Planning Post-Pandemic: Survival Tips for Business Owners

Since March of 2020, everyone is looking at business in a new light. During the pandemic, many entrepreneurs learned their former success strategies no longer applied, and business owners with haphazard budgets and financial plans had to face some tough realities. Twenty-twenty was a hard year, but it was also a wakeup call for many to get a handle on the way they run their companies.

Since then, business owners have learned (in difficult but very effective ways) to be flexible, make clear and intentional plans, and establish safeguards. And if you take these lessons into the new year and beyond, you can set yourself up for a less stressful, more satisfying, more profitable life as a business owner—pandemic or not.

Here are some tips to help you prepare your business for a successful new year.

Be Flexible

Stay-at-home orders taught us that successful businesses meet demand, no matter how much adjusting it takes. As your business grows and your environment changes, pay attention—how can you better serve your customers? What do they need; what can they get better somewhere else? Are there inefficiencies in your business that are holding you back from growth? Then adjust your offerings accordingly.

It’s also important to be proactive and look for secondary revenue streams. After all, you never know when your primary one might face a setback. Take a chiropractor’s office, for example—during the pandemic, chiropractors couldn’t see patients in person to make adjustments. But many in this industry adjusted their practice to include other wellness offerings like nutritional guidance and supplements. When you diversify your revenue, you provide a safeguard for your business during volatile times.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

This is one of the most important lessons any business owner can learn. Too many people get caught in the urgent, day-to-day tasks and fail to think about the big picture. They’re bogged down in details like payroll and they neglect the long-term goals of their company. But when you delegate tasks, you empower yourself to focus on the things that only you can accomplish with excellence.

Several years ago, I was a guest on a podcast, and one of the listeners (a property and casualty insurance agent) called me to ask for advice. He was trying to reach a record goal by the end of the year. He had a small company with no staff, and he was thinking about retiring soon. My first question to him was, “Why don’t you have an assistant?” I explained to him that his time was best spent focusing on the few things only he could do well and hiring someone else to take care of the rest. He followed my advice and later told me he hit a goal he had never reached in his 30-plus years in the business. After that, he decided not to retire (“Why would I want to? I get to do the things I love!”) and other agents in the company started asking for his advice.

Too many business owners look at employees as an expense, but they’re an investment. Hire capable people and delegate as much as you can—when you do, you free yourself to focus on more important things that fuel business growth.

Empower Employees

Not only should you delegate the less complicated and time-consuming tasks to employees, but you should empower your top people to help you manage and develop the business. After all, if all the important tasks and projects rest on your shoulders, what happens to the business if something happens to you? When your business relies too heavily on you, it puts too much risk on your personal finances, the business, and your employees.

The key is to hire driven, capable people and let them do their thing. More than that, you have to treat them like the rock stars they are—that means paying them well and putting them in charge of projects and departments. It means investing in them, whether that’s through educational opportunities, profit shares, or personal development. Because if they’re bored or can’t pay their own bills, they’ll find someone who will give them a job they deserve—and you’ll have to start the hiring and training process all over again.

If you want your business to flourish while you focus on the things you love, hire great people, pay them well, treat them well, and put them in charge of things.

Create Contingency Plans

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that not everything in life goes according to plan. That’s why it’s important to have safeguards and contingency plans that protect your business. When you have valuable people sustaining the growth of your company, you need a plan that keeps the business running smoothly in case you unexpectedly lose one of those key players. Talk to a financial professional about a key employee protection plan—not only do certain policies help you attract and retain your top talent, but they’ll help you keep the business running if you lose a key player.

The same goes for you—establishing a succession plan helps protect your family and the business should you unexpectedly pass away, but it can also outline your goals and desires should you decide to sell the business or retire. The key is to make sure no one in the business is completely indispensable—because, again, that creates too much risk for everyone involved.

Have an Ample Emergency Fund

Lots of business owners get caught in the “pay as you go” trap and fail to keep a surplus of cash on hand. But just like your personal finances, your business should have an emergency fund—preferably with three to six months of expenses saved. If you have strongly diversified revenue streams, an ample emergency fund isn’t vital, but it’s still a wise safeguard to put in place.

Keep Moving Forward

Depending on your industry, certain strategies will be more important than others to help you protect and grow your business. But in general, these principles should help you build a strong foundation that weathers financial storms and keeps you moving forward.

If you’d like more guidance or need help with the details of your business plan, we’d love to help! You can schedule a consultation by clicking the red button below.