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Haines Watts Finchley Phone icon 0207 989 8999

As business owners, we’ve been through some testing times in the last few months. But business must continue and your company can’t sit still. You must begin to prepare for business success.

There’s a very real and pressing need to start reassessing your business model, looking at new ideas and planning for the next chapter in your business success story.

Hassan Behcet explains how his clients have weathered the storm, and the steps they’re taking to prepare for business success.

 

Getting back to the office and human interaction

Lockdown was a strange time for many of us, and we all got used to the new-found positives of remote working. But, in my opinion, we have to return to work and the office.

Pre-lockdown, I used to travel to work on the tube and read many books on the journey, but I now drive in and ideally you can’t read when driving! I’ve been downloading audiobooks for the journey and listening to a lot of psychology books, in particular.

One big takeaway from these books is that humans need interaction. We need human contact, socialisation and a feeling of team spirit to thrive – and we’re not going to get that working on our own in a box room.

The growth of social media platforms has shown how innate it is for us to want to communicate and interact, and if you look back a few generations to the pre-digital age, posting photos in letters and sharing our lives was just as common. That need to interact has always been there, we just do it faster now via technology.

Being in lockdown changed our focus. We increased that need for contact and for human interaction – and being back in our office teams is one way to achieve this.

 

A return to some form of normality

Now that the schools have gone back, parents can return to the office and big corporations can encourage people to go back to work.

A return to normality will be gradual, but there’s nothing to say we can’t go back to the way things were. It will be different, of course, with masks and PPE etc., but we do need to encourage people to come back to the office – and there are a multitude of reasons why.

As workers, parents and people we need to:

  • Turn off our work brains – from a mental perspective, you don’t switch off when you work continually from home. My drive home from work helps me turn off the work brain. In my experience, work and home life can merge if you’re constantly at home.
  • Give structure to our working day – everyone’s routine will be different, but leaving the house to go to an office or workplace gives your day some genuine structure. Constant homeworking often lacks this structure and can affect your state of mind.
  • Have real face-to-face interactions – Zoom and Microsoft Teams are great for video calls when you need them, but they don’t replace sitting down to have a proper meeting. For me, a face-to-face meeting is generally more productive and enjoyable.
  • Socialise with colleagues and clients – just being around a different group of people outside your home/family bubble is invigorating. As people, we need that stimulus of socialising, chatting, swapping information and having those ‘water-cooler moments’

 

Looking to a brighter future

Our norms can, and do, change. For example, in the last six months we’ve all learned not to shake hands anymore. So it feels like there’s an opportunity here, in 2020, to lose some of the bad habits, but to also get back to the positive elements of a working lifestyle.

2020 has been an opportunity to do things in a more efficient way. If you’re the kind of business owner who looks for the silver lining, rather than the black cloud, this could be an amazing chance to review and reimagine the future path of your business.

Reviewing your current status quo will:

  • Reveal which ways of working are productive, and which are less effective
  • Underline how well your financial model is working, and where the cash holes are
  • Show you which members of staff are essential to the business and your operations
  • Show potential employees whether you’re a good company to work for, or not
  • Highlight what kind of business you want to be in the future.

Our way of working, and our way of being, is changing. Money is important but the values of your business and the care you offer your team are also becoming increasingly important to people. So, your business WILL have to evolve and change in the post-pandemic world.

Key areas of change include:

  • A greater focus on cash – owners have refocused and realised that cash is king. They may have relaxed in the good times, but the pandemic has made us realise the importance of good cashflow. The emphasis on cash collection can slip during good times, but if you don’t get paid on time during the bad times, that could make or break the business.
  • Supporting suppliers and customers – your suppliers and customers could be struggling, so paying on time is going to be really important. People have been supportive, but if you don’t pay on time that can affect the relationship and really test it.
  • More emphasis on debtor tracking – credit control and debtor tracking have always been important, but the emphasis on them has ramped up. Some companies have never focused on credit control, but now they’ve realised you need to ask for cash in advance, or look at billing more regularly, to ensure the cash flows.
  • Less reliance on government funding – We’re going to see a move to the extremes when it comes to the end of government funding. It has been a Band-Aid for struggling businesses. For those that shifted when lockdown started, the government funding has been a bonus, not a sticking plaster. Successful businesses might need a tightening of the belt once the government schemes end, but they will survive. Less cash-rich businesses will need to do a lot of hard work to survive without this extra support.

 

Seeking advice

I’m a positive person, so I aim to see the best in all situations. We’re at the bottom now so the only way is up but it will be a difficult journey. Some businesses will thrive in this new world; others won’t fare so well. The difference, in my experience, will be between those companies that sought good advice and those that didn’t.

It’s a team effort to make a business a success. Some owners believe they know everything, and some know enough to get through without that advice, but in this current scenario, knowledgeable advisers are going to be a vital part of your team.

We’re in unknown territory, and you need other people’s views and advice. As an owner, you need someone who understands the business and wants to share your business journey.

We’ll talk to you about:

  • How you generate and collect cash, and where we can improve things
  • Where you may need additional funds, and how we can help you access this finance
  • Your tax planning and whether you’re eligible for incentives like the R&D Tax Credit
  • Running forecasts and projections so you can see what lies ahead
  • Planning your next steps on the road to recovery and success.

 

If you want to work with an adviser who’s truly invested in your business, who can bring an independent and objective viewpoint to the table, please do come and chat to us.

 

Talk to one of our advisers about planning your road to recovery.

Find out how we help you grow your business. Call on 020 7989 8999 or email finchley@hwca.com.

About the author

Hassan Behcet

Hassan has been advising owner managed businesses for the last 20 years on financial management, operational efficiency, and overall strategy.

He specialises in developing start-ups and assisting with growth, advising UK subsidiaries, dealing with complex and group audits and FCA regulated businesses.

 

Surround yourself with assets not liabilities.

If I wasn't doing this I'd be: making hollywood blockbusters.

Favourite Sports Team: the Silver Arrows.

Dream Location: The Batcave.

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