William Shakespeare famously said: ‘All the world’s a stage.’ So, with it being the panto season, we at BGI have selected a number of traditional panto characters and would like to ask you the following question: Which one of these best sum’s up your year? We’ll try not to use naff innuendos or corny jokes, and with lockdown still very much alive, it means there won’t be any crude remarks being shouted by the non-existent audience. So here we go:
You do all the hard work but get none of the credit. Sounds familiar? There are thousands of businesses which could audition for the role of Cinders in 2020. It’s been an incredibly hard year at the coal face for most of us, especially SMEs. And, like Cinders, you’re probably asking yourself – what have I done to deserve this? Many have found their Prince Charming in the shape of Rishi Sunak. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s furloughing scheme, and other financial packages, failed to reach everyone, with many individuals falling through the gap. For this ‘abandoned’ group, they probably feel Prince Charming will not be visiting their doors anytime soon, and that the outlook remains very ugly for the foreseeable future. Although Cinderella’s story starts off badly, she triumphs in the end. She never gives up, never stops working, and when the opportunity (glass slipper) finally arrives, she grabs it with both hands. The message is: Remain as positive as you can.
Has your performance this year earned you any cheers – or perhaps a few less than complementary boos? You may feel bitter and angry right now. You may exude jealousy, and possibly have justified reasons for feeling this way. You may have performed in a way you don’t feel particularly proud of. But just because the hand you have been dealt is a bad one, that’s still no excuse for bad behaviour. If you sincerely believe your business belongs under the headline ‘Ugly Sister,’ then it may be time for a complete root-and-branch overhaul. Many businesses have behaved poorly during 2020, and this is because they are under an enormous amount of pressure – the sort of pressure probably not experienced for more than a generation. To make ends meet they may have taken money that was not intended for them, or have treated their customers or clients badly. In other words, behaved completely out of character – and have resorted to becoming the Ugly Sister. They may have even treated their own employees shabbily. It’s certainly not a good place to be and with 2021 already here, there’s no better time to restructure your business model. The spotlight is on owners and bosses, so it could be time for a role change!
You’re the business with the eye-catching uniform, sunny smile, and head-turning good looks. But there’s still something missing. Perhaps it’s that one person who will make your life and company complete? Therefore, think outside the box a little more. Consider a joint venture or a partnership. It’s tough to scale up your business on your own, if not virtually impossible. We all need some outside help from time to time. Take a good look around and discover if there’s another business in your sphere which may compliment yours – and vice-versa. Find one that will assist you to swell your customer base. Big decisions such as these will excite your team, employees, investors, and also existing and regular clients or customers. It should energise you too. It costs nothing to talk and you may just find the ideal foot to occupy that glass slipper – which is currently empty.
It can sometimes be difficult to identify what needs to be done to change the course of history but you are fully aware that ‘doing nothing is not an option.’ This was the situation facing Cinderella’s dad, the Baron. He was a good person, who found himself in a challenging situation. The same can happen in business. So, what can be done to help you make the right decision? Look in the mirror and ask that person staring back at you ‘What do you really want from business and life?’ Be 100% honest with yourself and only then will you stand a chance of finding a happy ending.
Many businesses have two reasons for ‘being alive’. First, they want to succeed, and second they want the world around them to benefit from their existence. This festive period is always a good time to take stock of things and ask yourself these questions: ‘Why am I doing this?’ and ‘What do I want my legacy to be?’ Making money and doing good for society can go hand-in-hand. One high profile example of this is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He is just one of many entrepreneurs who have followed this path. There are no magic wands, but it’s not impossible to give your customers what they want while, at the same time, keeping investors happy, and creating a better environment for all.
The panto mouse
The pandemic has been incredibly tough, with many businesses deciding to sit tight, while waiting for it all to end, so they can start trading again. Although this is certainly an option, it’s not a particularly good one. The businesses which have performed best during 2020 are those that have remained pro-active. They’ve been creative, and have found new ways to attract customers. They have adopted new ways of working – where possible. Some sectors, such as hospitality, travel and tourism, have endured a torrid time. Yet to hide away in a mouse hole solves nothing. Review your business model and continue dialogue with staff, as well as customers. Seek new opportunities and prepare for when markets will once again pick up. Don’t run away and hide like a mouse.
Unfortunately, unlike panto, this year hasn’t been very funny. It’s been difficult for so many people – business owners and staff members alike, not forgetting investors. But we at BGI Strategy believe that with the correct approach, and a good team, you will one day look back at 2020 and tell everyone you meet: ‘It’s behind you.”
This feature was brought to you courtesy of the team at BGI Strategy who provide valuable business insights and strategy to help businesses survive and thrive at challenging times. Why not check us out.