Pandemic start-ups: five crucial questions to prepare for the future

Mon 14th Mar 2022

You started a business or adapted your existing model during the pandemic, but what next? Kirsty Davey, Partner and Head of Coodes Solicitors’ Corporate and Commercial team, discusses five of the key issues you should consider, to protect your business.

I have been reading a brilliant book by Laura Spinney called Pale Rider. She takes the reader through her research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, looking at how the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 changed humanity for decades – and continues to impact us today. What was clear from reading her book is that pandemics bring about huge long-term change, not just in society but also political and economic shifts.

In the business world, it’s been clear to see people adapting to the pandemic and it is almost certain that there is still change to come. Many businesses were set up to try to make the most of the shifting landscape. As well as new businesses being created, we also saw established ones adapting to survive.

So, what next for those pandemic start-ups, still in their infancy? And what about those that have changed their business model during the pandemic?

As we move towards what we hope is the end of this pandemic, it would be sensible, in my view, to consider some important questions.

1. Does your business model still work?

All businesses are shaped by demand, so the question here is, does your existing model still work? If you set up in response to challenges or opportunities during the pandemic, are these drivers still relevant?

You also need to consider other factors, such as the constantly changing markets and regulations brought in as a result of Brexit. Do you need to adapt elements of your business in response to these changes, from supply to your retail outlet?

2. Is your market still there or has it changed?

As Covid rules and restrictions change, so do behaviours. How well do you know what your customers or clients need at the current time? Are your customers still the same, or should you be looking to new markets?

For example, did you set up an e-commerce shop because of the closure of non-essential retail? Did you adapt your hospitality business in response to people cooking at home during lockdowns? If the situation has changed, should you or are you selling to the same customers?

3. Do you need to update your structure?

Many businesses set up in haste or adapted to try to survive in difficult situations. When doing so, did you skip over some fundamentals such as your business structure? Without having the right structures in place, you could be putting yourself and your business at risk.

Is it time to consider incorporating or putting into place some contracts, both between any joint business owners or with your customers and suppliers?

4. Do your contracts and insurance still work for you?

Are you still getting best value for money out of your contracts and insurance or are there better options? As markets open up and borders relax their rules, are you getting the best deal? Do you need to review your contracts to ensure they still serve your business? Are your terms and conditions of sale still fit for purpose? Could you get better deals on expenses, such as your business insurance?

These details could prove vitally important if you want your business to thrive as we come out of the pandemic.

5. Do you need to start looking for premises or a permanent base?

Do you need to start looking for premises or a permanent base or is it too soon to make a commitment? Is there a short term or pop-up solution?

If your business model is changing, it could be that you need to review your property needs too. Perhaps your business has grown since you started, or it could be that you need extra space to diversify. If, like many people, you set up a business from home during the pandemic, now might be the time to consider moving from your spare space at home to dedicated commercial premises.

Whatever stage your business is at, it’s likely that you made some changes during the pandemic. This could be the ideal time to take stock and review your needs now and for the future.

For any help or advice on these issues, please contact Kirsty Davey in the Corporate and Commercial team at Coodes Solicitors on 01326 214034 or kirsty.davey@coodes.co.uk.

Mon 14th Mar 2022

Kirsty Davey

Head of Corporate & Commercial

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