Mixing the New with the Old

Adapting and pivoting. For businesses, these two words sum up 2020 and the COVID pandemic perhaps more than any other words. Each and every business has had to reinvent itself in some form or another during the last year or so.

For some, when comparing the business and the business model in 2021 with that that existed in 2019 there will only be marginal differences, whilst for others it will be a completely different business. Either minor adaptation or complete pivot. The majority of enterprises will of course be somewhere on the spectrum between these two extremes.

But what is certain for virtually every one of them going forward is that the business model for the future will be mixing the new with the old. By definition, the vast majority of businesses that have adapted or pivoted will have unearthed new revenue streams that they were not accessing at all in 2019, and these enterprises are the ones with the biggest advantages to take the next steps forward in 2021.

The reasons for this are of course obvious. Before the lockdowns, the business was viable with the old business model, and during the difficulties and lockdowns of 2020 those same businesses remained viable with the newly adapted business model. So, if all the best parts of the original business model are retained, and then all of the best parts of the new business model are added to this, the sum of the parts will be greater than either the original plan or the plan that was necessary in 2020. As such, the plan for 2021 will be superior to either of them.

Or, put another way, the income streams and profits from mixing the new with the old will almost certainly result in a business with a broader base, a more flexible approach, more customers and a greater number of satisfied customers. In addition, those businesses that have looked after their customers well during 2020 will reap the benefits from having a much more loyal customer base going forward.

There are other benefits also of mixing the new with the old, and whilst the details will vary depending on the sector and type of business, together with the size of the enterprise, the theory remains good for all businesses. Many have had to review working practices, systems, and every other aspect of how they work, in order to trim costs, simplify procedures, or change in a host of other ways, as many have had to operate with fewer staff.

In addition, we have all learnt to be more flexible in our working patterns and being more understanding of juggling that all important work life balance, even if that can be far harder for founders to achieve initially. There is no doubt that how people work, where from, how flexibly, and so many other aspects of what was once considered to be the norm has now changed forever. Employers and employees should harness these changes, and those business that do this, and do it well, will reap huge productivity benefits. This in turn will give them benefits over any competitors that that have not learnt the lessons and adapted all aspects of the business accordingly to be best placed to take those next steps.

I am very privileged to speak with many founders of early stage businesses every week and these can be from almost any sector. There is no doubt that from this very informal and rolling survey that many businesses are indeed planning the next steps by merging the new with the old, but for those businesses that are not, then they really should be.