, and innovate.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. A couple I know, (both in tech), were living in a tiny $5000/mo apartment in San Francisco. Their organizations are both going virtual well into the future, so they pulled up stakes and moved to the country closer to family and to have more space. The choices they made are part of a growing trend in the workforce. If you’re in commercial real estate, this can be a problem or an opportunity depending on how you decide to approach it. Different sides of the same coin, you just have to decide which one will create sustainable growth for the future and what demands your “new” customers will have.
I recommend going back to start-up mode where everything is possible, and you didn’t have the knowledge of all the scars you have now. Think of all the options, the hope, and the excitement. Now pair that with the scars of hard-won knowledge and wisdom and what can you create? It’s going to be better because you’ll make it better.
Time to play offense. Defense got us through, offense will get us to what’s next. It’s time to evaluate the playing field, make your plans and contingency plans, and then GO!