Scaleup North East is supporting the region’s businesses to assess their operations and make the necessary changes to succeed in these challenging times. Scaleup partner Jon Symonds explains more

Since the introduction of lockdown in mid-March, businesses have been adapting to the impact of COVID-19.

Some sectors have found themselves on the right side of the demand and impact curve, with stunning examples producing sales of over 1500 per cent month-on-month. Other industries, such as the travel and hospitality sectors, have sadly been decimated by lockdowns both in the UK and internationally.

Reacting to the ever-changing environment, businesses have spent the last seven months addressing issues and attempting to tackle threats.

These rapid changes have included a sudden need to equip staff with digital solutions to work from home. For others, it has been essential to pivot into new areas.

For many businesses reflecting on their current circumstances, many are now looking at their margins, costs, workforce and payment terms, as well as assessing their stock movements, aged debtors, creditors and cashflow management in microscopic detail.

Most should have examined their supply chair and put immediate and necessary plans in place. However, it is critical that business leaders do not just plan for the short term but also plan for 2021 and 2022.

COVID-19 and the global lockdown has taught us that businesses need to reevaluate their models and structures and continually test these to ensure they remain fit for purpose. The impacts of the pandemic are far from over and management teams need to be prepared for the long game.

Lockdown has taught us our workforce and talent are critical and in the right environments can work and indeed thrive from home with the correct digital support, tools, and processes. But this is balanced by the impact lockdown has had on people’s health and emotional state – looking after families, being home alone and various other factors.

The surge in digital and the automation of services and processes are being brought forward partly funded by Government support packages and other reallocated funding.

Businesses that have pondered and delayed in moving to digital are now aggressively advancing projects to be ready to cope with the new normal with agile, lean and efficient revised business models. These reformed structures and improved processes will provide exceptional customer and employee experience.

Understanding consumer behaviour is critical as the knock-on effect on the supply chain cannot be understated. We have seen what can only be described as erratic spending and consumers moving en masse to online platforms, which places traditional delivery models under enormous pressure. Companies need to work out how to meet the demands and requirement for their product on a platform consumers want.

We are experiencing companies looking to return their production, or sourcing of product in the supply chain, back to the UK.

At the very least, firms are seeking to cover the risk element that COVID-19 revealed by developing a strategy to fulfil, for example protecting their bases by splitting their risk between multi shoring solutions, a huge opportunity for local businesses.

On a positive note, across the North East many businesses are taking this ‘adapt-and-thrive’ challenge on, moving at speed to make decisions. Talented and creative people are proactively looking at ways to innovate and improve their business models and strategy.

Businesses will adapt and overcome and we will continue to do all we can to assist them on this journey.

Scaleup North East
RTC North is delivering Scaleup North East in conjunction with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is aimed at supporting North East-based businesses that can demonstrate both the hunger and the potential to achieve high levels of growth. www.scaleupnortheast.co.uk