Doing Business in Challenging Times: Where to Focus Your EnergyApr 09, 2020
In these challenging times, it is more critical than ever to lead boldly and with clarity.
There's a lot of uncertainty at the moment, and with uncertainty comes fear. And when fear sets in, we tend to start trying to project and forecast the future:
How are things going to turn out? How will my family survive? What are we going to do with the business, with my career, with the family, with the community?
While there are no simple answers to these questions, history shows that in times of crisis, opportunity abounds. Billion-dollar businesses were born during the 2008 financial crisis (WhatsApp, Instagram, Airbnb, Slack), while many existing companies reinvented themselves (Netflix, Disney, Apple, Microsoft).
There is a lot of energy in the world right now. Both positive and negative. Open yourself to the positive energy. Use it to strengthen yourself, to find your centre, to work on your personal, professional development and prepare your business for a world beyond COVID-19.
Here's where you can apply some of that energy...
1) Prepare for the NEW normal
Remote work will become strategic. Almost overnight we've learnt that we can use technology much more effectively to conduct business remotely. And that we need fewer face-to-face meetings than we thought.
Changes in your business model could dramatically reduce travel, allow more work-from-home opportunities for staff, and minimize the need for face-to-face contact.
And, the productivity and work-life balance benefits of working from home could be quite significant.
Companies that embrace these changes and make remote work the new normal stand to reduce costs, attract top talent and maintain flexibility in the future.
2) Reset and Reinvent
Sun Tzu, who penned The Art of War, recognized that chaos presents an opportunity for innovation. Like David, small businesses have the agility on their side and can innovate faster than the Goliaths in their industry—again, WhatsApp is an excellent example.
Stay positive and use this period to reset and reinvent your business— it's time to prune the apple tree...
Step back from the day-to-day operations take a hard look at your business. What products and services can you cut? What does the future look like? How can you reinvent your business to take advantage of the world that emerges?
Create a clear vision for what your world looks like beyond the challenges we are currently facing. Identify the opportunities that exist for you and your business. And then, create a plan to take advantage of them.
3) Focus on relationships over sales
The Coronavirus is bringing humanity together to defeat a common enemy. In South Africa, the virus has inspired a gangland truce. Rival gang leaders have stopped their endless turf wars and instead bring food to struggling households.
As we rally together around a shared challenge, we have a tremendous opportunity to build trust-based cultures.
Now is the time to focus on relationships over sales. Most people are worried about having a job a month from now, and not the product or service you're desperately trying to sell.
Invest in helping your customers, suppliers and competitors.
Most business owners and salespeople are quick to point out that they have long sales cycles. Well, consider the months ahead as a part of your sales cycle—the time you invest in building trust.
Be helpful, and it will pay dividends in the future.
4) Simplify your business model
Make it easier for customers to do business with you. Use this time to simplify your business model and take advantage of the technologies available to you to automate your business processes.
There's an Italian company (KING Flipchart) that sells panoramic flipcharts to the influencer community—people like Tony Robbins and Brendon Burchard.
That's all they do.
They have a tight niche, and their customers do their marketing for them—what better endorsement than having your product share the stage with Tony Robbins.
The product is sold via their website. And they only offer two options—the KING Flipchart and the KING Flipchart with a travel case.
Their pricing is at a premium, north of 500 Euro for a Flipchart. But they have a unique product, endorsed by the influencer elite.
Co-founder and head of sales, Tiziana, answers questions via chat and will ship a KING Flipchart to you within 3-days.
KING are the Ferrari of flipcharts—and tick many of the boxes for valuable business.
Imagine for a moment: a simpler version of your business. Can you narrow your focus to a single product or service? A single product you can sell to many people using a simple, automated business model?
5) Create an Autopilot setting
We all have a little more spare time on our hands at the moment. Even if only the time reclaimed from your daily commute. Put it to work. Use the time to reflect on your priorities and work on your business.
- Build a strong leadership team—people with skills and experience that compliment your own.
- Design and implement the guidelines and operating procedures to help them run the business without you.
- Test them now, while you are working from home, instead of in an office down the hall.
Right now, you have the opportunity to invest in your business, to reinvent it. To create a company that emerges healthier and more valuable.
For more insights into building a valuable business in challenging times, don't miss:
- Can my business be purpose-driven and profitable?
- How to Help Employees Working From Home Stay Engaged and Productive
- What Should I Do Now?
- Smart Business Owners Are Turning Services Into Products (and Maybe You Should Too)
- Pivoting Your Business Means Leaning In (Even If Things Get Scrappy)
And find out how you can work with me for my personal help transforming your business into a valuable asset you can choose to either run at a healthy profit a sell for a premium.