Just about every business owner’s strategic plans for 2020 look far different now than they did heading into the year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the economy in profound ways, forcing many companies to recalibrate suddenly and severely.
As your business moves forward in this uncertain environment, it’s important to re-evaluate competitiveness. You may have lost an edge that previously existed, or you may have the opportunity to gain one. Here are some critical elements to consider.
Objectively assess leadership
More than likely, you and your management team have had to make some difficult decisions over the last few months. Even if you feel confident that you’ve done most everything right, objectively examine and discuss your successes, failures, strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, maybe you’ve had some contentious interactions with employees while adjusting to remote work environments or increased safety protocols. Ask your managers whether underlying tensions exist and, if so, how you might improve morale.
Reassess external relationships
Most businesses rely on relationships to function competitively. These include connections with customers, suppliers, lenders, advisors and the local community. In addition, if your company is subject to regulatory oversight, it must cooperate with local, state and federal officials.
Review and discuss the state of each of these relationships. Are you getting positive customer feedback on your response to the crisis? Have you been paying suppliers on time? If not, are you openly communicating about potential solutions?
Examine supply chain and technology
Competitiveness can hinge on a company’s ability to access the supplies it needs to operate profitably, and the crisis has had a major impact on supply chains. Are you in danger of being cut off or limited from any mission-critical supplies or materials?
Also, look into whether you have access to optimal and scalable technology that allows you to produce and deliver competitive products or services. This has become a major issue in many industries as companies pivot to operate more virtually and do less business in-person.
Look to the future
Finally, identify how COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout is affecting your industry. Many sectors have obviously struggled, but others are booming in response to pandemic-driven needs for certain supplies and services.
Study how this year’s changes are affecting industry outlook and projected customer demand. You may need to operate more cautiously to deal with lower revenue for another year or more. Then again, now could be the time to claim greater market share if competitors have been struggling more than you.
Rise to the challenges
The pandemic has complicated strategic planning for every business owner. You must now anticipate not only the usual challenges to your competitiveness, but also the difficulties of operating safely in a pandemic and recovering economy.