If Pandemics are Here to Stay, What is the Best Long Term Strategy for Businesses?

Shannon Correia January 20, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world with ongoing challenges. While the future remains uncertain, businesses are having to come up with strategies that accommodate these difficulties. Having an effective strategy that considers the realities of the situation facing life as we know it is the best way to prepare and remain resilient in the long term. Here is a look at some of the strategies you can incorporate.

Situational Considerations of the Pandemic

Back in Q1 of 2020, optimistic outlooks predicted that by 2021, the pandemic would have blown over, and businesses would be entering into recovery mode. However, this has not been the case, with many countries re-entering lockdowns and continuing to impose restrictions. The shift has now changed, with a prediction of 18 months before any recovery occurs, yet even that is speculation. Thus, businesses have had to move away from short-term ploys and tactics to make it through the pandemic. 

Aside from the political, legal, and economic regulations and restrictions in place, society and technology have also changed, having a knock-on effect on businesses. When looking at how the pandemic has impacted businesses, one can state that it runs three levels deep, from micro to market and macro stages - in other words, everything has changed.

business strategy in a pandemic

Business Strategy

The crux of this article is all about the best business strategy. With it in place, you can navigate the ongoing world amid a pandemic with a sense of direction that attempts to regain some control over the situation. You should prepare to revisit your strategy in-depth since much may need to change. Begin by determining what your core values are as guiding principles in planning and inform your competitive advantage. For many businesses, the point of this is simply to survive, but for the best strategy, you'll need to have a grander vision that extends beyond survival. Consider the following:

  • Vision and Objectives: Much like your values, this intangible factor significantly influences your strategy and proceedings. Having a cautiously optimistic outlook is healthy, and objectives that carry you from the short to long term is necessary for effective progression during these times. 
     
  • SWOT Analysis: There is no time more pertinent to clearly defining your strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will need to be reassessed regularly, with concerted efforts to use what you have to your advantage and improve where necessary.
     
  • Resource Management: As the pandemic continues, the world is preparing for what is being dubbed the 'Global Lockdown Recession," the worst economic downturn in the last century. As such, and with many adjustments to the businesses, you are managing and allocating resources effectively should be a primary focus for your strategy. 
     
  • Measurement: Measuring your efforts' performance is a crucial way to ensure you are equipped to know how your business is doing. There are various tools available, so ensure you have these in place to measure your efforts and activities. In lieu of this, adjust your expectations to realistic expectations during the pandemic. 

As you determine what your business will need to do to meet its strategic goals, consider a more in-depth look at the business world's context right now. This considers the general ways in which businesses have been affected across the board, but remember - having a successful strategy will need to be tailored to your business specifically. Factors like industry and region separate this. If you'd like a tailored solution for your business, get in touch with us for a one-on-one meeting to discuss further. 

As we've mentioned, the best strategy for businesses is about surviving the pandemic, and the best way to do this is to adapt with a long term view. The emphasis has been on slowing the curve and adopting the treatments which are being developed. This will take time to roll out, and it will be a process before herd immunity is reached. That being said, the way of life will have altered permanently. 'Social distancing' and 'new norms' are here to stay. This leaves businesses in a position to make plans that will ensure their business remains relevant and sustainable. Making it through this pandemic and being wary of future pandemics that could affect society, the modus operandi has moved away from crisis management and long-term strategy. 

Business Planning for the Long Term

Some of the already abound changes include increased unemployment rates, fewer funds available, and more risks faced by decision-makers. This applies to homes and businesses as well. The overarching message that the lockdown following the pandemic has illustrated is that people have had to adjust and make do - some have found comfort in maintaining their surviving position. In contrast, others have forged ahead in the new world. That very same dilemma now faces your business. 

In terms of business changes that are likely to stay in place, the significant changes include new ways of managing teams, new ways of operating, and even new product and service offerings. In your strategy, you need to critically assess whether your offering is feasible and sustainable in the long term. If there is doubt, new solutions need to be developed. 

Assess the feasibility and sustainability of the following:

  • Your product or service offering: Your offering still needs to stand out among your competition and, most importantly, present a solution to your customer base. As needs and behaviors have changed, your products and services will likely need to change as well. 
     
  • Your sales channels: Many brick and mortar stores have had to begin trading online, and those already have seen an increase in e-commerce sales. Social media platforms are also becoming increasingly business-friendly, with the option to sell to customers directly on these channels is becoming the norm. 
     
  • Your operations: How you manage and work is likely to have changed, with an influx of remote working. For many businesses and roles, this is unlikely to change; hence permanent structures need to be put in place for this to occur in the best possible way. Multinational companies will need to consider whether their office spaces are still viable and necessary or if regional headquarters and seasonal conferences with remote working works better for them. Likewise, smaller businesses can apply this to communal working spaces. 

The best strategy will include plans that range in periods, from as short as 3 months to mid-level 9-month plans and finally the full 18 months. It will be about short and mid-term goals that facilitate your brand and business position in the long term. Every area of your business should be open to adaptations.

Though budgets have been restricted and are likely to continue experiencing strain, businesses need to ensure they are investing in and upgrading their technology where needs are. For instance, ensuring your team is connected by a CRM platform and having access to a communication platform's premium features can result in increased productivity and transparency among your team. This transparency extends to customers, too, as it is a value that is appreciated and expected of businesses. Having access to the latest tools and technology also means you can improve the experiences that customers have with your business, which in turn can help you attract newer ones too. 

In Summary

There is no need to reinvent the wheel in terms of developing a business strategy. However, you do need to revisit it and possibly 'reinvent' many of the plans you have for your business in the future. When it comes to navigating your business through a pandemic, having a strategy that is based on innovation rather than crisis management alone is essential. With all of the necessary considerations and contextual factors taken into account, you can apply it in conjunction with your business needs and develop long term solutions in a comprehensive strategy.

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