Why future planning and being adaptable is key for contractors
As the nation starts to find its feet and settle into the new normal – whatever that might turn out to be – there is one certain thing. Change is here to stay. I love the depth of contradiction that hides behind the phrase ‘the new normal’ because it challenges everything. Normal, by definition, means the accepted way that things are. To suggest that there is a new way of doing what is normal doesn’t really make sense.
What it does tell us, however, is that you will have to be adaptable to survive in the future.
Planning is the key to stability
The Coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown have taught contractors and other small businesses many things. But the biggest lesson is surely that having an adaptable plan is the only way to maintain any level of stability. Of course, no one could have predicted the situation and quite how it panned out. In fact, most people are still having those moments where we sit back and say: is this really happening? No one’s business plan for 2020 included a section titled: What to do if a global pandemic strikes!
But I can guarantee that those contractors who had a plan fared better in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown announcement than those who didn’t. As the decisions about furlough (did you have to google it to find out what it meant?), loans and support packages rolled out – most contractors were waiting for news of how they would be affected. For some, every ounce of their attention was hanging out for the offer of a lifeline. Others kept one ear on the news while the majority of their attention was firmly fixed upon the more comforting and factual document called – THE PLAN.
You see, the key thing about having a plan is that it tells you exactly where you are today. And, maybe the goalposts and destination for tomorrow might need to change – but the starting point doesn’t. Without a plan, you are lost at sea and don’t even know where to start.
From stability to adaptability
When you know where you are, it is far easier to scan and evaluate the horizon then plot a new course. You may still face the same obstructions and difficulties as others who stand close by – but you can make smarter decisions about what to do next and how it will determine your future. For example, many contractors and small businesses will have simply applied for loans to tide them over or taken a furlough option because it seemed like money for nothing. But the truth is that a financial forecast might have indicated a better path.
There were other options than taking on unnecessary debt or settling for a reduced income. A strategic plan would have told you the exact date that you could survive to; or identified the minimum amount on the best terms that you needed to borrow. It would have shown you the clear pros and cons of furloughing or indicated the deal you needed to strike with your current customer to keep your contract operational. There are so many fact-based variations that you could have investigated before taking a blind decision.
Those contractors with a plan will survive this. And they will be the ones who not only adapt to the new normal; they will be able to create a version of normal that works to their advantage.