Image: Small Business
By ANDY YATES FOR THISISMONEY.CO.UK
Andy Yates is a successful serial entrepreneur and helps and supports a portfolio of growth companies. He is a regular contributor to This is Money and teamed up with us to run the Great British Entrepreneur Challenge.
He shares his tips for small businesses to adapt, innovate and come through the coronavirus crisis – and what some of the firms he is working with are doing.
Let’s make no bones about it. Most British business are on their knees. Entrepreneurs are normally an optimistic bunch – which is after all what drives so many of them to be entrepreneurs in the first place.
But the coronavirus crisis, and the inevitable hammer blow to the economy, has dented the glass half full attitude for even the most hardy of business owners.
I support a number of great growth businesses and entrepreneurs, and have seen the whole range of emotions and acute pain this crisis has caused for them.
It has been heart breaking to see loyal and hard-working staff losing their jobs through no fault of their own.
To see successful businesses they have worked on for so many years have their very survival threatened overnight. But now, after the initial shock and awe, the fight back has begun.
Across the UK entrepreneurs are looking at ways to bounce back in face of unparalled adversity.
So what personal lessons and tips have I learned first-hand from the companies I help that could also help the UK’s proud army of entrepreneurs?
Pivot quickly – change your products and services to meet the new normal
The economy and consumer behaviour is likely to be impacted for some time. But change can bring opportunity – if you act quickly. One of the businesses I help, Wildgoose, is doing just that. It is a well established team building company that uses interactive apps and technology to get colleagues together.
Last year it ran thousands of events and saw strong growth in its US business and global network of licensees that use its technology to run events right around the world. It was a British success story, exporting market leading services around the world.
In March, its business ground to a halt overnight as the world went into lockdown. But after almost two decades of inspiring and motivating teams as work, Wildgoose turned its business model on its head in two days.
It created a range of virtual experiences to keep colleagues connected, motivated and inspired – all without leaving the comfort and safety of home. The virtual work social, the virtual away day, daily challenges and energisers, the weekly kick off – remote team building was born.
Quick thinking and decisive action has enabled Wildgoose to build a new business pipeline of over £150,000 in new business in weeks and it has run virtual events for hundreds of people at a time.
Based on this success it is now planning to create a suite of online staff engagement tools that any business can use to help connect teams and colleagues.
Survival tip: Adapting quickly in difficult times will be the key to getting out of this crisis for so many businesses.
Get resourceful – use what you have in new ways
Oomph Wellness specialises in improving the quality of life for older adults by providing award winning activities in care homes and a fleet of mini-buses providing out and about trips to give unforgettable experiences to residents.
You can just imagine how hard the business has been hit by coronavirus, given the devastating impact it has had on the care sector. Faced with this perfect storm, Oomph has come up with some innovative ways to try and weather the dark clouds.
It has transformed its business to provide virtual activities for residents and remote training and support for fantastic care home staff. It has also offered its mini-buses to help get vital key workers across care homes and the NHS where they need to be.
Oomph faces a tough battle ahead, but it is doing everything it can to keep helping care home residents and staff.
Survival tip: By using key resources in different ways, businesses can give themselves a chance of turning a major negative into a big positive.
Create new products to meet new demand
If you can identify the growth opportunities the new economy brings, you can develop new products, services and business models to meet new needs.
Let’s take New Wave Learning as an example. The business already provided innovative online learning and development programmes for major corporates through an interactive mobile app combined with face to face sessions to make learning count.+3
Faced with the lockdown, it quickly adapted its product successfully to work 100 per cent virtually, with bite sized learning hosted by experts – but still with human interaction, learning and collaboration at its core. In doing so it stole a march on competitors who were scrambling to just replicate traditional classroom learning online.
New Wave Learning also moved quickly to develop new learning products to help leaders and managers get through this crisis, and beyond, with their teams – communicating change, keeping up morale, energising staff and helping with mental health issues in difficult times for all of us. The result is some major client wins including a global law firm and insurance giant.
Survival tip: With the world of work likely to change for the foreseeable future, businesses that help companies through this transformation can grasp new opportunities.
These are just a few of the businesses challenges and solutions I am living and breathing every day at the moment. I am backing Britain’s entrepreneurs to fight back.
I believe if businesses can adapt and change quickly, not only can they live to fight another day, they can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before.
Original Article: Daily Mail