The COVID-19 virus is a major global disruption. The impact on the U.S. economy has been substantial with major loss of jobs and productivity resulting from the shutdown. Small businesses are facing major challenges and significant uncertainties about the future.
Based on the evolution over the last couple of months, the recovery path will not lead to a return of our old normal, and this “next normal” is still being defined. Despite the major uncertainties, businesses, large and small, are reacting to these events to create conditions for continued operation. Clearly the impacts vary significantly depending on the industry.
The speed of change and the many uncertainties are challenging small businesses that may lead to a wait and see attitude. Nevertheless, business owners must react to the events and reinvent themselves to the extent needed to restore profitability.
Bucks County business owners could get started on an economic path to recovery by participating in an informative discussion geared to business success in the wake of COVID-19. SCORE Bucks County has been implementing a program to help small businesses develop actions required for sustainability.
The first installment is an hour long webinar I will be leading titled “The Next Normal and its Business Impact.”
This Webinar will review how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve from a business perspective, will review some other examples of major disruptions, provide some examples of changes already underway, and review a process for businesses to develop alternatives to move forward. It is much more difficult to do any planning, but it is necessary to establish a road map for the short term.
The basic assumptions required for this exercise are some changes will be permanent. Business owners need to react quickly to events, so flexibility and agility are essential for success. In addition, owners should be customer-centered, increasing communications with customers and evaluating the product mix, since the pandemic will lead to additional needs in the market. Additional waves of infection could lengthen the time to achieve the next normal. Therefore, it is essential that owners establish a financial plan for resilience.
This road map will be developed based on a self-assessment of the business using two well-known tools – the Business Model Canvas and the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. Results of this self-assessment, along with experiences from other industries and the owner’s knowledge of his/her business provides some basis for a forecast. This forecast should be closely monitored. If the trends are not positive, the plan needs to be quickly revised to adapt to the new situation.
For more information on pivoting your business in the next normal, join SCORE Bucks County’s webinar on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. Register at buckscounty.score.org/. SCORE mentors are available to provide additional business-related guidance free of charge. To schedule a mentoring session, call 215-943-8850.
Alberto Casadei is retired from the energy industry and has extensive experience in operations management, engineering, product development, and business development. He is a certified Mentor with SCORE Bucks County since 2013 and serves as the Chapter’s Operations Committee Chair.