Conversations with BlackBook – Fortune Favours The Bold

“Audaces Fortuna Juvat or Fortune favours the bold”

If you or your business is looking for that silver lining from this pandemic that has taken so much from so many, it could be that this period has given you a tangible gift, that’s hard to come by, or even create – The Gift of Time.

The future as it stands is riddled with uncertainty, so taking time to reflect, absorb, write and to engage and communicate with others is more important than ever.

The modern world is seeing one of the biggest human tragedies of all time with the Covid-19 pandemic. It has impacted the global economy so much that all businesses feel the need to re-evaluate their practises from a profitability and a sustainability perspective.

In the midst of uncertainty, not letting forecasts become fear-casts requires knowledge and courage. Businesses should strive in these times, however difficult, to navigate the uncertainty rather than being paralysed by the “very real” threats formed by an uncertain future. Every step a brand takes for adapting their businesses will not only serve themselves, but also society, thus ensuring blocks of stability are in place. Only time will be able to vindicate the choices we make, but we will have to make some choices, nonetheless.

  • Was your business prepared?
  • Are you prepared now?
  • Will your business be prepared for the future?

In these extraordinary times, making business critical decisions is inevitable. Companies individually  and collectively (self, team and customer) need to think at a multiple level (financial, social, wellbeing, process, operations etc.) if they are planning for a viable path out of the effects of the outbreak.

A Five Step Plan for thinking ahead:
  1. Define the challenges that immediately come to the surface and how they relate to the business, its income, cashflow and workforce and find quick solutions for the short run.
  2. Addressing the medium-term potential issues that may bring broader resiliency issues to the business.
  3. Once a business has clarity, planning on how to scale (up or down) or on how to evolve the offering for future success and business survival.
  4. Reinvention of a new normal, accepting that no business will restart from where it stopped, the implications of this shift and the new norm should be communicated clearly to all stakeholders (internal & external) and to foster buy-in.
  5. Being prepared at all times, whatever the future may hold, future-proofing should a new outbreak occur, ensuring strong planning, process and systems are embedded to safeguard the company for continued success and profitability.

Some pointers that would stimulate thinking:

For the points above, businesses would consider the short, medium, and long-term solutions that would effectively help the businesses survive. Major steps to be taken will be from the following: Banks/Financial institutions, businesses considering diversification in their offer, government & industry support, cost savings & negotiating etc.  After an initial adaptation to the pandemic, some other key points that businesses could consider would be; changes in workforce (how they work and where they work), making the offer appealing to the customer at least for the short to medium term, also to adapt and adopt newness.

Thinking ahead, Being proactive for the future

Across the retail & hospitality industry, the stringent health and safety regulations put in place after the outbreak started impacting the way that brands operate in the main and many high street retailers have had to shut the doors.   

Some brands with a strong online presence have been hit less hard and seen an increase in trading online. Some food outlets evolved; Pret a Manger, Shake Shack, Costa, Paul to name a few – tweaked their offering to comply with the rules offering essential items (eggs, flour, toilet paper), this enabled them to keep their doors open or even reopen.

The pre-existing investments into digital platforms by some players translated into robustness or more options during the pandemic. Joe & The Juice for example was able to choose to stay open during the pandemic by utilising their mobile app offering for click and collect. It’s doubtful that anyone thought of a pandemic scenario when creating these digital platforms, but innovation can pay back in unpredictable ways.

One of the big winners in business resilience some would say are the larger grocery store chains and by default the business partners that they work with for having successfully delivered a truly essential service to the British people that will be remembered for years to come. We only see the product on the shelf – how did it get there? These brands are serviced by an essential network of business partnerships from the raw material producers, supply chain providers, packaging, logistics and delivery companies. These businesses have had to adapt and are adopting new ways of engagement to serve the needs of the Big Grocers, staying alert and ultimately raising their game to stay competitive and be more cost effective than ever across new sizing, volume, increased workforce and enhancing the way they work and also how they service the consumer – there will be queues and 2 metre distancing for a while to come we can be sure of that.

In a world where it is possible that we will have a second wave or a new pandemic at some time in the future, businesses just like life will need to work differently and re-think what is essential. Working from home, delivery as opposed to a shop front, click and collect etc. Automation for a long while has been driven by costs, now it will be driven by health benefits. A major growth will be in automatic scanning equipment to reduce human interaction and reduce queues and time spent at location.

Observations and Thoughts

Are you brave enough to risk now and invest for the future? Can you square up to the current adversities and take the high road? Things are harder than ever right now, but let’s not forget – the big success stories belong to the ones that took the bold decisions for survival.

Planning ahead during this pandemic requires dedicated effort, yet it is essential. It is extremely important that businesses have multiple scenario solutions, they are documented and clearly articulated. The reality of many businesses is that their forecasted budgets are not there, which would force them to be much more agile in resource allocation and planning. No matter what the level of disruption from the pandemic would be, all businesses should develop a contingency plan to know ahead, covering all possible risks which would ease the uncertainty of the workforce.

Many of the businesses BlackBook are engaging with have been brave making bold changes. No matter how much the pandemic has impacted their day-to-day business, they have faced the fear and are taking sound decisions to hopefully enable them to come out the other side with minimal damage and increased resilience. There will be businesses that will disappear, this is inevitable, although regrettable. The survivors will be the brands that adapted and evolved ahead, through and with an eye on the future. It may not be possible to accurately forecast the future now, but history has shown us that fortune favours the bold.

written by The BlackBook Team