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It's tough at the top... but business leaders have a plan!

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Last week, we hosted the first in our series of Firestarter Forums, where we aim to bring together a broad range of business owners and leaders to address the essential issues they are facing as they develop their lockdown exit strategies and successfully navigate re-entry into normal trading conditions, whatever that might look like in a post COVID-19 world.

 

During last week’s forum, we looked at the challenges of being the boss during lockdown; how leaders are adjusting to a different way of working, how bigger plans may have been put on hold, getting control back and finding a way back towards longer term strategic thinking.


As our brilliant guest speaker, Lisa Zevi from REAL Business Builders said, we are certainly living in interesting times and as the 42 people who attended the forum will confirm, business leaders are facing challenges that we probably never even contemplated before this crisis took hold. Nevertheless, one of the big themes that came out of the session is that we are a resolute bunch and are working really hard to address all the issues we are facing.

One of the really positive things to come out of the current crisis is our acceptance and use of new technology to maintain productivity, and this forum definitely maximised the potential of Zoom. The use of live polls, breakout rooms, split screens and professional graphics provided a truly professional delivery, all thanks to the expertise of our partners, Red Blaze.

In a survey completed after the session, participants provided some really constructive feedback, with 72% saying that this forum was better than other Zoom meetings they have attended and 73% claiming that the content was very relevant to their businesses.

Business leaders are feeling calm and focused

In fact, it was the polls that gave us the first enlightening moment of the session, with 80% of our participants saying that they are feeling calm, focused and are actually using this situation as an opportunity to review how they live their lives, with possibilities that they had never considered before.

Clearly, there are worries that all business leaders are facing right now, such as changing business models to survive this current period, managing employee wellbeing and effective leadership, diminishing business (and personal) finances and more. During the breakout session, all our participants shared ideas and best practice on the best ways to deal with these challenges, but a comforting fact that came out was that 77% of our audience had a plan before this crisis hit, and are either sticking to it or already have a new plan that they are executing.

77% of our audience had a plan before this crisis hit, and are either sticking to it or already have a new plan that they are executing.

Following the breakout sessions, the group were treated to an enlightening and insightful presentation from our guest speaker, Lisa Zevi, who focused on our ability to react to change and what you should do as a business leader. It is important to remember that however you may be feeling inside, you represent a pillar of strength to your people, who are looking to you for guidance and leadership. Never forget that you can only control the controllables, such as how you feel or the actions you take, but now is a good opportunity to ask yourself what you really want – both in your business life and personal life. During her presentation, Lisa raised 3 insightful questions for us all to think about:

  1. What does success look like for you – has it changed, and what kind of life do you want?
  2. What is your role – what does it look like now, and what do you want it to be?
  3. Who do you need around you – what does your team need to look like for success?

With most people experiencing significant drops in revenue as a result of this emergency, there’s a general feeling that we’re in this for another few months yet. And while nobody has a crystal ball, the common thinking is that the business world will look a lot different and we will all return to a ‘new normal’ way of working, whatever that may be.
So, with that in mind, we also asked our audience ‘What is the one key takeaway and one key action that you will implement as a result of today?’ The comments received were extremely positive and highlighted how engaged business leaders are in developing their business and personal strategies for the next phase in this challenge we are all facing. Some of the comments received were:

There was real positivity among the participants – people looking for solutions, not bemoaning their problems.

I’m keen to feedback some of the learnings to my colleagues so we can provide a better service to our customers, with a better understanding of their headspace.

I am further inspired to take part in events such as this where I can hear how others are responding/dealing with this challenge and what thoughts they are having for the near and far future.

I liked the focus on how we’re doing as people. All other content focuses on the business rather than the owner.

 

There was real enthusiasm about attending more Firestarter Forums from all of our audience, and we will be holding an initial series of 5 topics specifically related to the current Coronavirus situation, but we will continue with additional topics and themes that are really pertinent to our audience. We are also going to run a number of Firestarter Friends’ Workshops for smaller groups after each forum, picking up on key topics raised and addressing the issues in more detail, which will then lead into the launch of the Firestarter Academy where we will be focusing on workshops and interactive learning to help business leaders to develop the key skills and tools they need for success.

Our next forum topics are:

  • A whole new way of doing business – coping with a massively changed way of taking your product to market.
  • It’s all about the people – coping with (all) the challenges of managing at team at this difficult time.
  • When can I start planning with confidence? – building a meaningful financial plan for the next couple of years.
  • Workplace, what workplace? – will it ever be the same again?

 

We want to focus on getting the broadest geographical reach that we can – breaking down the boundaries and helping business owners all over the country to come out of the COVID-19 crisis in a much stronger position.

So, please keep coming and ‘spread the word’.

 

Click here to find out more about the Firestarter Forums and register your interest.

At Firestarter, we consult daily with businesses like yours to ignite and sustain their sales growth. Our business growth consultancy is second to none, with over 25 years industry experience, and a diverse portfolio of clients that span throughout the UK. Get in touch with us today – we’d love to hear from you.

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