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7 Business Lessons From COVID


Stephen Brown


Within the last few weeks I have spoken to a lot of CEO’s, Managing Directors, Business Owners and Senior Leaders in corporate UK, what I found interesting and I must admit even echo myself has been the number of these leaders who have said:

“I never want to go through that again, but I’m pleased we did”

Hopefully, like you, they have looked for the silver lining to the covid-cloud and no doubt the reason they hold they position they do is due to this outlook.

When our conversations have gone deeper I have heard these 7 things as the most common lessons from the Covid-19 crisis:

Lesson 1 - “We were too reliant on one market or customer”: There has probably never been harder kick up the backside to make businesses diversify into new markets. Those businesses which have survived and recovered the best have had a wider spread of markets and customers. We are currently busy helping those that were heavily focussed on one area to recruit new sales and marketing professionals to diversify their business into new sectors.

Lesson 2 - “We were inefficient”: Even those businesses priding themselves on efficiency found new ways to be more productive, cut waste and speed up delivery. They say necessity is the mother of invention and new processes and systems were quickly introduced to find ways of doing things differently to cope with home working, reduced staffing levels and lumpy supply chains.

Lesson 3 - “We were over-staffed”: As the battle for skills intensified over several years, even businesses with spare capacity hoarded skills at a loss of productivity, as large numbers of redundancies were announced between March and July the necessity to hoard skills was replaced by a necessity to hoard cash. The government Job Retention Scheme also placed large numbers of people on furlough which many firms have had to live without and now realise they may not require in the future.

Lesson 4 - “We were over-geared”: The need to have buffer cash reserves capable of sustaining wages and essential overheads for up to 6 months became apparent when the unexpected happened. Good financial planning and management suddenly became the most important part of running a business. We are now helping many clients to secure Financial Controllers, Managers, Directors and CFO’s who can help them to rebuild their financial position and create integrated cash flow, P&L and balance sheets to secure high levels of long term funding.

Lesson 5 - “We were under invested in IT systems”: The world moved forward about 3 years in as many weeks in terms of agile working but many businesses were under invested and under prepared for the shift to home and mobile working. The results of teams working from their homes, increased productivity and fewer people doing more work have changed the working world for good. We are now working with several clients to recruit IT Support professionals who can build agile, collaborative working systems which are secure and sustainable for the future.

Lesson 6 - “Our employment contracts and procedures were not robust enough”: With a sudden need to change working practices, furloughing and ways to reduce staffing costs affecting most employers, the need for detailed contracts of employment, procedures and handbooks to protect business decisions quickly became necessary. Where our clients lack the necessary in-house support, our network of Specialist HR Advisors was deployed to help, we are also helping clients to recruit HR professionals who can introduce and manage HR and people systems, processes and culture.

Lesson 7 – “We were too reliant on one Sales Channel”: Many of our clients had too few routes to market, such as field sales representatives or physical networking forums. Those with strong e-commerce sites or digital marketing have taken what market share of new business was available during lockdown. We are now assisting clients to recruit e-commerce and digital marketing specialists to create new digital and e-commerce platforms.

There are likely to be many challenges and lessons still to be learned, which is why we are continuing to identify and new ideas and insights to share with our clients. In addition we are to here to help you rebuild your team to meet the demands of the new, post COVID-19 economy to allow you to come back stronger than ever before.