In the coming months, we will see a re-emergence of many businesses in the US. There will be many that don’t survive those months, but we will start to see a gradual process of re-opening. Some industries didn’t shut down, others are already re-starting, while others are just now planning to re-open their doors. Whichever group you are in, it’s worth thinking about your strategy now. It can make the difference between planning to survive and strategic planning to thrive.
There is no question your strategies are going to need to change for the world of 2021 and beyond. The big question for most of us is “How will our strategies need to change?”
Planning to Survive
To begin with, if you are still in survival mode, it’s important to keep as much of your strategic assets as you can. This means that you have two competing priorities: first, you need to batten down the hatches so you can weather the storm. This means you are likely doing everything you can to keep your spending within the limits of your resources, which may be dwindling if your operations are on pause. The second priority is that you need to preserve your strategic assets, including your brand, your know-how and your ability to re-launch your customer generation functions (like advertising and sales). For many, these assets involve people and cost money to maintain, so survival is likely about balancing the cost against the capabilities you’ll have when you re-open.
Planning to Return
If you’ve already enacted your survival plan, you are likely starting to plan for re-opening of some sort. There are several concerns here, but your primary concern should be the safety of your employees and customers. There are markets where this seems to be a non-issue (like Florida and Georgia), and places, like Vermont, where I live, where customers and employees are taking these issues very seriously. I’d certainly caution you to pay attention to the attitudes in your market, but you may also decide that a more cautious approach is the right thing to do.
Planning for Scenarios
Regardless of your approach, it’s vital to remember that there are three scenarios you want to be prepared for:
1. Re-opening happens smoothly and has little impact on your community
2. Re-opening is not cautious enough, and there is a resurgent public health crisis in your area
3. Re-opening is too slow, and the economic effect on your area is worse
While some think of your planning for these as a political exercise, it’s vital for you to be prepared for all three scenarios. The effects of these scenarios will have an effect on you whether you think they are likely or not. Here are some key questions that have come up in some of the virtual client meetings I’ve had recently:
1. If everything goes smoothly –
a. Will you be able to ramp up your ability to meet demand?
b. Will you have any labor constraints?
c. Will you have any supplier constraints?
d. Will there be regulatory constraints that reduce sales or increase costs?
2. If re-opening is too reckless –
a. Can you limit the effect on your customers?
b. Can you limit the effect on your employees?
c. Are you in danger of being liable for any public health issues?
3. If re-opening it too cautious –
a. Will your customers be able to spend money with you?
b. Will you be able to be profitable at a reduced volume level?
c. Can you use the breathing space to prepare better?
Answering these questions well may make the difference between your business having a smooth re-entry and a disastrous one. It’s well worth taking the time to frame thoughtful answers to these questions now.
Strategic Planning to Thrive
The third preparation is the most strategically important for many companies. There is no question we will see major changes in almost every market in the next one to three years. A recent article in ZDnet said “Welcome to 2025, suddenly pushed 60 months forward”. Digitalization has reached breakneck speeds, and cultural acceptance of things like remote meetings and online ordering is a given, as we attempt to re-start the economy. As our markets adjust to the new normal, we will only succeed through strategic planning to thrive.
This has deep implications for your strategic planning. If you do nothing else, you should spend a little extra time examining your assumptions, and you should pay special attention to the Industry Scenario and Winner’s Profile exercises in Simplified Strategic Planning. For many businesses, there is great value in laying out two or three different scenarios for the next two years and planning for each. In every scenario we have seen so far, it’s been clear that your strategy needs to change.
Are you strategic planning to thrive? If you would like to have a virtual meeting with your team to assess your assumptions and scenarios, Center for Simplified Strategic Planning has professionals with deep experience in strategic planning for crisis recovery. Your competitive position can be greatly enhanced in the next twelve months by how you handle this, so contact us to discuss how you can prepare for recovery – within any budget.