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The pandemic could have permanently changed the way we do business. There’s no shortage of self-proclaimed experts who will offer to tell you how – for a fee. The problem is that the panel of experts – and the expertise – is in its infancy at best. Finally, the experts did not anticipate the ongoing disruptions to the supply chain. The experts had not predicted an equally sustained large exodus of workers. Few, if any, of the pundits predicted a tectonic shift in the way we do business.
Maybe it’s not their fault. The fact is that the pandemic has created a new economic landscape in a very short time. The modern economy never had to cope with the countless crises caused by the pandemic. We’re still sifting through the Covid debris. We know we’ve been hit by some kind of catastrophe, but we’re still not sure what the impact is. It’s like emerging blindfolded from a tornado shelter. Any honest expert will tell you that their projections of the future are estimates at best. They reach into the dark to make sense of it all.
Should the change be incremental or revolutionary? Is the best advice for changing your business to not change at all? That is not feasible for those facing immediate existential threats. Adjust or die. The question is: where does a business owner find relevant analytics? Here are two of the best free resources for business owners ready to embark on the self-help path. Their experts may speculate to a degree, but they also have a wealth of information that offers breadth, updates, and practical applications.
Related: How to use the right data to make effective business decisions
McKinsey & Co
McKinsey & Company is America’s oldest consulting firm for almost 100 years and offers a wealth of reports and articles from the micro to the macroeconomic analysis level. Founder James O. McKinsey is regarded as the founder of the management consultancy. McKinsey’s work includes advising governments with billions of dollars in sovereign wealth funds, helping companies develop financial strategies, and creating content for small businesses and individual investors. Much of this content is available free of charge, all that is required to access it is an email subscription to regular newsletters.
Yes, McKinsey is not without its detractors. The firm has notoriously misadvised some of its customers and industries. McKinsey is relatively transparent about these failures, pointing out the confounding variables that create unanticipated risks and opportunities. McKinsey’s work for various rogue states and notorious industry players also raises serious questions about organizational and industry ethics.
These problems are limited to McKinsey’s specific advice on behalf of major customers. If you’re reading this article, you probably aren’t one of them. Meanwhile, McKinsey’s hundreds of writers, researchers, and editors operate more like a journalistic establishment than a consulting firm. They generate an enormous amount of content on many levels of analysis. All of this can be very useful for business owners and investors trying to make sense of our heady times. McKinsey has focused much of its focus on the changes the pandemic has wrought on a myriad of issues. Most likely there is a report or article related to your challenges.
Related: Good decision making requires good data
US Small Business Administration
Say what you will about the bloated federal bureaucracy. But the US Small Business Administration has offered free quality analysis for small businesses since the Eisenhower administration. Policymakers correctly understood the role of evidence-based research in guiding America’s economic development in the postwar boom years. The SBA was established primarily to lend to small businesses, but its mission also includes sharing advice – not interest! The SBA is perhaps the only federal agency tasked with providing small businesses with the advisory tools and expertise typically reserved for high subscription fees or consulting contracts.
SBA’s market research and competitive analysis resources include articles, reports, and analysis tools for small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs whose fortunes are no more than a bright idea. You can use the resources of the SBA to make decisions about hiring, strategy, acquisitions, market research, management, financing, and business formation, among others. If you’re a taxpayer, congratulations because you’ve already paid for it! Of course, the SBA also provides all the information for small business owners looking for loans and government contracts.
Together, McKinsey and the SBA offer a wealth of information for the business owner on a self-guided, perilous journey into the post-pandemic landscape. Some of these resources and tools offer a level of analysis that would normally command quite high prices from a vendor. In these uncertain times, it might make more sense to do your own analysis to determine how to adjust than to pay a self-proclaimed expert to do his estimations. Stepping cautiously out of your own shelter, these two sources might only provide a glimpse of how the pandemic is impacting your business.
Related: Best ways to use data to make decisions