I wrote a blog in January about Perfection V. Excellence where I talked about how striving for perfectionism can hold you back from being successful. When I wrote that blog, I was thinking about how this plays itself out in the work environment, stopping you from launching new products, opening up new markets, growing your business, changing to adapt to new opportunities and practices. In other words, holding you back from being successful.
Since writing that blog a lot has changed. For a start we were just beginning to hear about Covid-19 on the news, but we weren’t really worried about it from the safety of the UK. It was 3 days after I published that blog that the UK confirmed its first cases in York and the British government were starting to arrange the evacuation of citizens from Wuhan. It was a further 8 weeks before we as a nation really started to feel the effect of what was ahead of us when Boris Johnson addressed the nation on March 23rd telling us to stay at home except for essential purchases, essential work travel, medical needs, one exercise per day, and providing care for others.
Since then, for many, our outlook and our approach to work and life has changed.
Businesses have had to adapt and make changes, and from this some will flourish, and some will fail. But what determines the category that you will fall under?
Some businesses have been fortunate enough to be ‘in demand’, and none more so than local food producers and distributors. Local to me there has been a real step up in service, something that has been played out across the country.
One of my local farm shops, The Smiddy, said that they very quickly realised that if their customers couldn’t come to them, then they had to go to their customers. Hence the almost immediate launch of a local delivery service. They started small with pre-set food boxes advertised on Facebook, ordered via Messenger or over the phone, to their immediate locale, quickly adding online ordering, then expanding their range, adding click and collect and lastly bringing their café out into the car park as a takeaway service.
They made use of the local community to ensure they were well promoted on social media, asking customers to post a photo of their food delivery to win back the cost. Gained publicity by supplying fruit and veg to the animals at the nearby safari park, and provided safe and distanced space for a national TV programme whose main presenter lived close by.
A good example, and in every community, this is being repeated. These are the businesses I hope will survive and thrive as the chains start to open up again.
Primark have never embraced online shopping like some of their high street competitors. Asked why in 2014, their Head of Finance said, "Look at a £2 T-shirt. Everyone thinks it's clickety-click but one third of clothes get returned. That means someone has to pick it up, someone has to deliver it, someone in the store has to take it back, refold it. It doesn’t work at the lower price point.” But the effect of not being able to open their doors has been staggering. In the month to 21st March they rang up sales amounting to £650m. In the following month their sales tills registered zero as they were forced to close their doors.
Now their argument for not going online was very valid, but what it did was put all their eggs in one basket. They concentrated all their efforts in one place and risked losing everything. We still don’t know what will happen to them, and quite possibly the one thing that will save them was their ability to furlough 68,000 staff across Europe.
Making Your Own Luck
But for many good businesses it’s been a case of bad luck. And the ones that will survive will be those who make their own luck. They will adapt, change their offering, expand what they do, focus on what is right, cut the crap and plan for all eventualities.
In my January blog I wrote,
“Striving for perfectionism stops you from launching new products, opening up new markets, growing your business, changing to adapt to new opportunities and practices. It will hold you back from being successful.
You will waste time on needless activities, miss out on opportunities, lose out to the competition and be behind the curve.”
Don't lose out and be behind the curve, consider everything, no matter how trivial, and know that you will make mistakes, need to adapt and learn, change direction and react to what the customer wants and needs more than ever.
Back in January I wrote another blog, Planning Is Everything, where I quoted Dwight D Eisenhower, "Plans are nothing, but planning is everything." A friend replied to that blog by saying 'always have a plan because you can change a plan, you can't if you haven't'.
Never before has there been a time to spread your risk, try new things, decide quickly if they are working, and most of all to make plans that can be changed and adapted.
Good luck making your own luck, and maybe having a little bit of good fortune too.