Preparing for the New Normal

As businesses prepare to reopen their doors and adjust to new ways of working, the current shift towards a new normal offers the opportunity for growth and innovation across our whole organisations. At AM, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can improve our own services and provide even more value to our customers. 

A crisis of this scale means we all have to adapt and learn to innovate in times of uncertainty. Our approach has to be nimble and dynamic in order to navigate a situation that is fast, fluid and ever-changing. We have to roll with the punches with little to no idea of what lies around the corner. 

But as we tentatively start to ease lockdown, and take steps towards a new kind of normal, we need to keep our eyes on the horizon and focus our efforts on futureproofing our businesses for life post-lockdown.

We all have an opportunity to shift and adapt our brands to the new normal. To take a long, hard look at our organisations, at what’s working, and what’s not, and make the changes that will enable us to come out the other side even stronger. 

So, let’s talk about the ways we can adapt and prepare for this new normal, and how we can innovate our business models and our brands for life post-lockdown. 

Cash Flow

At AM, we can’t overemphasise the importance of managing cash flow, but unfortunately, not enough businesses do it. When our sense of ‘normal’ goes out the window and many businesses are battling simply to survive, cash flow forecasting becomes their lifeline. 

During the current crisis, we’ve been doing a lot more work with our clients to help them forecast for the coming weeks and months. The power of foresight has allowed us to identify any gaps or shortages in their cash, empowering them to make better, more confident decisions going forward. 

And the power of scenario planning really comes into play during a crisis. Software such as Float allows you to estimate the impact of any ‘what if?’ situation and see the effects on your cash flow. 

But cash flow shouldn’t just be left for emergencies. 

50% of small businesses fail in their first 5 years. 

But what if those same businesses took a more proactive approach to managing their cash flow? What if they integrated cash flow into their wider business strategy, doing both short-term ninety-day forecasts and long-term forecasts of up to two years? What if they were able to foresee those cash shortages before they happened, and put plans in place to secure the right funding? 

There’s a good chance those businesses would be alive and well today. 

Make cash flow a vital part of your financial strategy going forward and you’ll be in the other 50% of businesses who thrive, who go on to build innovative and successful organisations. Organisations that can harness the power of foresight to weather any storm, and use accurate data to drive the right decisions.  

Cash flow is like the beating heart of your business. As a powerful decision-making tool, it’s what will see you through this new normal. 

cash flow forecasting

Design & User Research

To adapt to these unpredictable times, brands need to be nimble and agile. The best brands will use this time to re-think what they do and how they do it. They’ll ask, ‘is the current business model working?’ and ‘how can we better meet the needs of our clients?’.

So how could you improve your product or service? 

How could you innovate your business model to work smarter, deliver more value and maximise your revenue? 

Go out and speak to your customers, ask them about your product or service, what their ideal experience would be, and then work with them to deliver that experience. 

This isn’t about making change for the sake of it. It’s about making time for these conversations to ensure you’re providing your customers with the best service possible and the most value. It’s about really getting to know your customers, what their pain points are, what they’re hoping to achieve, and then working with them to build an even better experience. Because when we create amazing experiences, we create happy, fiercely loyal customers who support you through thick and thin, and that’s truly worth its weight in gold. 

Remote Working

The culture of work has shifted massively over the past few weeks, as businesses around the world have shut their doors and pivoted towards remote working. Brands have faced the challenge of making remote working work for them, of leading teams from home, and embedding remote working into their brand. 

As many businesses prepare to open their doors again, others are embracing remote working as the new normal, with no intention of flocking back to office life. Brands are realising the flexibility and cost benefits of remote teams, utilising technology to streamline their workflows and keep their teams engaged. 

But will remote working remain a part of your culture going forward? 

If so, how can you deliver the same level of experience to your clients without having that face-to-face interaction? And if you do make the shift back to office-based working, how will you adapt to the new normal? How can you implement physical distancing measures in your office space? Could you have days where some team members go into the office when others don’t? 

Whichever path you choose, the businesses of tomorrow will build dynamic workspaces embedded in culture and purpose, workspaces that prioritise creating amazing experiences for their customers. 

Brand Strategy

In this ever-shifting pace of change, how will you stay relevant and stand out from the competition? There are more eyes on social media right now than ever before, so it’s more important than ever to invest time in your brand. 

Research shows that people want to support brands that are authentic, honest and value driven.   

Spend the time crafting great content that speaks directly to your dream customers, their aspirations and frustrations. Authentic and value-driven content that allows your purpose and values to shine through. 

Does your website and online content need a bit of a refresh? Does your branding and messaging truly reflect your organisation today and where it’s heading? Brands naturally evolve over time, and often crisis can be a catalyst for change and growth. 

At Ashton McGill, our brand vision has shifted dramatically since the crisis, but it’s still deeply rooted in our core purpose of helping people. Since lockdown, that mission has never felt more important to us. Out of a real desire for change and making a difference to our communities, we’ve started some exciting new projects and initiatives we might not have done otherwise. 

We’ve built an amazing online community on Mobilize around our recent Business Model Innovation Course. A group of dynamic and forward-thinking people who are working together to build better, more purposeful organisations. A group of amazing people who, together, have helped us raise £1500 for the NHS. 

We’ve launched Season 4 of our podcast live on Zoom, catching up with ambitious brands and leaders who have adapted their models, who constantly strive to improve what they do. 

We’ve also launched our Community Fund, an initiative to support the amazing charities and community interest companies doing great work in our area, to help strengthen the communities in which we live and work. 

With crisis, there comes opportunity. Now is the time to better your brand and lead with your purpose to come out the other side stronger. 

Building the brands of tomorrow

We’re passionate about social good, where we put people and the planet first and we believe in a post-Covid world where community, culture and passion will thrive. It’s up to us all to shift and adapt to this new normal in whatever way we can, to use this time to build even better businesses and to use our organisations as a force for good.