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Navigating business change in unprecedented times

06th April 2020, 09:04
People & skills
Sales & marketing

This post was written by Richard Gray, a Business Growth Coach and Director at Canoe, offering business coaching that achieves real results. Richard is also a Business Coach with Start and Grow Enterprise, a fully-funded programme for new and early stage Gloucestershire businesses. 


With the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic being felt across the globe, most business owners find themselves trying to make sense of it all, against a background of unprecedented change.

So, as a business owner, how do you navigate this change in a way that gives you the best possible chance of success in the future?

As a business coach, my work is around helping businesses grow, and to do that strategic planning is essential.

In times of change like this, planning isn’t just helpful, it’s critical. So, where do you start?

Use a planning framework

A useful framework to start using is our NOW, WHERE and HOW process.

So often in times of crisis, it’s easy for us to think about where we are in the present moment, and with this information, put our heads down and work really hard to develop a workable plan without really taking the time to make sure all our activity is joined up, relevant and likely to lead to success. Let’s take a look at how you can use this framework to help you navigate business change.

Firstly, what is your HOW?

By taking a little time to determine your true current situation (key burning issues, problems, immediate dangers) – what we call your “NOW”, and thinking carefully about “WHERE” you need to be in the future to guarantee the best possible outcome (even if it’s a short time period like the next 90 days), you’ll be in a better position to see the steps you need to take to make it happen – this is your “HOW”.

In times like these many businesses adapt rapidly and spot opportunities that potentially didn’t exist previously. Your business will probably be no different and with some awareness and adaptation, could find similar opportunity, but sometimes it can hard to find. But if it is there, you need to find it.

Next, what is your NOW?

The “NOW” element of this process can take into account all aspects of your business but will give you a great snapshot of exactly what’s going on and will highlight key issues in your business that will need addressing quickly.

Elements you might consider are current cashflow, products and services, customers, suppliers – in essence as many of the ‘working parts’ of your business as possible.

Finally, what is your WHERE?

The “WHERE” will give you a good awareness of what the business will need to look like to be successful in the future.

This will include elements already considered in the “NOW” analysis as well as other elements you might have always wanted to consider, like diversification in your products and services, potentially new overseas markets, and similar growth opportunities, as examples, but whatever seems relevant.

It will also help you decide exactly what you do next (priorities and key actions) as part of your “HOW” activities. This approach will result in a more effective plan and will ensure you don’t waste time and money unnecessarily, both commodities you can’t afford to waste, especially at this difficult time with COVID-19.

Take action!

Like all great plans, they are a waste of time if not backed up by effective action. For maximum accountability, use a ONE PAGE PLAN to document your plan.

The objective is to collect all of those core objectives into a clear ONE PAGE PLAN to get you through the next 30 days.

Accountability between you and your team around all the planned activity is key in helping you navigate through these coming months, both to execute your plan of action effectively, but also to show your support for each other through this uncertain time – keeping morale high.

Repeat the process

Once you’ve planned the first 30 days, you can repeat this every 30 days, involving the necessary people (potentially employees, customers and suppliers), and be prepared to pivot or modify your plan as you get more insight, information and data around your key issues.

By using the process, you will have a forward-focused approach to your business growth and to making it through these challenging times, greatly increasing your chances of success in the future.

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