Four months ago, we thought the biggest 2020 business challenges would be automation, cybersecurity, and global workforces.
Today, COVID-19 has transformed the world as we know it, and it’s not over yet. While it’s difficult to predict what the long-term business impacts of the pandemic will be, there are five challenges that businesses are now facing this year.
Is your business prepared? Let’s find out.
5 Business challenges of 2020
Uncertainty is ranked as the biggest challenge for businesses in 2020. No one knows when the pandemic will end, what the consequences will be, or whether the virus will return with a vengeance later this year.
Businesses must learn to survive and thrive in uncertain times, using the following methods:
Forget about your long-term 2020 goals, now is the time for short-term projects. Short-term goals allow you to create projects that are achievable in the current environment. This allows you to make business progress while keeping your employees motivated by realistic targets.
Business continuity plans
Amend your catch-all business continuity plan into several phases that take your business from complete lock-down back to business as usual. This should encompass phased returns from everything that has changed as a result of the pandemic, including operational hours, employee locations, and long-term business goals.
Regular communication is crucial during uncertain times, especially if you’ve been running a remote workforce. Keep your employees and customers informed about how your business is operating in the current environment, what it plans to do in the future, and how it’s going to overcome any curveballs.
2. Supply chains
The supply of parts, products, and packaging has been disrupted all over the world. A significant challenge for businesses this year will be resuming regular service when supply chains haven’t, or won’t, return to normal.
The best practices that businesses can adopt to help are:
Communicating with suppliers
Knowing when, or if, your supplier will resume normal output is critical, especially if the re-opening of your business relies upon them.
Maintain open and honest communication with your suppliers to establish their current and future output levels and to identify any potential problems early on. Don’t forget to ask if there’s anything that you can do to ease the pressure, such as giving longer lead times or temporarily consolidating product lines.
Diversify your supply chain
The coronavirus pandemic has taught us the importance of diversifying your supply chain to ensure that the lock-down of one country doesn’t halt your supply of products, parts, or services completely.
If you haven’t already done so, reduce the risk and consequences of a broken supply chain by partnering with suppliers and manufacturers in different countries. If this is not possible, look for suppliers in different regions of the same country – it can make all the difference when a factory ceases production or takes longer to return to normality than others.
Increase your lead times
While it’s difficult to plan for the future right now, increasing your lead times will ensure that you can return to and maintain standard service as soon as possible – even if supply chains suffer repeat effects later this year.
Consumer and commercial behavior has changed during the pandemic, with people spending more money on essential items and services, and less money on non-essentials. A big challenge for businesses is knowing when and if buying behavior will return to normal.
To overcome this challenge, there are some market research tactics you can use to predict customer and client demand in 2020.
Conduct trend research
Use tools such as Google Trends and Google Analytics to analyze current interest in your products and services, and growing interest in other products and services. You can also use these tools to analyze consumer trends following previous pandemics and predict buyer behavior over the next 12 months.
Play to your strengths
If a certain product or service of yours isn’t performing well, use your expertise and brand positioning to expand your services or product lines to those that better suit the current consumer environment.
For example, if print advertising has declined, can you use your design skills to create social media advertisements that enable your customers to continue advertising?
Communicate with customers
The best people to ask about current and future demand are your customers, especially since they have some extra time on their hands. Use social media, surveys, and email campaigns to engage with your customers, understand their current pain points, and establish what you can do to help them now and in the future.
After the pandemic is over, you’re going to have a very different workforce walking back into the office; one that has lost loved ones, been starved of social interaction, and has experienced intense anxiety.
To help your employees return to normal, just like your business, it’s important to consider the following:
Offer employees a variety of support to help them cope with the aftereffects of the pandemic. This could include mental support, financial support, or simply some social events to look forward to.
If you worked differently during the lock-down period, analyze what worked well and take the time to recognize and praise your employees for their hard work. You can also go one step further and reward employees with appropriate perks. For example, if remote working was a hit, can you implement it permanently?
Communicate with employees
Another shout out for communication. Reassuring your employees about their jobs, the business, and future plans can help to reignite their engagement and boost their performance.
A significant but overlooked challenge ahead is securing new talent. People will return from the pandemic yearning for safety and security. Accordingly, there will be fewer people looking to move jobs this year.
To increase your chances of securing new talent after the pandemic, you should:
Re-assess your benefits and rewards
With safety and security becoming a higher priority for everyone, your benefits and rewards need reviewing. Talent will be less motivated by salaries and more motivated by benefits such as generous pension contributions, health care, and long-term career advancement.
Widen your talent pools
If remote work proved a resounding success for your business, you can widen your talent pool by allowing telecommuting. This enables you to tap into talent from different cities, states, or even countries, without needing to persuade someone to relocate.
Re-consider your needs
The coronavirus pandemic should have uncovered the essential business skills your business needs to survive, and those that can be learned on the job. Use this information to tailor your skill requirements and open up your candidate criteria.
These are just a selection of challenges facing businesses this year. As everyone races to get back to normal, new and different challenges will undoubtedly arise. However, while 2020 hasn’t gone according to plan, overcoming these challenges should help you emerge from the year bigger, stronger, and more resilient than ever before.