“Every New Year, business leaders give their predictions for the coming 12 months, noting what their various industries can expect,” says Andrew Maren, founder and CEO of successful Fintech firm, ProfitShare Partners.

“Then 2020 arrived and brought with it a global pandemic that blew predictions, wishes and even the most set-in-stone plans out of the water.”

So, what did we learn from the last two years that we can take into 2023?

“That nothing is cast in stone,” says Maren, “and while plans and possibilities are important to note, based on the current economy and past experience with business volatility, companies must have a Plan B.”

Here, Maren suggests looking at entities from SMEs to large corporates to see who managed to pivot and meet the sudden shutdown that 2020 brought and stay afloat. “In particular,” he says, “look at those businesses that not only stayed alive, but thrived.

“There is much for every SME to learn from the sectors and individual firms that made money during the pandemic, so a good start to 2023 would be to make a list of who found opportunities in what initially looked like a wasteland; implemented them rapidly and kept themselves and their staff afloat.”

Fintechs to the fore

“As a Fintech, ProfitShare Partners was able to continue business as usual because face-to-face meetings are not required for us to approve cash injections for qualifying companies. This gave us the edge on traditional banking entities that require in-office visits to conclude deals such as these.”

With their extreme agility and reliance on advances in technology, the Fintech sector is growing rapidly, to the point that even traditional financial institutions are bringing out products as quickly as they can create effective solutions.

Communications more vital than ever

“With their ability to keep a brand in the public eye, as well as bring news of the pandemic and shared solutions, communications specialists were key to SMEs and corporates keeping in touch with what was happening both Covid- and tech-wise,” Maren says, adding that global studies show that marketers and comms firms were buoyed by the need for ongoing, factual accounts of industry and experiences.

Tech answered the call

The ICT industry was another sector that soared through the pandemic, says Maren. “By rapidly enabling work from home (WFH) and remote workers to continue to work, while creating communications solutions such as Zoom and MS Teams, the technology industry was accelerated by the new rules of the pandemic, and their success continues.”

In looking at these industries – and many others – we see the value of having a Plan B that good leadership can switch to in the event of the unpredictable. “As you make that all-important list of your goals for 2023, a review of 2020 to 2022 is vital as a platform for your Plan A – where everything goes to plan; and Plan B – where agility, flexibility and innovation is required,” Maren asserts.

“The spirit of the entrepreneur is one that is not only visionary, but adaptable. If I can give any lived-experience advice to SMEs, it would be to rely on past occurrences and your intuition to ensure that your company is ready for anything. By ‘anything’, I mean even what may seem an unlikely event.”

Highlighting the delivery business that has blossomed into a full-blown, valuable industry because of the pandemic, Maren highlights the “colouring outside the lines” theory as a start to any SME’s 2023 plans. “Don’t assume that what worked last year will work in 2023,” he warns. “Nobody saw the pandemic coming; nobody thought there’d be a major war right now.

“Rely on that entrepreneurial ability to see the bigger picture, which includes the opportunities outside the lines. There are improbable probabilities in even the most bleak-looking circumstances. Be that company that sees them first, and make 2023 the year you succeed by having a robust Plan B – just in case.”