“For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.”
The Music Makers, Arthur O’Shaughnessy
If O’Shaughnessy’s words apply to “each age”, they certainly apply more than usually to 2020. This year has been full of dreams dying. Perhaps you’ve had to cancel a holiday, or even a wedding. Perhaps a major event you’d been looking forward to fell prey to the lockdown.
Or maybe your business dream has died. Every week, we hear news of another major company shedding jobs, whether they’re high street giants or airlines. They’re only the tip of the iceberg, though. Although the furlough scheme and the various loans and grants have given a breathing space, around half of SMEs consider themselves at risk of going under.
There are two main reasons for this. One, of course, is that they’ve been unable to carry on their business through the lockdown. This could be due to government-imposed restrictions, such as for shops or restaurants, or it could be that demand has disappeared, as with travel companies.
The other reason, though, is a knock-on effect. Even a business that’s suffered no direct restrictions may rely on either suppliers or customers who’ve had to suspend operations. Or maybe customers have been unable to pay, causing a major cashflow problem.
And things are likely to get worse. When the stabilisers come off the bike, which is set to happen this autumn, there are going to be crashes.
Or One That Is Coming to Birth
That’s only half the story, though. Some dreams die and some come to birth, and I’ve spoken to people who’ve been given the impetus to take a decisive new step in business since the lockdown started.
Some have found completely new opportunities. Some have taken the decision to reposition their business and open themselves up to a new sector. And some have found entirely new approaches for their business.
Think of all those restaurants that had to close during the lockdown. No doubt there were owners who simply furloughed themselves and sat waiting with their fingers crossed. Others, though, moved into home delivery or supplying meal kits, and I’ve heard of at least one restaurant that ended up making a bigger profit during lockdown than ever before.
From homeworking to networking online, the lockdown has forced us into new ways of approaching what we’ve always done. And make no mistake, these aren’t temporary measures. Some restrictions are likely to stay for a long time to come, while other changes were already long overdue.
A new world is forming around us, but you need to be ready to take advantage of it. And that means, among other things, having your systems polished and ready for communicating what you’re doing differently — because it’s the businesses that are ready for the new world that will thrive in it.
Would you rather be living in a dream that’s dying, or a dream that’s coming to birth? It’s your choice. Drop me a line to see how I can help.