How can you future proof your contracting or property management business in 2021?
2020 was a year like no other in our lifetime. We were thrown into a situation which none of us were prepared for – both personally and professionally. For the businesses that have survived – and if you’re reading this, we hope you’re one of them – it could be easy to wipe your brow and put it all behind you. However, there must be lessons we can learn from the 2020 experience? Instead of dusting ourselves off and returning to ‘business as usual’ (whenever that’s possible in 2021), what can you look back on and learn from? And how can you use those learnings to future proof your business?
The Spendthrift and the Swallow
Just as one swallow does not make a summer, the end of a pandemic does not make a risk-free future.
“A man who had wasted his fortune had nothing left but the clothes he wore. On seeing a swallow one Spring morning he decided the weather would be warmer, so he sold his coat. The weather however turned colder the next day and killed the swallow. When the shivering man saw the dead swallow he moaned, “Thanks to you I am freezing.”
n other words, you never know when you might need that coat again, or when it could be a lifeline that keeps your business warm through cold weather. Anything you’ve done during the pandemic to make your business better shouldn’t be ‘sold’ or stopped when the pandemic is over. Don’t be so quick to revert back to ‘BC’ – Before COVID-19. You might just regret it.
If you could go back and do 2020 again, what would you change?
Not having the pandemic isn’t an option! If there are things you’d have done differently, what were they and what can you learn from them? For example:
Was there anything you couldn’t do that could have been implemented before the pandemic?
What did you have to implement quickly during the pandemic that could have stopped you from doing business?
Could you have targeted a different customer or industry?
Could you have pivoted the business and offered a slightly different, or completely different offer or service?
Have you embraced new technology during 2020?
None of us would have imagined that in-person meetings would be so missed and replaced by Zoom, Hangouts and any other online meeting tool you’ve been pulled into.
What technology have you made use of that has transformed how you work? Perhaps your business moved from having people who worked in the office to working from home. Suddenly that server isn’t serving you and you need to store files and work on a cloud so that it can be accessed remotely.
Maybe your traditional ways of working weren’t fitting in with new pandemic guidelines and you needed to embrace new technology to combat this. Whatever the reason for switching to new technology, are there other manual processes your business is engaged in that could be done better digitally?
Could your business be more sustainable?
There’s been a lot of talk of the ‘great reset’ and coming back to a ‘better normal’ when the pandemic is over. Now that we have all been through unexpected changes, can we continue this by implementing better, more sustainable actions and choices in our business lives?
This could be as simple as reducing the amount of paperwork that is printed. Not only, saving trees or the saving energy to print, but also saving you money. ‘Think before you print’ could be implemented.
What can you do to replace paper processes with digital processes? This would allow for smoother communication and easier management of information as the risk of paper trails going awry is removed.
For more ideas visit Climate Care.
If you knew now what you knew then, what would you have differently?
Following on from what would you change, in a similar vein, if you knew now what you knew then, what you have done differently? This can be a valuable tool in trying to decide what your business is putting off that should and could be put in place now. Take a look at what improvements could be made to the business and put a plan in place to make the change. Use the benefit of hindsight to make improvements now that will benefit the business in the future. Go through the discomfort of change now and reap the rewards.
So whether it’s not being too hasty to throw away your ‘coat’, reflection on the year that was, or putting new changes in place – we can all use 2020 as a stepping stone to moving forward with more clarity and better decision making. We can use the lessons from the pandemic to embrace change and prepare better for what the future might bring. And make January 2021 the start of a new year where we will grow stronger.
Brian Welsh is MD of Blockworx (which is owned by CPL Software).