“You can’t make up for lost time. You can only do better in the future.” This quote from Ashley Ormon sums up the difficulties that have surrounded this year’s multiple lockdowns in England. For many businesses, they have caused this year to come to a stuttering halt. Dwindling customer footfall has affected profits and forced businesses to shut up shop.
For others, however, the lockdowns and slowdowns have been utilised efficiently. Freeing up time for more administrative tasks has allowed business owners to review current practices and make changes. Dare we say it, the lockdown may even have been a blessing in disguise for some!
With another lockdown now in full swing, it is important to use this time practically. We wanted to explore some ways in which businesses can utilise this time that has been afforded to them. With some exciting medical news this week, businesses may hopefully be able to emerge in the new year with new-found purpose and drive.
Assessing Current Business Processes
Try and treat this second lockdown as some much-needed time to assess current processes and business practices. We all lament administrative work as time-consuming and fruitless, but it is still necessary. Now can be the time to take hold of it.
Managing your cashflow processes is crucial for survival during this time. Take time to review where your money currently lies. If you have payments to make, is there any flexibility or deadline extension you can utilise? Or, if you are owed money, are you allowing too much time between chasing creditors? There is also the question of stock – while this year will likely lead to a surplus, is it worth assessing how much stock you are ordering in future? Virgate Accounts can provide professional advice to effectively manage your cashflow.
You might also use this time to ensure your business premises are meeting current and potential future regulations for safety. Social distancing and sanitisation do not appear to be reducing any time soon, so you might take this quiet period to alter your working space. Another alternative is to embrace the working from home you currently offer. Research has found that employees often respond positively to this option, and fully embracing it post-lockdown can be viewed as a business benefit.
These are just some of the inner reflections you may take – the important point is to use this time effectively to review your business.
Review Customer Base and Offering
You may want to use this time to consider your current products and services. There will be some businesses that will have to pivot and adapt their services completely, while others may find that they are more relevant than ever. Is what you are offering still sufficient in a post-Covid world?
Use the time and knowledge we now have to reflect on your own output. The results you find will then dictate how your business should move forward. Are there new areas you can invest in, or new ways of working? Is there a new avenue you have been interested in exploring but couldn’t invest the time in? Now may be the time to start thinking creatively.
Research is key. While it is not everyone’s favourite pastime, it may prove to be hugely beneficial. With newly afforded time on your hands, you can afford to research the practicalities of your new ideas. You can also assess the competition and find out how they are adapting. There may be something you are missing which can open new doors for your business and attract new customers.
Update Your Business Systems
If the recent lockdowns have taught us anything, it is the importance of technology in running your business. Businesses that have not taken the time to research and invest in updated technology have struggled and found themselves moving slower than their competitors.
Finding the right systems for your business takes time and research. Business owners need to weigh up what they absolutely require with the budget they have. Work through the current pain points and look to address these first.
Communication technologies have become increasingly important with working from home practices being adopted. While Zoom has been a great addition for many, is it the most effective solution for you moving forward? There are different software options you can use which will integrate with other applications and streamline your communication.
Are you working with slow ePOS systems? Use the time while your premises are quiet to bring in a new one. The reduced footfall can also allow you to fact-check and test any potential bugs before business picks back up.
There are enough advances in technology that you can essentially work equally as efficiently from home as you can from the office. If you are fully integrated and utilising cloud software, you can ensure your business is streamlined and working cohesively. If you are looking for additional platforms that can help, be sure to check out the suite of free apps you get with Virgate Accounts. Our software provides live dashboards and makes it straightforward for managing finances and employees on the move.
Outsourcing and Resizing
This lockdown may give you some time to address your current staffing needs. This always proves a little more challenging as it may mean having to reduce headcount and put employees on furlough leave, or worse. This is the time to fully assess your business requirements, which departments are crucial and costs that have to be cut.
The first piece of advice should always be taking a detailed look at all your current employees. Assess their current business responsibilities and look at areas for improvement. It may be that some of your own workload can be passed to employees, or certain departments can pick up the responsibilities of other business areas. Now more than ever is the time to shake things up.
If your review naturally leads you to consider reducing headcount, there are many options out there. Outsourcing is one of the primary options, and we reviewed the business benefits of an outsourcing model in a previous blog. This can allow you to reduce headcount and office space while also retaining productivity.
Our final piece of advice for using the time wisely is to keep on top of government support loans and grants. For small to medium-sized businesses, these can provide a lifeline for getting through the lockdown.
Whether you are looking to benefit from government assistance or looking for guidance on any of the above, Virgate Accounts are here to help. We offer a professional, remote accounts team dedicated to your business. Partnering with Virgate also provides free access to market-leading software and applications, helping you keep on top of finances.
Are you interested in partnering with Virgate Accounts? Contact our team today or book a free consultation call >>