Here Erica Wolfe-Murray, founder of Lola-Media.co.uk, offers her expertise on how businesses can emerge from isolation stronger and more resilient
Since the UK’s lockdown started on March 23rd, the phone line of my innovation consultancy has been hot. There have been calls from clients looking for assistance in safeguarding their companies. Even more calls from new clients wanting to emerge from the pandemic’s shadow with a stronger and more resilient venture. And then there are the self-employed caught in the maelstrom of shrinking contracts whilst making up an ever-growing part of the UK’s economy.
All of them have asked how to strengthen their ventures in the face of an unknown future. So here is a summary of some of the action points that have emerged…
No going ‘back’ – a new normal
It is clear to me that there will be no return, re-build, re-boot or any other word beginning with ‘re’. There is going to be a new future to which we all have to contribute. And the longer lockdown lasts, the more change will emerge as it is generally understood to take just 30 days for new behavioural habits to form.
Your future success lies in your route to ‘here’
Although the world we emerge into will look different, no company or individual should underestimate their potential capability for innovation in that environment. Whatever fields you have worked in, do a deep dive into your knowledge, asking tough questions what those worlds might look like ahead. What aspects can you harness to build products and services for the new normal?
Growth of freelance capability – a global asset
Over the last four years, the UK’s army of self-employed workers has grown to over 5 million (Labour Market Statistics, ONS). Post COVID-19, this figure is set to rise following redundancies by failing or contracting companies. As part of this flexible, inventive, readily accessible workforce, the newly self-employed will need to be adept at taking advantage of new global working technologies, ensuring they are seen, heard and valued.
And those who deliver services in person can take a leaf out of the UK’s vibrant creative industries’ book – where joint project work on films, theatre, app or game development has seen this sector as a beacon for self-employed collaboration.
Regional – an inspiring opportunity
Just as online capability can bring a global digital audience, over the last weeks the vulnerability of global supply chain and markets has been highlighted. The development of markets on your doorstep will be part of the new normal. Shuttered stores on quiet high streets herald opportunities. Small regional chains offering popular local models with a global online presence have the potential to become tomorrow’s darlings.
Collaboration with competitors
Rather than regarding competitors as a threat, working jointly could drive new potential for your future. What common interests and audiences can you develop now that set you up for the future?
For example in the US, empty malls are re-inventing themselves attracting multiple fitness and well-being outlets drawing footfall in a similar model to food courts.
Fast pivoting – small ventures’ secret weapon
As the world emerges from COVID-19 blinking into the sunlight, small companies have a capability to pivot their offer in myriad ways, potentially out-manoeuvring large corporations. Planning these steps whilst in lock-down needs to be a key part of your strategy to ensure you can take immediate advantage of a changed marketplace.
Developing varied income streams
I have long espoused the need for companies and individuals to have more than one income stream coming into their business. Adapting your business model to add new revenues is not difficult for any size of company or for a freelancer. It builds resilience and flexibility. During lockdown we have seen countless inventive examples. This thinking needs to be part of your modus operandi now and in the years ahead. There are endless ways of developing revenues from what you already know, own, or have. Treat these intellectual assets as you would your store-cupboard, drawing on them inventively.
Erica Wolfe-Murray is a leading innovation and business expert and the Author of ’Simple Tips Smart Ideas’.