These days, regular media fills our screens and minds with the negative impact of the Pandemic and how everything has a butterfly effect – rarely focusing on the positive changes. And yes, there are positive changes all around. One significantly positive impact that I see is that most businesses and economies, are not thinking of shutting down but instead of adapting. The disclaimer I make is that, there are indeed plenty of entrepreneurs and businesses which are shutting down, but my rationale is that in all probability these business were likely on the fence of survival anyway and the Pandemic simply pushed them over to one side. That being said, I see five key trends emerging out of this crisis that are common across corporates and households.
Continuity and Sustainability – Having the Difficult Conversations
There is likely to be a greater focus on corporate governance, sustainability, and business continuity planning. While larger organization have this in place, even smaller organization, independent set-ups, and start-ups, are likely to invest more into these aspects. On individual levels, this means thinking through wills, planning for our children, more detail out financial obligations and receivables, make clear documents for bank accounts, etc. Have those difficult conversations. Never has the need for having system in place for the longer term been more pronounced – the probabilities and realities have all now been changed for the foreseeable future.
Financial Planning For “Working Capital” or “Regular Obligations”
Across the board we are likely to see more prudent contingency planning in a financial sense. Managing working capital effectively and keeping a basic buffer is now a clear necessity that cannot be compromised on. This is a familiar and simple math exercise of how much you spend versus how much you earn and adjust for any money people owe you and money you owe people. Ideally, have a buffer in place, even in households. If not, aim to simply create that buffer out of small savings.
Focus on Savings and Prudence
That brings me to the third trend I see; greater focus on savings. Over decades of consumerism, the concept of spending what or more than you earn, is sort of the norm. Companies sometimes tend to ignore long term implications of adding to liabilities – they do this by taking loans, having higher levels of current liabilities. Households do the same by using credit cards and taking personal loans. However, this pause button us likely to make more people and companies focus on the need to be more prudent. To spend what is “disposable” not necessarily what is “available” – easy loans, credit facilities etc are easily available but not disposable since they have obligations linked to them. Now is the time to understand and internalise this mindset.
Businesses and Products that “bridge the gap”
Fourth, more businesses that focus on bridging the increasing social and economic divide. Simple things like online education, work from home etc. will widen the chasm because of access in a real sense and the actual support systems available. For years, the pareto principle of focussing on 20% that contribute to 80% of income has governed decisions. To my mind, this could change or alter since this will be more fluid and there could be more money in the middle ground – so volume-based businesses. These could be in technology as well. The idea is that business that bridge the gaps are the way forward – because the gaps are now clearer.
New Consumption Patterns
Finally, a change in what we as consumers consume. This forced reset is likely to change the products we use, how we use them and how much we use them. It is going to change the way we engage with society, with travel, with our work environments and with our employees. “Business as usual” and “new normal” are small phrases for a change in mindsets of individuals and the companies that they engage with.
That is the thing about large events, they bring about a new order, they force hard decisions, and the resilient, know they must find a way to survive. That is what I mean – I am seeing that businesses and people are mostly looking forward. For now, planning and trying to utilise this time to re-invent, adapt and hopefully find a stronger foundation, is the only road to survival.
This article was originally published in Bahrain This Month's August 2020 issue.