Former Head of Intelligence at the Royal Marines gives strategy advice for UK SMEs to survive COVID

The UK's current generation of SMEs have never experienced a catastrophe quite like the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, a fifth of small firms are expected to close as the lockdown period takes its toll. The disruption to trading caused by COVID has been highly detrimental. As the nation enters a recession, too, small firms need as much help as possible to ensure they survive the fallout. Enter The Future Strategy Club, a new type of consultancy agency, dedicated to helping firms of all sizes weather the COVID storm.

They have gathered the top strategic thinkers and businesses brains to compile a new Survival Guide, filled with tips and advice from the best in business to help firms navigate through the uncertainty.

The first member to contribute to this Survival Guide is The FSC Advisor Gareth Tennant. Gareth was a Regular Royal Marine for 11 years, rising to the Head of Intelligence role, and now owns his own business strategy firm - Decision Advantage - which uses the knowledge and lessons learned from his military experience to help firms through times of complexity. Now in the UK, the pandemic has launched businesses owners into perhaps the most complex time ever as they look to get their businesses back on track.

In the final section of his interview, Gareth discusses how firms can get back on their feet in the wake of the pandemic:

Companies have had their resources striped back. How can they re-calibrate post-COVID?

"It’s never easy! The damage now has been done (and continues to be done) and leaders need to think, post-shock, how to get back up on their feet again. We tend to fetishize leadership, especially in the business world. Founders and executives want to have clear plans on how to move forward and give the impression of having the situation under control, but this can very often come at the detriment of workplace culture. 

Ultimately, you cannot lead a business without understanding its culture; a mission statement on a website is not enough. It’s about acknowledging what is good or bad about the workplace; acknowledging the unconscious biases. You have to embrace and embody what you currently have, otherwise you cannot recalibrate. There’s no tick box approach on how to be a good leader and the values of a firm cannot be changed overnight. Leaders have to build on what already exists and change based on this. They should think about where they want to get to. That is, essentially, what strategy is."

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