Increase your chance of business success post COVID
There is no crystal ball. We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last. At the moment it is all guess work. We can only speculate which industries will thrive, or what the short and long term implications post 2020/2021 will have on business around the world.
One thing we know is that COVID-19 is influencing a new normal and it is safe to say our world is and will be different as an outcome.
Since we can only make predictions; flexibility and innovation are of upmost importance to business survival. Companies have to overcome challenges quickly and seize opportunities – quickly and in some cases completely reinvent their business operations.
Your Consumers are Everything
Observe and monitor consumer behaviour as there has been a significant shift in spending patterns since the beginning of COVID-19. The pandemic has accelerated consumer spending trends and it is predicted a lot of these patterns will remain in the future.
Some of the emerging trends in consumer patterns are to shop local, conscientious spending (and prioritising basic necessities), limiting waste, sustainability. People have been very receptive to new forms of technology, particularly related to staying connected, informed, and educated, working from home and entertainment. The final trend is health.
Consider how your product or service fits in with these trends?
Does your packaging and marketing show how your product represents these trends to potential consumers?
Can your packaging be more sustainable? If your product or service does not reflect any of these trends, have you thought of a plan to stay relevant, fulfill a need or help people?
Going forward your health strategy is essential. The ‘new COVID normal’ will bring about a range of different attitudes from employees and consumers alike. Some may demonstrate caution about health and hygiene and others will become complacent or indifferent. Your organisation must develop policies and implement measures to keep your stakeholders healthy and safe and it is imperative people adhere to this plan.
Remember consumer loyalty will shift as people are becoming more receptive to trying new products and brands so your customer service, pricing, payment options, accessibility, marketing, promotions, and policies need to be in peak performance. While everyone is at risk of losing loyal customers, it is also an opportunity to expand your network. Continue to monitor the spending habits of your consumers during the pandemic, as the world progressively opens up again and as the ‘new normal’ emerges. ANALYTICS IS EVERYTHING … if you do not like numbers and are a leader in a business, stop being a leader!
How Businesses Will Survive the Pandemic
While there is strategies and advice on how to operate your endeavours to come out on top, it is essential to understand there is no ‘one size fits all’. Each organisation needs to make their own assessment, considering of course, relevant consumer behaviour.
McKinsey & Company published an article highlighting 5 stages to act on to lead your organisation from today to the COVID ‘new normal’. I have simplified these stages and they are listed are as follows.
Crisis-response is in full motion. What is your plan to keep the lights on in your business during this period? Will you remain fully operational, slow down or lockdown completely? If you are unable to operate at full capacity, how can you keep a ‘pilot light on?’ Can you reinvent the way you can get your product or service to customers? Is there a way to keep your staff employed from home? If you are operating as usual, what social distancing and hygiene policies are in place to protect your employees, associates, and customers? This step is about finding the best way to address the pandemic for your business. Keep your business as active as possible without jeopardising the health of your stakeholders.
If your business has taken financial hit, you are not alone! Resilience will be imperative to progress to the next stage, which is establishing a better future in the ‘new normal’. While short-term finances are important, you need to look beyond the imminent, and implement strategies to strengthen your business for the future. This involves interpreting consumer behaviour and keeping an open mind about the products or service you offer and how to best produce sales.
If you were unfortunate enough to encounter a shutdown of your business, returning can be a slow process and productivity will not peak for some time as there is a chain reaction among the suppliers. You may find yourself reassessing your entire business plan in order to steadily increase productivity and progress to operating at full capacity. The most crucial part of the return phase is implementing your health and hygiene policies to avoid a second closure.
The pandemic has bought about significant changes to how people and organisations live, work, shop and use technology. Experts anticipate most of these changes will be permanent. Organisations need to plan ahead, the ‘good enough’ or ‘we are doing great now’ mentalities, will unlikely be enough. How can your product or service be enhanced to be highly sought after in the ‘new normal’? What is your strategy if you can no longer rely or afford your suppliers? Is there an alternative supplier, or could you become your own supplier? You will need to meticulously assess your products and expenditure. If your supplier increases costs, how much could you afford to absorb before you’ll have to pass that increase onto the consumer or find and alternative supplier? Have these figures in mind so you know immediately when to act before you start running at a loss. If you strive to plan ahead, improve your product or service, and understand your financial limitations, you will be more organised and productive which results in satisfied employees and customers.
Reflect on this pandemic and restructure. Let go of how things once were and embrace the new normal. Changes will be made across the board. Governments will be making changes to rebuild the economy, financial institutions to strengthen the system, corporations to evaluate policies and avoid the impact of a similar crisis in the future (or at least lessen its impact by continuing to allow working from home and taking other measures), education systems to facilitate and encourage distant learning, the entire health care system will be reassessed with more equipment and supplies to be made available, the list goes on.
COVID-19 has been challenging to say the least, but the positive is the opportunities that have emerged. Don’t rush back to 2019, some change has been for the better. See this as a fresh start, be open to new ways of doing things and embrace the new normal.
Leading through the COVID Pandemic
In order to respond to this crisis, leaders must create a specific COVID plan, or a ‘new normal plan’. No generic emergency plan will suffice. Action must be taken quickly. The circumstances will continue to unfold throughout 2021 so decisions must be made along the way- waiting for more information could be detrimental to a business. Experts advise leaders to arrange a response team to work together to create a COVID plan and respond to any factors that emerge along the way. This is a high stress situation and entrusting one person to make rapid decisions could result in mistakes and important factors being overlooked.
Crisis communication is important. Be confident, but also honest and realistic- people will not trust an overconfident leader in a crisis. Remain calm when developing and communicating emergency response plans. There are going to be changes to operation, finding ways to keep the revenue coming in and your employees ‘employed’ is a priority. There will be unpopular decisions that must be made for the wellbeing of staff and their families. Roles may need to be temporarily altered, rosters may need to change to ensure compliance in social distancing measures, some may move to working from home. Don’t leave your employees in the dark, be transparent about these decisions, explain the motive and provide an estimated timeline for these changes.
Business in 2021 and beyond is going to look a whole lot different to what we were accustomed to before 2019. COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated the evolution business by years. Seize the opportunity to explore new ways of operating. Keep open mind and embrace the change because it is definitely coming!
I am passionate about creating curiosity and inspiration that develop options. Think of ways within your own teams to create time to inspire curiosity and see what comes from that .. many people create meetings or time with team members to plan for dooms day .. turn up the dial .. spend time on opportunities, different ways of engaging your customers based on their behaviours and needs. Good luck and let 2021 be the positive year of change for you.
Ferne Eliz King
Love Life Love YOUR Life
Curious about Actions for Your Tomorrow
Let’s have a 30 min free conversation and leave this call with a greater degree of curiosity and options. If you are an inspired individual or are in an inspiring business I’d love to listen to your journey, your challenges and your aspirations. I want to know about your superpower, everyone has one! I want to turn up your curiosity dial and create options that transition to actions OR rejig your current actions to achieve your tomorrow. I want you to leave this call with inspiration for your tomorrow.
My superpower is to ignite change and inspire actions to achieve the imaginable future of individuals and businesses. The first step is facilitating you to unlock your curiosity.