What’s your post-Covid business recovery plan?

As we start to get used to a post-Covid world, with lockdowns – hopefully! – being in the past, it’s time to reevaluate what has changed, and make plans for the future.

And nowhere is this more true than in business. It’s highly unlikely that your business has not been affected by the pandemic in some way.

Perhaps you were forced to close down during lockdowns. Maybe you adapted your operations in an attempt to keep going. Or it could be that your business has thrived during these strange times, but now that temporary success is ebbing.

However you find yourself right now, you’ll benefit from taking stock and setting in place a post-Covid recovery plan. And that’s exactly what we’re going to help you formulate in this article.

Six steps to your post-Covid recovery plan

To help guide you through the process, we’ve put together these six steps to follow.

1) Conduct a SWOT exercise

Conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) exercise will give you an overview of where your business is now, what issues you need to address, and what opportunities you can grasp.

To get started, draw a large square and then divide it into four smaller squares. Then label each box. Write “Strengths” in the top left box, “Weaknesses” in the top right box, “Opportunities” in the bottom left box, and “Threats” in the bottom right box. 

Now fill in each box. Here are some tips to help you for each section.

  • For Strengths, you can ask questions like: What do we do brilliantly well? How are we better than the competition? What are our most profitable products or services?
  • For Weaknesses, you can ask questions like: What could we do better? How are we vulnerable? Where or why do we lose money?
  • For Opportunities, you can ask questions like: What opportunities have we not yet embraced? Are there emerging trends we can use? What more could we do for our customers or clients?
  • For Threats, you can ask question like: Are there any weaknesses that make us vulnerable? What would happen if a new competitor emerged? What would happen if we lost our best customer(s) or clients(s)?

Treat this as a brainstorm session in which you want to get as many ideas down as possible while you’re in flow. Don’t worry about elaborating on any thought (this can come later); bullet points will do. It’s important to consider this in the light of a post-Covid world. The needs of your customers or clients may well have changed over the past two years. Or the way you deliver your offering.

Don’t simply assume that your business can revert to the way you used to work pre-Covid. If you do, you may leave yourself open to threats. Or you may miss new opportunities that your competitors embrace and benefit from.

Once you’re finished, analyse your SWOT diagram, and think about what actions can come out of it. Take each section in turn, and make a new list of everything you have written inside it. Now is the time to elaborate: what ideas can you come up with to either maximise or take advantage of a strength or opportunity? Or minimise or prevent a weakness or threat? 

2) Review your offering

Once you’ve finished your SWOT review of your business, turn your attention to your products or services. Did any insights emerge from the SWOT exercise? Do your customers or clients still want the same thing from you they needed before Covid? Or are there subtle or big differences?

Is the landscape the same as it was before the pandemic, or are there new players on the market, increasing the competition and maybe even raising standards or innovating faster? And if so, how does your offering compare? Are you still competitive? Are you innovative enough? Can you make any changes to what you do or sell that would give you an edge?

It may be that your offering changed during the pandemic. How many of those changes are still needed now? And what can you learn from them to make your business better? It could be that some changes you keep, whereas others you can let go now we’re getting back to normal.

Now is not the time for complacency! So be honest with yourself when reviewing what you do, and don’t be afraid to make changes. It’s better to experiment, review and adapt, even if some of your experiments don’t work, than it is to stay safe and risk being left behind.

3) Consider your customers

Our lives have changed dramatically in the past two years, and it could be that the needs of your customers or clients are now different. Or perhaps your customer base has changed.

So if you already have avatars (also known as personas) for your business, it’s wise to review them now. Consider how their lives and needs have changed; and not just by Covid but all the others things we’re dealing with right now, including the cost of living crisis.

Research shows that 91% of us are worried about the rising cost of living, and changing our behaviour to save money. This includes choosing cheaper brands, cutting down on luxuries and reviewing subscriptions.

Think about how this might affect your customers and their buying habits, and how your business can respond as a result. For example, would your customers or clients be interested in new, value-based goods or services? Or can you reposition your offering to make it an easier buy right now? Bear this in mind when thinking about who is buying from you.

If you don’t yet have avatars of your customers or clients, you can read how to create them here.

4) Check your profitability

If you’ve ever joined one of our free Pricing Challenges, you’ll know how important it is to keep an eye on the money in your business – and the common traps people can fall into.

