Hope is not a plan: Be honest with yourself
By Adam Snook
By Adam Snook
This won’t be easy to hear, but for some it needs to be said. For some businesses, adapting to the “new normal” was quick and painless. They were already doing a lot of business on-line, so not much changed. Some companies were very quick to shift their focus, build out their e-commerce and social media presence and have weathered the storm well. Other companies haven’t been able to pivot. Either the money wasn’t there, the knowledge or desire wasn’t there, or fear stopped the transition.
Even if COVID hadn’t come along, the shift to online was rapidly approaching anyway. Just having a website is not enough. An active presence where customers can stay engaged even when they don’t need your product is necessary.
If you didn’t have that prior to March 2020, and you still don’t now you need to ask yourself if you’re still interested in being in business. Let’s look at the reasons for not adjusting business on the fly.
No money to implement the changes. If this is the reason you didn’t adapt, then likely COVID has made the decision for you on whether or not you should remain in business. Taking business or personal loans to keep a company that was barely surviving pre-COVID afloat isn’t a sound decision. Sometimes the hardest thing is to know when to call it quits, but do it before the bank comes knocking.
No knowledge or desire. There’s zero excuse for knowledge to be your reason. If you look on LinkedIn every second person that messages or connects with you is a contract social media or web site designer. Contracting this service out makes total sense if you’re not inclined towards technology. If lack of desire was your reason then maybe it’s time to look at bringing in someone who gets excited about the potential that the new economy brings, whether it’s a partner, or just an employee who’s motivated to help the business grow. Either that or it might be time to sell, hopefully before the lack of desire to keep current starts to affect the value of your company by bringing down your bottom line too much.
Fear. This one is understandable. We were all shell shocked when COVID came. Preservation mode kicks in and you stop all expenditures. But once we were deemed an essential service and realized there was still business to be done we should have started to look at what it was going to take to keep the lights on. If business is still ticking along, the fear should have subsided and you should actively be working on improving your online presence.
If you’re planning on business for the long term, there are things that we can focus on now that will help us down the road.
Fleet. If you’re sitting on equipment that’s been inactive or under-utilized for a number of years, now is a great time to sell it. Used equipment values are sky high, and even if you don’t feel like selling it by yourself the auctions are getting record prices for most equipment. Having the extra cash is never a bad thing.
Staff. Now that we all have the required COVID procedures figured out we can take some time to see if there’s any other training that might be a benefit to our staff and business. TDG, WHMIS, operator training courses, there’s a long list of ways we can educate and improve our people. This may also be the time to upgrade your staff, if you’ve got people who are not the right fit there’s a pretty good chance someone out there is looking for a position right now who maybe a better fit.
Facility. Take the time to do any cost-effective improvements. Paint the showroom or outside of the building, fix the fence, repair any potholes in the yard. None of these are expensive, but they’ll all add to the feel of the business as things get back to normal.
The government is going to be pumping billions into infrastructure projects to stimulate the economy, savings accounts are full of cash that people plan on spending on Reno’s, and credit to grow is going to be cheap for a number of years.
If you’ve accepted the new realities and challenges and set your business up for success, the future looks bright!
Adam Snook owns JustBins, a Regina-based provider of waste disposal solutions. His background includes building First Choice Rentals, an Alberta based equipment rental and oilfield service provider.