PLAN “B” – Reinventing your business when everything changes
By: John Hotson,
Business Transition Alliance Co-Founder
Plans are worthless – Planning is essential*
Since you bought or started your business, you have worked from a business plan that has provided you with a certain level of success. Over time you have adjusted specific aspects of that plan to respond to competitive pressures, accommodate economic swings and address opportunities in your market. All of this has been done against a backdrop of a reasonably predictable business environment.
However, as of March 2020 the sand beneath our feet shifted as never before, and the assumptions that worked well in more predictable times need to be put aside.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “The thinking that got us to where we are today is not the thinking that will get us to where we need to be”.
You must now develop a Plan “B”.
In your thinking about how you will come back from this seismic shift, you may have already recognized that the next version of your company will require a major rework of your business model. Rather than planning your strategy based on the predictability of historical data, you need to recognize that both your clients and your employees are dealing with significant levels of uncertainty. Your business offering will have to accommodate the reality of a world that has dramatically changed and is likely to continue to change for some time to come.
The key to creating this next iteration company (INC 2.0) will be to take an approach that is both structured and flexible – because that is what the new world order will demand. There are three essential aspects of 2.0 version companies that will provide the structure to help you revamp your company, while at the same time accommodating the flexibility that will be required in order to adapt to ever changing expectations.
Structure and flexibility
Your Plan “B” will need to provide both the structure of a process that will enable you to monitor and measure your progress, and the flexibility of incorporating dynamic shifts in direction as markets and economies fluctuate.
What are the current assets of your business that you will definitely need to preserve and redeploy in a world where everything has changed?
Take a hard look at the things that have made you successful – those assets you mentally keep in your vault. As best as you can, envision how those assets will serve you as your business transitions. Some examples are:
- Your key employees
- Your major client relationships
- Your unique value proposition and proprietary processes
How do you isolate and protect what has made you successful and make sure that these things will continue to serve you well into the future, while you are simultaneously working your way through these tough times?
Focus your attention on preserving the key assets you have identified, and be prepared to adjust how you manage those assets to better reflect how they are being impacted by the current environment. Start by:
- Talking to key employees to understand their unique challenges and concerns and make arrangements to accommodate this
- Adjusting your financial or operational arrangements with major clients in order to better align with their concerns and keep them close to you
- Looking for ways to provide increased value and opportunity to both employees and clients as a means of building even stronger relationships for the future
How do you reinvent and communicate the rebirth of your business while making sure that you embrace your employees’ and clients’ vested interests into your thinking?
You may not have a clear idea of what your INC 2.0 version company looks like, which is fine. Meaningful change is a journey not a destination. Its path will be more of an exploration than a straight line. It will only come about by understanding and incorporating your employees’ and clients’ evolving needs into your planning. Including this ambiguity in your planning requires a structured approach:
- Hold regular one-one-one meetings with employees to support their evolution and jointly identify new opportunities
- Establish ongoing communication with clients that reinforces your relationship and sets guidelines for how that relationship will adapt to future changes
- Hold key employee conference calls to review client success stories – share experiences and brainstorm ideas
Where to from here?
The turmoil that has gripped the world has changed your role as a business owner. Whatever your plan was previous to this seismic disruption, it must be clearly different now. Your job is to Identify, Nurture and Communicate the Change that will enable you to emerge from these turbulent times and create a Plan “B” that will define the next iteration of your business.
* Dwight D. Eisenhower
About John Hotson:
John Hotson is a speaker, entrepreneur, writer and senior business advisor. John is a founding partner of the Business Transition Alliance and works hands-on with business owners to help them develop and implement effective strategies that increase the value and profitability of their business as they prepare to exit.