One of the benefits of having a New Year is that it gives us an opportunity to start again and embark in a new direction. For most of us, 2020 was an ‘annus horribilis’ and ‘in the midst of it all’, it was difficult to see the forest from the trees. But a New Year allows us to stop, look back, see the big picture, reassess our options and begin again with a new strategy.
To embark in a new direction requires faith, a belief that all is not lost, a recognition that the terrain has changed, the path is getting narrower and the forest denser. One must stop, retrace your steps, climb a tall tree and get a new perspective. As you look over the tree tops, you can see the end of the forest and a gentler landscape beyond. But to reach this promised land requires you take a new direction, armed with the knowledge that beyond the ‘Mirkwood’ lies a land with fruit trees and babbling brooks.
A vision of a brighter tomorrow, by itself, is insufficient. It must give rise to conviction and purpose, a mission and a strategy to battle through the liminal space between where you are and where you hope to be. To arrive at this new strategy, first requires contemplation and then discussion and collaboration with your trusted partners. A new strategy often needs additional investment in resources. It is here that many fail, it is difficult to commit to additional resources, when existing resources are depleted and courage is a necessary virtue in this situation.
A new strategy must fit with a purpose that is relevant to the situation and times. It must also address an unmet need and make financial sense. Every strategy must be converted to a sound business plan. The challenge with a business plan for a new strategy is forecasting the revenue. When doing this, it is better to err on the side of conservatism. Be cautious in your projections. This will trigger the need to identify the financial resources to see the new strategy through the forest.
In the developed world, most of these financial resources come from venture capitalists. But in our neck of the woods, these usually come from loans and equity investment. Venture capital is significantly better, because often it is unlimited, until the venture arrives at profitability, allowing for fine tuning and adaptation of the product and service offering until is ideal. When using loan and equity investment, one is required to be extra cautious in the roll out of a new product or service, bearing in mind they are all prototypes until proven through growing repeat sales.
This New Year, 2021, is particularly challenging because of the nature of the change, the pandemic, and one can adopt the position, we will just wait it out until the old reality returns. But history has shown, this return to the old ways seldom occurs and even though the pandemic and its attending challenges will pass, the new reality would be something completely new, requiring new products and services. Bon Courage.