During COVID-19, businesses had to adapt to survive. Now, as we begin looking to a post-COVID future, businesses need to revisit their strategies and long-term planning, taking into account a changing business landscape.
"Businesses need a plan to capture as many quality opportunities [as they can] in a quick and efficient manner," says Eropa Stein, founder of Hyre, a hospitality platform.
Here are four reasons why now is the perfect time to start planning for a post-COVID marketplace.
A Growth Mindset Is Essential to Success
During the harshest lockdowns, businesses were just trying to survive. But to stay competitive post-COVID, they will need to get back into the growth mindset, according to Stephen Light, co-owner of Nolah Mattress.
"Most businesses resorted to drastic measures to stay afloat, and they also postponed development projects since it's challenging to scale the business currently," he said. "The post-COVID-19 era is a signal for businesses to continue striving for growth. If businesses still operate like they're in the darkest moments of the pandemic, their competition will overshadow them. When this happens, they'll lose customers since people will likely choose the more progressive competitor."
Employee Safety Will Be Critical
At the start of the pandemic, everyone was playing catch-up with safety measures. Now that we're almost a year in, businesses have the benefit of experience and science they can put to use in their plans. Understanding that safety measures will be necessary for the foreseeable future, will let businesses plan smarter for the next phases of the pandemic.
"The worst thing a business can do while recovering from the pitfalls of COVID is rushing the return to the office," says Holly Winters, a spokesperson for compliance software company ComplianceBridge. "Nothing will wreck your reputation like endangering your own workforce will."
Aside from putting precautions like wearing masks and keeping six feet of distance from other employees in place, Winters said that employees must read and acknowledge the new policies before they return to work. Then, employers "can return to business as usual without fearing for the safety of their employees."
Consumers Will Still Spend More Time at Home
When the lockdowns hit London, Nabil Freeman had to close his salon, LeSalon, and take his entire workforce online. He started offering customers at-home products instead, which has proven to be a solid business model that other businesses could learn from.
"Luckily, at-home beauty treatments are stronger than ever because customers don't want to visit busy salons anymore, so we are going to only focus on this side of the business going forward," he says.
Freeman anticipates that post-COVID, the business world won't look the same, and companies will need to adapt to people staying at home and DIYing more often. "We have been lucky so far that demand for beauty services is still high, but who knows if customers will come back after two years of DIY."
Customers May Have Forgotten You Exist
During COVID, a lot of businesses have had to shut down at least temporarily. When they come back, business owners need to have a plan to remind customers they still exist.
According to Baron Christopher Hanson, lead consultant and owner of RedBaronUSA, business owners must invest in pivoted advertising messaging by re-painting or refreshing physical signage or a business entrance, modifying online marketing strategies, by putting up new photos and videos, and sending personalized direct mail to customers.
"In other words, the key to new business model survival is new and personal communication," he says.
Reasons for Optimism
There is good reason to be optimistic as vaccinations are underway, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be rewards for innovative businesses that find new ways to promote themselves and find creative methods to service the post-COVID world.
"Every business has been challenged to revise its business plan due to COVID," said Hanson." Some owners and managers have pivoted more brilliantly than others. Some have been lucky. Sadly, many have been forced to give up. Revising a business plan for the future requires courage, tenacity, and flawless execution in writing."