If you don’t already do so, we recommend keeping a monthly profit and loss spreadsheet open on your browser, and update it throughout the month. This will give you an instant overview of the financial health of your business, and enable you to make wiser, more informed financial decisions. It will also show you, honestly, whether you are actually making money, and whether it is enough.

Talking of earning enough, have you sat down and calculated what your business does need to earn to pay you the income you want or need? If you have never done this, now is the time to do it.

Here’s an exercise we take business owners through to help them understand what their business needs to make in order to meet their financial needs.

To start, you need to know:

  • How much you want or need to earn a year.
  • How many weeks you can earn a year, taking into account school and other holidays.
  • How many days a week you can or want to work.
  • How many hours a day you can or want to work.

When you have this information, work out how many hours a year you can work by multiplying the number of weeks you can work, by the number of days a week, by the number of hours a day.

So, for example, if you can work 40 weeks a year, four days a week and six hours a day, you can work 960 hours a year. Divide your desired annual income by this number to understand how much you need to earn an hour from your business.

So if you wish to earn £40,000 a year, and you can work 960 hours a year, you need to be earning £42 an hour after expenses are deducted. A simpler sum is to divide your annual income by 12 to get the amount your business needs to be able to pay you a month, after expenses. In this example that would be £3,333.

As obvious as these calculations may be, most small business owners don’t do them. Instead they celebrate any money coming in as a win. But realistically, if your business isn’t bringing in what you need to earn, something needs to change. Otherwise you may end up working for far less than you deserve, and can get.

For some people, this knowledge leads them to the realisation they may be better off returning to paid employment. For others it spurs them on to make changes in their business so it DOES give them the income they need.

Keeping on top of your monthly profitability will enable you to see that you are earning what you need – and if not gives you the opportunity to make changes. This may be something you already have in place, but if not, now is the time to start.

5) Look after yourself

The next step in our post-Covid recover plan is to make sure that your needs are still being met by your business. How do you feel coming out of two years of lockdowns? Are you still in love with your business? Have your needs or feelings changed?

It can be hard to remain in love with your business over the years, even in good times. Do you still have the passion for what you do? And if not, what is missing that you can change?

If you haven’t done so yet, identify your business mission and vision. And if you already have them, revisit them and check they are still right for you and your business. It’s important to be clear about who you help and why – and ensure that is in alignment with your values and needs.

If you don’t feel you are in a great place right now, consider whether it’s your business or your life in general that needs some changes. We’ve created an easy Love Your Life audit that takes you through all the areas of your life and helps you put together an action plan to move forward. You can get access to it for free here.

6) Make a plan and work towards it

Our final step is to make sure that you do make a plan – and that you stick to it. In the many years we’ve worked with entrepreneurs and freelancers, we’ve noticed a commonality in those who succeed. And it’s very simple: they follow a plan and work consistently on it.

This doesn’t mean you need to invest hours a week on working on your business. In fact, the most successful plans are those that don’t require super-human efforts from you. Instead they have simple steps you can easily fit into your working day or life.

So make a do-able, realistic plan for the changes you want to make in your business and life and work on them. It helps to set yourself SMART goals to work towards, and to have a firm vision of what your business and life will be like when you achieve these changes.

Just think: if you follow the steps in this article, review your business and life, make a plan and follow it, where could you be in six or 12 months time? How much might your life and business have changed for the better? And whatever happens in the world, how confident could you feel that you are ready to embrace it and thrive? The next step is up to you!

There are always opportunities

Whatever comes up for you when reviewing your business, please don’t despair. Things might have been tough the past few years, or they might be tougher now. But there are always opportunities, even in tough times.

As we explain here, difficult times like recessions can be good times to start and operate business. You just need to ensure that you are able to honestly evaluate the market, your customers and their needs, and are unafraid to innovate to meet the needs of the market.

Just as you may have needed to adapt to address lockdowns over the past two years, there’s a good chance you’ll need to adapt again in today’s post-Covid world. And while this may be scary, and may be difficult at times, it can also lead to a stronger business and more rewarding wins.

So if you haven’t already created your post-Covid recovery plan, we recommend booking a half day in the next two weeks and following the steps outlined in this article. We’re certain you’ll reap the benefits if you do.

Photo by Christina