12 Jul 2021

With change comes opportunity: Take now as the moment to rethink and regrow your business

Future Opportunities MHA11

Never before have we experienced a business environment such as this. The trends we have deliberated over for years – remote working, increasing reliance on e-commerce, digital transformation – all suddenly became the ‘new normal’. Now as we emerge from the pandemic, we are blessed with the freedom to choose our own paths once more.

But with great choice comes great responsibility, and there are difficult decisions ahead for our businesses. Though there is still a great deal of uncertainty, certain factors can and should influence your decision making, enabling all of us to move forwards, onwards and upwards.

Financial forecasting
For some businesses cashflow management will be old-hat, but for others this might be a completely new necessity. As Government support comes to an end and we enter into loan repayment periods, all businesses will need to carefully consider how they will manage incoming and outgoing payments.

Alternatively, we know that many organisations have fared well over the past 18 months and may be in a position to acquire another business. Making any large investment in the current business climate could make stakeholders a little nervous, but in reality the level of risk is relatively the same as it was pre-pandemic. The chief question to consider is this: if I make this investment, when will it pay off? And, can I manage the finances in the meantime?

People power
In March 2021, 60 per cent of the UK were working still from home, with three quarters indicating a preference for a hybrid working environment.

There are big questions to be answered: how to increase productivity? How to keep employees engaged? How to ensure a level playing field? But there are also financial implications, such as home working expenses and new tax rules for remote employees.

Though I suspect the answers to the former questions will be realised through a bit of trial and error, the details can be dealt with in practical steps. Manage the definitive where you can, and be honest with employees about the questions you don’t yet have all the answers too.

The other big change to the world of work is the end of the government’s Job Retention Scheme (furlough). 11.5 million jobs have been supported by the furlough scheme since March 2020, and it is expected that the end of furlough could trigger 270,000 job losses.

This will impact both your cashflow and your culture. If you’re keeping staff on, you’ll need to find a way to pay for their wages without Government support, and if you’re making redundancies you’ll need to consider the impact this will have on the remainder of your employees.

Recruitment and retainment
In May, the demand for workers rose at its fastest rate for more than 23 years, yet there are not enough workers to fill the vacancies. Though the end of furlough may mean more people are looking for work, this will not alter existing skill shortages. Companies are becoming increasingly reliant on recruiters to help them find the right talent.

This means two things for your business: it could be difficult for you to find the right talent and once you find them, you’ll have to stay competitive to keep them. Take into account your entire employee value proposition, from salary to career progression, learning and development opportunities, perks and benefits.

Remember, decisions are rarely irreversible
Though there is definitely a shared desire for certainty in the current climate, business leaders should remember that they can almost always change course. Our renewed freedom to choose can be overwhelming, but there are huge opportunities ahead.

Don’t delay decisions because you perceive it to be too risky; decide what to do based on the information you have now. If that information changes in the future, it may mean ‘final decisions’ are changed or reversed. The good news is that if you’re still in business after the year we’ve all faced, you’ve already proven you can make tough decisions as situations change.

Change is something humans are rarely comfortable with, but with change comes opportunity. Over the next few months our team at MHA Monahans will be offering their best advice for business owners in our series of articles here. Together we can power future business growth.

Simon Tombs