Building on success.

What materials will you need for future growth?

I’ve spoken and written a great deal over recent months on how to make it through the challenges of lockdown; whether that’s cash squeezes in supply chains, evaporating business, or entire markets going on hold. I’ve written in multiple places about using extreme scenarios, developing strategic agility, building relationships, radical innovation, finding the silver linings in downsizing and so forth.

But those challenges are only one side of the story.

Many of my contacts and clients are still facing potentially crippling uncertainties around when and in what shape their markets may recover. But some, through a combination of smart “pivots” and pure luck with their own exposure to lockdown, have found ways to grow significantly through the last quarter.

Their challenges now are quite different, but in the long run, no less existential.

Pivoting in a business context, means a rapid, almost instant change in direction or focus. And many of those business who’ve successfully pivoted and diversified into different models and markets, now find themselves looking at a dizzying portfolio of new products, services and channels, some of which don’t have a sustainable future, but some may, and some definitely will.

The questions with which they’re now wrestling, are threefold. If and when customers and consumers start reverting, en-masse, to their pre-pandemic behaviour:

  • How do we lock that new customer growth in, and how do we keep it growing?
  • How do we bring this new portfolio together so it’s efficient, productive, and makes sense for us to maintain?
  • How do we bring the old and new models and channels together, so it makes sense for customers in the future?

It’s easy to assume that businesses who’ve found successes through the lockdown can simply be thankful, and press the accelerator on growth, but they still face just as much uncertainty about future consumer behaviour, and many have a new set of risks around their newly diversified and fragmented portfolios.

Now is the time for them to start thinking about the “big bets” I touched on in the last article. To look at those future scenarios and plan how they could start re-investing, to lock in that new custom while creating the capacity to cope with more, in the areas that represent the greatest and most sustainable opportunities over the next 18 months.

It’s inevitable that there will be a lot more talent and outside expertise coming into the jobs market over the next six months. But that creates challenges of its own, from training and induction to culture and expectations. There will also be big capacity constraints in technology and M&A integration as new waves of activity sweep across industries.

Whenever the construction industry goes through its decennial boom-and-bust cycle, there are suppliers and importers who have to make bets – running down stocks in advance and ramping them back up at the right time. No building supplier can afford to run out of bricks just as the market starts taking off again.

The same will be true for your business. What are the building blocks of your future success, and how will you start securing your supply of them now, before they get snapped up by everyone else?