By Reg Athwal, Founder & MD of RTS Global Partners and the Family Business Academy
In tough times or any crisis situation, there are some critical things to consider to survive, revive and then thrive. Here are a few actions for consideration, that we have been working on with clients as thought patterns and strategies, which have gained measurable results:
1. TALENT & TEAMS: Assess who has not performed with consistency in the past 12 months, prior to the crisis; some businesses have cut 10-50% of their workforce, yet performing better than before – why is that? Were people comfortable before? Were people not being productive before? Has urgency suddenly shown up, that’s demanding people step-up with higher-energy and do more with the same 24 hours a day?
2. CASH-FLOW: Build a detailed cash-flow forecast for the next 9 months; with real-time daily updates and input lots of best-case to worse-case assumptions; play the ‘what-if’ game; now assess what the in-flows will look like with a 25-50% reduction from the collective in-flows – can the company still survive? If not, make critical decisions now and don’t leave it to hope or chance. If you have massive cash reserves – well done! But still do the exercise.
3. CASH-FLOW AGAIN: Review the same cash-flow position with all out-flows; what can be deferred or re-negotiated or has no value to your business; review all your fixed and variables costs – where can you make cuts and become leaner? Sometimes becoming leaner allows for better decision-making and you can operate with more efficiency.
4. ASSETS: What non-performing assets need to be monetized? Every company has something sitting in the balance sheet that will expire or depreciate or die with no value left. Can anything be revived, made workable or be sold to bring in extra cash-flow? The mindset of we might need it later is fine, but what if your business isn’t around then to use it!
5. LEADERSHIP: Assess your leadership team again and again; in good times the market can be forgiving, everyone looks good; however, in tough times the same operational team may not be good with turnarounds or dealing with a bleeding company – some have never been in a recession before. Consider re-deploying people and ensure at the top-level you have a mix of Innovators, Negotiators, Bankers & Investors (review our DNA Model for these profiles or ask for it). In addition, if you have redundant staff or a workforce that’s experiencing long-periods of doing nothing, then consider if they can be used elsewhere – you could have a sudden army available to all be involved in sales to hit new markets – maybe someone in operations can be trained to do online research to support prospecting or someone can support marketing to prepare collateral or handle social media updates or a new team cluster created to develop lots of new ideas for product development. In time of crisis people can’t say that’s not my job role! Either you up-skill fast, help out or move out.
6. STRATEGY: Build parallel strategies for short-term (surviving) wins, medium-term (reviving) sustainability and a long-term (thriving) transformation (all three need different plans or you could miss out on the next 2021-2030 growth cycle); this is a good time to evaluate past performances of all your products and services (stores, outlets, channels, alliances and partnerships). In 2019, were you experiencing volume growth, repeat order growth, strong margin growth, limited competition and great payment terms (for any of your product/service offerings?) or were you already in a declining business area, prior to Covid-19? What do you need to let go of? May be that business arm or unit or branch needs to be closed? Are you emotionally attached? For the long-term, what new offerings can you create? And start now asap. Sometimes another fatal mistake is to continue pouring more debt into a bucket full of holes, sometimes to save our ‘ego’ – people don’t care, what’s more important is you survive, revive and thrive and ensure the legacy continues. It’s time possibly for a re-fresh, build a new operating system, a new model and create a new market fast! Don’t be scared and you don’t need all the answers – just start with one step at a time – anything is possible, and you know this, because that’s how your past businesses started – get back into being an entrepreneur and remind yourself of past successes and not failures.
7. BUSINESS MODELS: In the past 10 years more unicorn ($1b+ valuation companies) have been built in record time, like never before. In the next 10 years (2020-2030), we will witness more $1b start-ups who will achieve this in under 3 years. These start-ups and exponential organizations are typically built with 3-5 people in the founding team, who want to sort out a massive problem that can impact millions or billions of people, experiment with no fancy business plans, use technology at maximum leverage (most of which they have not developed) with plug-and-play models, rent and don’t own things, focus on scaling by building communities and build free cash-flow models – by the time they are a $1b+ enterprise they employ only 50 to 500 people. Are you taking time to rethink what type of business you want to build? Could you unleash 3-5 talented (next-gen) people/members to build a new start-up away from the legacy business? May away from all current stress and tension. Give them a separate environment and get them boot-strapping the next venture.
8. CULTURE: In a time of crisis, most employees have fear, doubt and confusion about the company, the market and their employment; ultimately their security. As leaders, if you also feel this way, you will avoid communicating with everyone and bury your head in the sand. Limiting or avoiding or reducing communications in this time, will increase the fear, doubt and confusion further. As leaders, the communication has to increase, the more you include the workforce with updates, plans, ideas – the more people will get clarity, certainty and become committed to helping you solve the problems. In the long-term these people will trust you more and be loyal members. The opposite will also happen, and A-player talent, which was not inclusive of any communication during the crisis, will find another employer in the next good-times cycle. How you treat people now, will pay off negatively or positively in the future. It will impact your reputation.
9. INNOVATION: More people in the future will be working from home and remotely – this will become the ‘new’ normal – why do you need 100 people in a head office? Technology has evolved in the past 10 years with smarter phones/devices, better bandwidth, more speed, access to the internet all the time, longer battery power and tons of mobile apps for anything you can think of. What we have available today, was not available or workable at the same capacity levels only 10 years ago. Many industries will be transformed linked to Hotels, Conferences, Events, Travel, Transportation, Education, Retail, Healthcare and others. New trillion-dollar industries will emerge with further disruptions linked to Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Block-Chains, Life Sciences, Bio-Tech, Robotics, Smart Cities and more. If businesses don’t find ways to add more value to customers/clients, to provide value faster, in a better way and more conveniently – they will die. If businesses don’t innovate in 2020, they will die. To add more value and to innovate, you need fresh young minds, different talent in the teams (part-time when you need it), be in the market speaking to customers and understanding what they need and how they need it and want it. We have to understand trends, and look at how these trends will impact our industry. What one new breakthrough product or service or model can you develop in 2020 and launch in 2021? Make it your next income stream. We suggest you experiment with 9-10 ideas at the same time – as only 1 or 2 could be viable. Lastly take time to review current Investment Funds in the market, especially what new start-ups are being formed, that are looking for funding – this can also give us clues on what is to come and how we can be involved now. Everything has to evolve – most things will be automated in the future and the middle-class will not be required in companies. What can you automate? Make a decision to evolve too.
For more information on any of the above or to book a free online private session, please email Reg Athwal via email@example.com or WhatsApp +971502118117. Please share the article if you found it useful.