By the end of March we would have basically been in lock down for a whole year, minus a few summer months where the generous government gave us some half price food. With this in mind I have been reflecting on the last year and starting to review businesses we have worked with. I then started to look at what has made these businesses either successful or what has caused them to struggle. Other than hospitality it does seem the rest of the market has been an even playing field so why have some businesses flourished and why others have struggled. There has been some stand out lessons that we have seen so I wanted to share them.

1.      There were two types of leadership through the first lockdown. The first type of leadership battened down the hatches, closed their businesses and stopped talking to their team and their customers. They assumed that when the world opened businesses would resume as normal. The second type of leader stayed very close to the situation within their specific sector, they were pro-active with their staff with communication and they were in constant contact with their customers. I guess you can imagine what businesses are now flying. The biggest learn here is when times get tough, double down, communicate and make decisions at pace.

2.      It is always too late to invest in technology. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it though! What I mean by this is the investment is constant. Any businesses that had constantly been investing in technology prior to the pandemic were able to mobilise at speed and implement the new working model at the click of their fingers. A great example of this is restaurant’s being turned into takeaway services. The most successful restaurants were the ones that had already implemented technology that allowed their customers to order online and then leveraged off Uber Eats/Deliveroos of the world to deliver the food.  These processes allowed the businesses to transform businesses model overnight.

3.      Cash is always King! This is something you hear people say a lot and although the pandemic has not taught us this, it definitely cemented the meaning of it. What does it mean for a business? Basically any businesses heading into the pandemic with week balance sheets and were already close to the edge got a double kicking. First of all, most of the bank/government support was towards the businesses with historic profits. Then without any cash in the bank these same businesses would have struggled to change their model to fit the new normal. Cash is the anchor that allows businesses to make changes, so when businesses had their income cut to nothing for a few months they had no way of making the necessary adjustments needed. Quite often the businesses that find themselves in this position have a greedy director to blame for draining the funds for lifestyle. You cannot have your cake and eat it in most situations, so look after your cash.

With the vaccination now being rolled out at a huge pace, it seems there could be light at the end of the tunnel. Through chaos, brings opportunity.  There will be some seriously strong robust businesses in all sectors emerge through this storm. These businesses will have better technology, closer relationships with their customers and will be leading the way for the economy to get back on track. If I have missed any other important lessons do call them out as well.