Chairman’s Chat October 2021

Start Preparing to Reopen Your Business

As our business community begins the process of re-opening, there are several key things to consider:

  1. Your ability to deliver.
  2. Cashflow and the new costs of doing business.
  3. Product and service profitability.
  4. Marketing strategies.
  5. Compliance and risk.
  6. People management.
  7. Mental health.

With very little cash and resources to burn, working smarter is going to be essential.

  1. Your ability to deliver

Things have changed over the past 12 months – the cost of freight, available materials, supply chain delays and disruptions and lack of skilled staff may be new challenges. It’s time to re-evaluate your supply chain, rationalise your products/services and adjust your customer service and sales processes so you feel comfortable that you can deliver. Proactive communication processes may be needed over the next three to six months to help customers understand the conditions and adjust their expectations.

  1. Cashflow and new costs of doing business

Many businesses don’t have much cash left in the reserves to enable business-as-usual trading post “Freedom Day”, let alone spend more on increased compliance costs.

It’s time to sit down with your accountants and bookkeepers to discuss cashflow post opening. Every business owner should be starting to do forecasts on what cash will be needed, using assumptions about increased operating costs and decreased income, factoring in the purchase or lease of new items or systems to manage restrictions.

  1. Product and service profitability

This is a great time to review your product and service offerings to evaluate demand, pricing models, and profitability. Strip away those offerings that aren’t going to get you the results you need to build a profitable business in the year ahead.

  1. Marketing strategies

At our recent Business After 5 Event, we heard about the things you need to consider when creating a marketing strategy that gets results and doesn’t waste your time and money. You can get those tips on our blog here.

  1. Compliance and risk

It’s difficult to know what COVID-related compliance measures will be required in the year ahead. There are some things we can make assumptions about though. COVID won’t disappear after businesses and borders open. People will get sick, and you will need to do the best you can to provide a safe and fair workplace. And even when staff get sick, somehow your business will need to keep operating.

It’s important to do a risk review and research what rules and laws apply to your business operations and sector. Review what your insurances will and won’t cover. Consider back-up plans in case your business is disrupted.

As new details are released by government and other authorities, you’ll be able to quickly assess these in the context of their application in your business, and your risk management and operating plans.

  1. People management

Hand in hand with compliance and risk management, your resource and people management plan needs to be flexible and practical. There are a lot of unknowns in this space. Getting assistance from HR consultants or employment lawyers on interpreting guidelines will help save you headaches and enable you to communicate with your teams proactively and accurately. People don’t function well in uncertainty – the more clarity you can give them, the better the team performs.

  1. Mental health

We don’t know what the full mental health impact of COVID will be, although some evidence is now emerging. Recent studies in the UK indicate that the pandemic (and measures taken by governments to control it) will have a significant impact upon the mental health of employees and rates of absenteeism. It’s very possible that these mental health implications will be felt for many months or even years by staff. As a business owner or leader, you’re probably exhausted mentally too. It’s wise to plan for proactively managing both your and your team’s mental health needs within your operations.

You can learn more about Flourishing in Times of Change at our Business After 5 event online on October 27. Find out more or register here.

As you build your re-opening strategy, connect with your business networks, compare ideas and seek professional guidance to make sure you’re ready to embrace the year ahead.

As your local business chamber, we’re here to help as well!

About the author:

Kerrie Sheaves, Chairman, Sydney Hills Business Chamber.

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