Leadership for radical times: How to survive the new normal in business

by Vincent Wee
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There is no getting away from the massive impact a Global Financial Crisis will cause. And unfortunately, it is looking like various parts of the world will be hit particularly hard. Take the UK, for example. Seemingly likely to face a recession due to recent economic events that have been negatively impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19.

So, in a world where many, even previously high earning companies, have closed their doors, unable to survive their lack of business during a lockdown. The question on many minds is, how are existing companies coping with what is likely an even trickier time ahead financially? And for that matter, what about new startups?

It is not going to be easy; that’s for sure, especially if we are indeed heading to the worst financial situation since records began. So hard times ahead are expected. Hard but not impossible. Companies and individuals are certainly set for challenging times if they are to stay in business, let alone expand. 

But, as is usually the case in tricky situations, there are exceptions to the rules, those that thrive in times of strife. So this brings us onto the question of how companies can thrive in the current and impending difficult times.

Finding and filling a gap in the market

It doesn’t matter what the current state of the economy is; there will always be an area that continues to do well or even manages to expand to the next level. Particular niches will see growth even during volatile times. A more obvious example would be that discount retail stores will almost certainly see an increased footfall and sales, whereas the more upmarket retailers may have an extra cause for concern laid at their door. 

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Or another way a business can still thrive in difficult times is by finding a gap in the market. After all, gaps can often open up during economic uncertainty. Business owners and ‘would-be startups’ may like to base their next moves on the results we learned from lockdown.

Surely, what was doing well business-wise in lockdown was limited to what was allowed to be opened. And what was doing exceptionally well might not be required in the same way as it was during a full lockdown.

Adapting to new viewpoints

But it is not just about what did and did not do well. It’s also about other discoveries. Think about what else we learned during the lockdown. Such as the proof that many people can work from home. As a result, many take the view that companies should allow staff the option to do so. 

Of course, this is not something that would work for all jobs, and some may prefer not to work from home, but the opportunity should be there. 

Business leaders should keep this in mind, as any staff that they hire may well have an expectation now to be offered a work-at-home option, where reasonable. And this could be an advantage, with companies possibly seeing an increase in staff morale, flexibility and a reduction in costs, such as office space.

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COVID-19 adaptations

On a critical note, business leaders need to make sure that their business is fully adaptive to a COVID-19 world. Health and safety should be at the forefront of any business setup. However, now there are naturally going to be a further set of concerns that need to be addressed. 

Staff must see that their bosses are doing everything in their power to keep them safe. Preventing the spread of the virus is essential; it is an area that no company can be seen failing.

Innovation should not be underestimated

Just because of changing times and the required reactions to do things differently, this does not mean that innovations and innovators take a back seat. In fact, it should be the opposite. 

The change leads to the perfect space for new businesses to start up. It creates new ways to adapt to any required changes, and it is often by doing this a significant new business venture can be formed. If businesses are to thrive in the new era, they should innovate a new structure or new products and services right.

Having and exercising flexibilities

Perhaps another thing that this crisis has shown us is how important it is to be prepared for any scenario. So, having a flexible plan is essential. However, no business owner will know what is coming and can adapt too ahead of time. But if we are to be at least a little honest, we have discovered how we could be a bit more ready for anything that might disrupt our way of life and business.

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If anything does come up that threatens a business’s chances of being able to carry out their usual way of trading, a backup plan is a must. Having one can make a world of difference to business survival. As a simple example, how did (some) restaurants and cafes continue to trade and survive during full lockdown when nobody was allowed to eat in at establishments? 

They offered takeaway or delivery services when the majority of these cafes and restaurants would not typically have. With this more simple example, the adaptation was a natural option, but they would still have had to adapt their kitchens, suppliers, logistics, etc.

The challenging times ahead

Going forward globally, there will be difficult times, financially, with many different sectors going through challenges they have not had to face before. But there is plenty of possibility for some great startups to emerge and existing companies to find a way to stay strong. It’s all about taking the right factors into account, working with the right people, and having the right plan of action.

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