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It’s vital that business leaders cease their ‘firefighting’ for survival and prepare to refocus their business for the reopening of the UK economy

The UK Government’s recent announcement of a ‘roadmap’ which sets out the country’s return to some form of ‘normality’, will have given business leaders across the Liverpool City Region a glimmer of hope. Having endured 12 months of fighting for their business’ very survival, many will be cautiously optimistic that we’re moving into the end game of our struggle with the global pandemic.

However, as we edge slowly out of lockdown restrictions, business leaders across the region must start to realign their mindset and mentality away from the tactical ‘firefighting’ of the last year and once again start to embrace one which is geared towards identifying growth opportunities in a dramatically altered global economy.

Green Shoots

What’s heartening is that there are already some signs of so-called ‘green shoots’. In a recent survey conducted by BDO among North West businesses, it found that 60% of business leaders said that now was the time to start investing in their business again. In addition, a further 87% said that they were likely to consider increasing exports as a result of greater certainty returning to the UK’s relationship with the EU as a result of their new trade agreement.

Clearly confidence is returning to the business community, but it’s imperative leaders build on this optimistic outlook in the coming months and beyond.

A refocus on stability and growth

The pandemic has served as the ultimate stress test of businesses of all sizes and sectors – no business has been immune. That’s why now is an opportune time to take stock of weaknesses within your business and seek to strengthen them.

For instance, technology has been a lifeline for many businesses over the course of the last year. However, the results of BDO’s recent research show that only 27% of businesses are looking to invest in new technology to increase business efficiency. Given that technology looks likely to be the key enabler of business and commerce for decades to come, business decision makers need to carefully think about digital transformation projects or potentially get left behind.

Rebuilding with a shared vision

Fundamental to getting back to a more strategic mindset is ensuring that key decision makers within your business are on the same page when it comes to your vision for the future. As a result, leaders need to take the initiative to not only revive strategic thinking across their business, but work with senior members of their team to ensure everyone is aligned to the same goals.

Scheduling more regular senior team or board meetings can give you and your colleagues the opportunity to collaborate and build out what the next year to 18 months looks like and set some key KPIs to be met within the different divisions of the business. The main purpose of these meetings will be to regroup after a turbulent year and ensure all senior decision makers are pulling in the same direction towards growth and success.

Creating the space to be healthy and strategic

Business leaders are the key cog in the orchestration of a business’ multi-layered operations. As a result, it’s no surprise that back in June 2020 nearly half (48%) of UK SME business owners said that the pandemic had had a negative impact on their mental health, with a further 49% saying that they had even less time to spend on ensuring their business could grow1.

However, as lockdown restriction gradually ease, business leaders need to actively set time aside to get planning for the next 12-18 months. The ability to step back from operations and assess things with a telescope rather than a microscope will be vital in the coming months as the UK hopefully returns to something resembling normality.

Be warned, returning to a strategic role within the business will be hard for many decision makers, and will take a concerted effort on their part to carve out ‘thinking time’. Hitting the ground running with a good idea of where they’re heading via an actionable business plan will certainly put businesses in a stronger position in the post-Pandemic era.

Tapping into the benefits of an external perspective on your business’ future

Growth Platform’s Business Resilience Programme, is a great starting point for those business leaders who want to get back onto a more strategic footing. For only a few hours of your time you’ll be given the support and guidance you need to think about the growth opportunities of the future.

To find out how you can build resilience in your business at a time of unprecedented change, download our FREE Road to Resilience report here.

Laura Stuffins, BDO Director and Head of Rethink North West