Over the recent months we have all seen the effects and have also been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of the measures taken to combat the virus were unprecedented and this created much uncertainty in our lives – both at home and at work.

There were many questions about what the impacts might be, how long we would be under restrictions etc. etc. Some of these questions remain unanswered. What has been apparent for some time is that when we do finally emerge from restricted life in the alert levels, the new world will not be the same. This has been a very strong and consistent view shared by most that we have spoken to in recent months. Equally, in almost the same breath, it seemed there was a real willingness to embrace this “new way” to somehow be better than before. In businesses over many different industry types, the sentiment was that there was ”no way” they would be continuing along the familiar paths of the previous years. This was a new beginning in many respects, wipe the slate clean approach. It was a time to address the issues that were holding the business back and “put things right”. 

Over the years we have worked with many business owners that often “wished” for such an opportunity and, somewhat unexpectedly, here it is. A chance to change things. To do what it takes as most strongly believed this was the time to change otherwise it was unlikely they could carry on.

Then the lock down restrictions begun to ease and a whirlwind of enthusiasm and anticipation swept over the business world. Would customers return? Would there be any work to do? And to the relief of many, the wheels began to move and momentum returned. Slowly, eyes looked to the weeks ahead, and even a little further beyond as we all dared to believe the recovery was here and perhaps the worst case scenarios were not going to be reality. It seemed that “fear” was not going to drive behaviour.

So, the big question. What did business owners do differently?

For the businesses that are doing exceptionally well at the moment, the answer was actually in 3 parts.

  1. First, they looked at their people and asked
    “what can I do to ensure the team has a job and a future in this business?”
  2. Second they looked at their offering and asked
    “what does my customer actually want from the business?”
  3. Thirdly, and this is the most significant change I have seen throughout the SME world – they asked themselves
    “what do I want from my business?”

Without a doubt, the 3rd part is the most significant change successful business owners have made. For many, it is the first time they have actually addressed this question.

One of the most significant changes they almost immediately made was a relatively simple one.
No more credit!! That’s it. If you can’t pay, then we don’t do the work. Cash has always been “king” and now more than ever, it is vital we get paid for the work we do. Owners have had enough of running a very profitable business but having no money. That was the old way. The new way is simply to focus on clients that pay on time. I describe it like this: If you went into a TV retailer and said to them “I can’t pay you, so will you give me a 65” TV for free?”, what do you think the response would be? 

So why do business owners do it?