Everyone needs a strong business plan when starting up a new business but how many of you now feel like you’re running a start-up business once again, only without the right plan, thanks to the events of the last 18 months?
I’ve been speaking to a number of clients and business owners recently and many of them have said they now feel like they did when they first started out. Except this time they have a full team to look after, all of the costs and pressures of an established business and a business plan that is no longer working. It’s tough at the moment!
So apart from the obvious, what’s changed, and why are so many business owners feeling like this? In reality it’s because everything has changed and a return to ‘normal’ is going to mean understanding and learning to navigate how the pandemic has permanently affected your business, your customer base and your markets. It may not be all bad news as it may have opened up new opportunities for you. However, all of this may be adding pressure on top of the pressure that we are all feeling from the lockdown.
When you first started out, you would have spent time researching the market and the sectors you wanted to supply to and asking yourself hundreds of questions about what was out there already, what was needed and how you could build a strong product or service line to attract and serve customers. Effectively this is what you need to do again, look at what is out there, look at the change in demand and more importantly what is needed to deliver it and base your revised business plan on this.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask yourself, is this what you want out of the business going forward? Does this give you the right work/life balance and can you still plan for your future? I will touch on this point more in my next article.
For many business owners their whole business model might need to change considerably and I appreciate that this is a very scary prospect. For others it will just need adapting, so what else is there to consider?
I would suggest that everyone goes back to basics and reviews all aspects of their business plan, products, services, supply chain, route to market, workforce, warehousing, distribution, sales, marketing, advertising, financing, staffing, location ... the list is seemingly endless but really everything needs to be reviewed to see if it is still relevant, working or if it needs changing.
Take the time now to stand back and review. The good news is that this time you have the benefit of your knowledge, and experience and that of your team around you.
Many businesses will have business bounce back loans and I would suggest that you start looking at the opport-unities to refinance this lending. Many banks are offering the opportunity to increase the repayment period over a longer period to help with cashflow.
In trying to understand the barriers to growth that your business may face now, especially post Covid, it is perhaps important to also look at some of the wider issues that affect women entrepreneurs, such as the lack of funding.
Research published by Extend Ventures (Diversity Beyond Gender, November 2020) shows “between 2009 and 2019, 68.33% of the capital raised across the seed, early and late venture capital funding stages went to all male teams, 28.80% to mixed teams and 2.87% to all female teams. Black female entrepreneurs experienced the poorest outcomes with just 10 receiving venture capital investment over the 10-year period and non-receiving late-stage funding.” This is clearly something which has to change and fast.
Finally, do try to remain positive, easier said than done I know, but even in the most difficult of times there are always new opportunities.
Remember a problem shared is a problem halved so I am always happy to be a sounding board if you need to talk.