Many businesses will be thrilled that a rapid vaccine programme has encouraged the government to lift coronavirus restrictions in England.
Lockdown and social distancing laws forced many businesses to pivot both their day-to-day operations and marketing at lightning speed. Understandably, numerous businesses struggled, so it is easy to see why many would see the lifting of restrictions as good news.
However, smart companies will recognise that the biggest danger to a company is the unknown and unpredictability. Lockdown life and normal life can be both good and bad for business, depending on how the company handles themselves. Yet, in any industry, uncertainty causes disruption.
Will Easing Of Restrictions Make Life Easier For Scaleups in the UK?
Unfortunately, that’s what restrictions lifting will ultimately be; uncertainty. Unprecedented times are hard for companies and especially scaleups.
The success of startups and scaleups comes from their market research, strategies and projections. Unpredictable times make those estimations far less reliable.
Much like the beginning of the pandemic, the lifting of restrictions brings the unknown:
- Will all restrictions be permanently lifted?
- Will new restrictions start in winter?
- Will your target audience feel safe and confident?
- Will your workforce feel safe and confident?
- Will lifting restrictions cause a massive rise in hospitalisations?
- Will new, more aggressive variants emerge?
These are all valid concerns that could affect businesses as restrictions are rolled back.
The uncertainty will result in many potential challenges for businesses looking to scaleup following the easing of restrictions.
What Challenges Will Scaleups Face With Pandemic Restrictions Easing?
One major problem is that startups that pre-existed the pandemic, and who were looking to scaleup just as coronavirus emerged may already have failed.
Their business structures, funding, plans and market niche were established before the world changed. They may not have even made it to summer 2021 even if their idea will work great now that restrictions are rolled back.
If they did survive in some form, their funds may be low, and investors may have lost interest.
Of course, the big change brought about by the easing of restrictions is also potentially bad news for startups and scaleups that were born of pandemic conditions. Online courses, software businesses, PPE companies may be mid-scaleup, yet unexpected government announcements will result in demand for their services drying up.
What Other Challenges Do Scaleups Face?
- International Inconsistency – Different governments have different laws pertaining to the pandemic and this is a big stumbling block if you are an international business or do business internationally.
- Four Nations Inconsistency – Even within the UK, the four nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have different laws for Covid restrictions due to devolution.
- Distractions – Prior to the pandemic, businesses were preparing for numerous legal changes that would affect operations in the form of Brexit. Brexit law changes were a hurdle to begin with but with distractions of COVID, Brexit law changes are difficult to absorb.
- Lack of Valid Relevant Data – It is hard for startups and scaleups to do market research in such unprecedented times. Their data could no longer be relevant to the current situation.
- A Moving Target – With restrictions laws constantly changing, businesses may feel everything is a moving target when it comes to compliance.
- A Confused, Uncertain Target Audience – The general public are as confused as businesses and psychologically distressed. This makes their behaviour unpredictable and hard to map.
- Removal of Government Financial Support – The government offered support programmes and furlough money to businesses, but all that support is evaporating as restrictions lift. Yet the population’s behaviour may not snap back so readily.
- Nervous Employees – Even though restrictions are lifting, with cases rising, employees may feel unsafe in the office.
- Reckless Employees – Those employees who do feel safe may go to large events and socialise too much. They could bring COVID into the office, thereby making others ill and have to self-isolate. This could continually disrupt operations and productivity.
What Are Some Ways Scaleups Can Mitigate Risk?
Hope For The Best But Plan For The Worse – While many businesses pray for lockdowns and restrictions to end, you should base financial decisions and investments on worst case scenarios. Any extra is a bonus.
Prioritise Safety & Compliance – In a changeable situation that is beyond our control, such as a global disease, an overabundance of caution will usually be rewarded. In this way you will always be compliant with law, keep customers and employees safe. Less employees will be off isolating or ill and this causes less disruption overall.
Stay A Step Ahead – Keep up to date with coronavirus updates. Not only from the UK government, but from scientists, and from other countries’ governments, if you do international business. Knowledge is always power and allows you to be prepared, rather than doing damage control after the fact.
Automate – The more manual systems that are removed, the easier businesses will find operations. It’s safer in pandemic times but also boosts productivity in normal times.
Evolve – Technology did very well out of the pandemic. Businesses that facilitated online cooperation and communication, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc. came out on top. Just because they aren’t a legal necessity now, doesn’t mean they aren’t still a good idea. Companies that keep investing in smart software and solutions will find they are well prepared for any major shifts. These tools still work well outside of a pandemic and allow businesses to hire staff from anyway.
It may not seem like it, but device leasing is a way that smart scaleups can evolve. By leasing hardware, they can improve cashflow and have a more agile relationship with their hardware. Less commitment to machines that will quickly become outdated and more access to that latest technology. Costs are lower and device packages are changeable, flexible and work with your shifting needs.
Hardsoft Leasing Ltd can make autonomous financing decisions, so we can support your business with devices quickly with little to no red tape.
The ability to provide the right devices quickly to any employee, (in the office or at home) and swap devices easily, offers businesses numerous opportunities. They will be able to flex to the current environment and pressures.