What’s wrong or what’s possible
A COVID Recovery Plan for Business
2020 and its predecessor have been challenging for most small businesses (along with many larger ones) yet as winter gives way to spring, the promise of summer can be felt on the breeze and our fears about the future begin to subside.
Active cases of COVID-19 in Queensland are almost non-existent and the emergence of new cases in affected parts of our country is declining. A slice of sunshine is beginning to peek through from behind the dark cloud of COVID-19.
They tell us that this coronavirus is the new normal, it will never really disappear and we will all simply learn to live in this new normal, shrouded in ambiguity where we greet each other with cursory glances rather than hearty handshakes or generous hugs. Apparently, we may all get back to business as usual, resuming our lives personally and professionally after the great hiatus of humanity that has been the year 2020.
But what of the impact on our economy. Will business ever recover from this societal shift, where the word ‘pivot’ peppered almost every conversation? Where we used our skills and smarts to keep going and identify innovation opportunities.
Of course, there are a decent handful of small businesses throughout North Queensland who have continued to prosper despite social isolation and during the pandemic. We celebrate and salute you. Much of this survival has been due the great reprieve we were afforded via access to Jobkeeper, allowing us to save our staff (and ourselves) from the bleak prospect of hours spent in the Centrelink queue, claiming Jobseeker.
But now we must harness all the resilience these tough times have given us the opportunity to cultivate, turn our faces toward the sun and the pose that age old, weighted question to ourselves: what’s next?
Business continuity is largely dependent on our ability as entrepreneurs and business owners to pause and reflect as circumstances require it. Here is my six step plan for COVID recovery:
1. Reposition for growth
Identify new or alternative income streams. If 2020 has shown us anything in business it’s surely that just as we find our flow and get the rhythm of our businesses and results synced, something external shifts and we are required to observe the periphery and adjust accordingly. This approach may be about short term survival for many businesses but it might just as well produce diversification opportunities we would never have explored otherwise.
2. Future proof
Use these strange new times to plan for the worst while remaining positive and expecting the best. Nothing good ever came from dwelling on what if’s, but’s and maybe’s but similarly, the head in the sand strategy does nothing to help us plan for the unexpected. If the old saying that “forewarned is forearmed” rings true then let’s use this survival of the unexpected to learn, grow and consider an uncertain future as an everyday business risk we can plan for.
Reinvigorate our teams through insight and empowerment. This year has taken it out of many of the most vibrant and energised individuals I know. Have you stopped to really check in with your team? Consider how this year has impacted them personally and professionally? If national mental health statistics are anything to go by, remembering the human impact of this pandemic will be an important step to recovery since human factors contribute significantly to business outcomes. Connecting who we are to what we do is valuable at any stage of business growth. The more we develop insight and take purposeful action, the more we expand the outcomes.
4. Plan for action
Building new foundations through strategic planning and reviewing and reshaping our goals for this brave new world is more important now than ever. Many have enjoyed the change of pace, reconnecting with loved ones and reprioritising what they value day to day. The same attention should be paid to business planning. What do we want from, and what are we willing to give to, our businesses moving forward? How will we dream up, document and deliver our vision (renewed or revised) moving forward?
5. Rebranding for success
Bringing our brands to life through powerful messaging strategies. Now is the time to clarify key messages, re-identify target audiences and create cut-through messages that reach and impact those we are communicating with. Regrouping alone is not enough, it’s time to look beyond and reconnect with our customers, checking what has changed within our markets and industries and getting the heads up by repositioning our communication with them.
6. Driving our economy
Contribution is key to recovery. Together we not only achieve more but feel better. Would we really have survived these last 24 months without the support and commitment of our communities? North Queenslanders possess that great generosity of spirit for which we are renowned. We can work together to drive economic recovery for North Queensland by supporting local, driving renewed faith in our economy and getting the wheels of commerce turning again for our region.