Fighting back… to the future with the Growth Hub

In this latest blog, SCR Growth Hub business advisor John Hassall, looks at how businesses can realign themselves to recover from the lockdown in the best way possible.

“Sheffield City Region’s businesses have begun the fightback. In thAs Covid-19 restrictions start to be lifted, business leaders are taking stock and evaluating how they can best adapt to what will be, at least in the short term and perhaps longer, a very different working environment.

Getting into the right strategic position and building muscle back into your business will require a carefully planned approach. For many that could mean a completely new strategic direction and this is why businesses are choosing to work with us here at the Growth Hub to guide them through.

“Going Back to the Future” accurately describes what is ahead of us as we tackle what is a vastly different working environment. This next phase of the pandemic is likely to become the “new normal”.

When we talk to business owners and managers, one of their main concerns is getting their staff back to work, safely.

However, getting staff back to work is only the beginning of the fight back. Businesses need to take a strategic review and ask searching questions about where they, as an enterprise, fit into this new landscape. Fundamentally, they need to ask what makes them different, what are the key USPs and how do they effectively communicate these to both a regional, national and international customer base. Only then can they begin to build muscle back into their business in the right places.

Many may have been thinking strategically about this even before the crisis and in some ways, what has happened in the last few weeks is simply the catalyst. That is how business works – adapting and responding to market conditions. Indications are that the rate of change in business will accelerate and future developments that may have taken years to implement will be delivered by agile companies in a matter of months and, in some cases, weeks.

Many business owners and leaders that I am working with are already demonstrating these winning characteristics and below I have summarised some of the statements they have made to me over the past few days:

  • “I’ve known I needed to make changes in my business for a while and now I am going to get on and do it”
  • “There is no going back”
  • “I have a blueprint for the future of my business and now I’m going to deliver it”
  • “There will be no disruption to our service”
  • “We will come out of this crisis with a leaner and more operationally efficient business”
  • “Embracing technology will no longer be an option in my business”
  • “I can have meaningful business conversations that achieve positive outcomes without spending most of my time travelling from place to place”
  • “I know now who I can rely on and who I can’t and that will help me to restructure my team to get us through this”
  • “Changes in our business often took months and sometimes years to deliver, going forwards important changes will be delivered in weeks”

These statements are an early indicator of future success, which is very promising as long as this intention is accompanied by an overarching framework for turning plans into reality.

Our approach in guiding businesses ‘back to the future’ involves working with a framework of up to four cornerstones. In summary, these include:

  1. Vision and strategy. Start by conducting a SWOT analysis and then set out your new vision for the next 18 months. Once this is done, create a one-page business plan.
  2. Financial management and reporting.  Strengthen your financial monitoring and reporting systems. Understand your cash flow perfectly (no delegation). Constantly monitor your profit and loss performance and set clear and unequivocal key performance targets that you expect everyone to strive to achieve.
  3. Sales and marketing. Be clear about your target market(s). Define how your business will convert opportunities into sales and make sure that you can pivot quickly.
  4. Leadership and management. Be positive in all of your dealings and constantly strive to communicate brilliantly with your people, customers and suppliers.

For businesses that can adapt, the next 18 months have the potential to provide some exciting opportunities – so now is the time to act.

The crisis has certainly made business leaders take note and realise that they need to have robust procedures in place that will help them weather the next crisis, whatever that may be.

Business leaders and managers will look back on this crisis in years to come and note that it was a defining moment. For the strong, for those willing to ask searching questions; to undertake a critical strategic review, they will be able to read positives into what happened.

Going back to the future may not have been what businesses would have wished for. But the reality is that those with a positive and optimistic outlook will come out of it stronger. As a business owner or manager, the best thing you can do right now is make sure that you work with someone who can guide you through this process. In doing so you will protect the livelihoods of the people who work for you and provide a platform for economic recovery for everyone.

The Sheffield City Region Growth Hub is here to support businesses looking to adapt their strategy and realign themselves for future growth. Our experienced team provides clear guidance whilst signposting you to the most appropriate resource your business needs.

If I can assist you in any way with the creation of your re-start plan, please call or email and I will be ready to offer my help at

To speak to any of our Growth Hub team, call: 03330 00 00 39 or email: