We live in unpredictable times in a world that is rapidly transforming and this is especially true in the business world. With swift changes in technology and unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses can be turned upside down and markets can topple in no time. Though no one can predict the future, with a degree of foresight, you can plan and formulate strategies to manage bad times that may occur.
Here are six handy tips for strategic planning during uncertain times.
1. Multiple Revenue Sources
If you establish multiple sources of income, this helps you to manage problems or crises when they occur. This could mean investing in more than one industry or diversifying your product range for different markets. This way, if one income source is compromised, you still have revenue coming in from another.
For example, if you are a software developer focused on entertainment software, why not branch into educational or healthcare apps. If the entertainment industry is facing a slump, you can focus on the educational sector. Being multidisciplinary pays off, so it’s always good to develop a strategy based on diverse markets and wider business collaborations.
2. Maintain a Flexible Approach
Incorporating an element of flexibility into your strategy is critical. Gone are the days of rigid strategies. When you encounter a difficult period, instead of watching the scenario and idly waiting for it to pass, you can find even better ways to be active and sustain the business if you are flexible.
A rigid plan is no good: you have to foresee multiple outcomes, including contingencies and plan accordingly. Scenario planning can be helpful in times of uncertainty, planning for various eventualities instead of making a single plan.
Besides the long-term objectives, it is advisable to have several short term plans. Planning must be done in such a way that you can easily modify or even discard your plans if unexpected developments make this necessary, yet still hold fast to your main objectives. With flexibility and agility, you can act swiftly to tackle unexpected events.
3. Stay Informed
If you take your business seriously, you need to keep up to date with even the tiniest of developments that can have an impact on your endeavours. You should always strive to be the first to know the latest developments and immediately take necessary action to address any issues.
You could even get a heads up of future events if you observe keenly enough and apply analytical thinking. This will help you to introduce safeguards and better planning well in advance. One must always be on the lookout for changing patterns in customer behaviour and fluctuating market trends. Needless to say, you have to be aware of what the competitors are up to and what new products are emerging in the market.
4. Avoid Internal Incidents
The above strategies mostly seek to address impacts due to uncertainties from external factors. However, disasters can come not only in the form of a pandemic or a global recession which affect to the entire world. Your whole business can come to a standstill because of an incident that affect just your business, such as cyber attack breaching your systems due to failure to implement waap security measures or a fire on your site because of faulty wiring.
Safeguard your assets from any avoidable issues with proper precautions and security measures, such as:
• Maintain regular backups of crucial data and install cybersecurity tools
• Have your electrical wiring and installations periodically checked by expert inspectors
• Insure critical assets and employ surveillance systems to safeguard the financial profile and reputation of your organisation
You never want to wait for an incident to happen before acting – prevention is always better than cure!
5. Focus on Human Resources
Train your employees thoroughly in change management principles, and infuse awareness regarding how they apply within each employee’s limits of work, irrespective of their position in the organisational hierarchy. Teaching leadership skills also helps them in handling uncertainties with confidence.
With the onset of COVID, most companies switched to remote work with WFH (work-from-home) becoming the norm. Such transitions can be hassle-free and instant if employees have the right approach. Otherwise, such a sudden shift can take its toll on your business.
6. Build Trust
At the end of the day, your customers are your bread and butter: never neglect them. Building trust is essential, as the connections you establish with your customers during good times will come through when times are tough. Never compromise on the quality of your customer service. It’s normal to lose customers when unexpected developments adversely affect consumer confidence. But with long-term trust, you will retain your customers even through a global crisis.
As we live in times of fast-paced transformations on a global scale, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen in the future. Many factors are out of your control. However, there are certain things that are within your control, and it is critical that you do all you can to manage these.