At the start of 2020 things looked good for most UK businesses. Certainly, no one would have thought that by September we’d be staring down the barrel of another recession, have spent half the year working from home or would be seeing so many household brands edge towards administration.
In a world of globalisation, rapidly developing technology and customer demand that can change overnight, businesses should always be planning for the worst and finding ways to diversify at a moment’s notice. Businesses need to be nimble, agile and able to adjust to the world around them quickly.
Diversity during lockdown
In April oil prices fell to a negative level for the first time in history. This effectively meant suppliers were paying businesses to take oil off them. Why? Because to stop pumping oil would have been even more expensive. The decrease in demand also meant oil tankers were left empty and docked at ports costing shipping companies huge amounts in lost revenue.
Rather than waiting for the market to recover however, the companies in charge of those tankers offered their empty ships as an alternative form of storage to the oil companies. An innovative switch from transportation to storage provider and a win-win for both parties.
Another example is BrewDog who in mid March switched production to hand sanitiser. Not only did they respond to a huge spike in demand, it allowed them to keep production flowing when pubs, bars and restaurants were unable to sell their products.
These are just two examples of businesses who didn’t bow down to lockdown or Covid but looked at the situation creatively, identified new markets with increased demand and pivoted to service new customer requirements.
The Danger of ‘If it isn’t broke don’t fix it’
It’s true that during hard times the process of assessment, review and change comes more naturally. After all, a lack of growth, progress or success are very obvious signs things are going wrong.
But what about when results are positive? If a business is growing, then embracing change can be a hard sell. Sometimes it’s right to not change but if you are ignoring the reasons for your success it means you cannot see potential future risks.
Fundamentally if you don’t know your business, and you don’t know your market, you can’t see what’s coming down the road or put advanced planning in place.
Positive results are what we all want from our businesses but Covid-19 has hammered home the lesson that the world is never static and the unexpected can happen at any point.
And the only real protection from the unexpected is a culture which embraces change, adopts fast learning and makes data driven decisions.