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The importance of an agile business model

As stated at the start of this three-blog series, these are unprecedented times – and we are all going to look somewhat different when we emerge from the crisis. Some businesses are clearly, and very regrettably, not going to survive – and the businesses that do stay the course are inevitably going to change forever.

Challenging times like these give each and every one of us the opportunity to rethink – whether that’s about our personal lives, our environment, our economy, our business. And, of course, I’m predominantly talking about business in this blog.

I appreciate most people never really like ‘change’. We love to quote that old adage: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But the truth is, in order to continue being truly successful, we do have to keep evolving our business, and keeping one step ahead.

During this lockdown, if you can get your mentality in the right place, you can use this opportunity of ‘stillness’ wisely and productively. In the fast-paced world of yester-month, when would you have ever had the time for this?

So how does your business survive (assuming we are not considering financial issues)? How do you ride out this situation that is totally out of your control?

 

1)  Be a good citizen. Pay it forward.

cofinitive has always been at the forefront of the pay-it-forward community. This is the very ethos of what we do. We know what we’re talking about when we say: During challenging times, if you do have some capacity, pay it forward. Be generous. First and foremost, be human beings, good citizens, whatever you like to call it. In short, help others out. Good turns will be remembered in the future.

For now, at least, we are all in this together – and there’s never been a better time for scratching one another’s backs: I can do this for you? Could you do this for me? This way we all survive.

Over the last week, I have personally done several of these two-way ‘mutual benefit’ transactions. Without so much as a bean changing hands. And we are all so much richer for it. If one conversation can help to stop someone else pulling the plug on their business, then that’s got to be a conversation worth having.

As lockdown started, I was honoured to take part in a free online event at The Bradfield Centre giving advice to local businesses struggling in the current situation – helping to explain the range of COVID-19 state aid packages available and signposting the key options for impactful support during the recovery stage. As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand that all that’s important right now is safeguarding your employees and managing cashflow. Nothing else matters.

Having just taken on a new role (soon to be announced – more on this later), I am taking even more calls than ever, to help small businesses and try to represent that voice. So take it from me – if you know you’re ‘doing the right thing’ mentally, that’s also going to boost you and help you to thrive over the coming months. Positivity, after all, breeds positivity.

 

2) Support your local supply chain

This is something I’ve talked about lots before: Use your local supply chain. Go local. From a PR and Comms perspective we always encourage clients to not be obsessed with big city agencies/conglomerates and only glorifying exposure in national media. You can still work with people locally and achieve global exposure…

And it’s precisely at times like these that we need to be supporting our local supply chain. More than ever.

If it’s feeding your family, buy from your local baker, butcher or even your local pub if they’re still managing to trade by diversifying with meat boxes and veg boxes for sale. They need you. Please support them.

And the same applies to your business community.

We are so lucky to have such a diverse group of businesses in our region. And I’m immensely proud to see manufacturers here making respirators for COVID-19 patients and even our local gin distilleries now turning their hand to producing anti-bacterial hand sanitiser for the nation, not to mention many of our schools and maker spaces turning their hands to PPE.

You’ll get more passion and ability (even flavour) if you ‘buy local’ – far more enthused and committed people working with you and on behalf of you simply because they live, work and breathe in the same area as you.

 

3) Adapt and evolve

As I said at the start, no one ever really likes change – especially when it’s forced upon you. But having the time to reflect – stillness – is something we rarely get in the normal run of life. So, if we can use the time we have now to really consider purpose, values and contribution – and, most importantly, adapt as appropriate –  there is an opportunity for you to rise out of this at the end of it all. Or at least emerge from the pupas of our isolation as true butterflies. You really can. But that’s all down to your willingness and readiness to adapt to what’s happening around us.

The human race is resourceful. Dig deep. You can do it.