How Can Businesses Pivot Post-COVID?
With the world feeling ever so unsettled at the moment, it can be hard to imagine what a post-COVID existence might look like. However, businesses are being encouraged to picture that world, so that they can make plans for the future and hit the ground running once they are fully out of lockdown and back to ‘normal’.
This new normal is what businesses are speculating about — how can we predict and adjust to what the world might look like post-coronavirus? We’re interested in how businesses can be agile and flexible in order to pivot to the post-COVID world. Truly, we can neither predict nor control the uncertainty prevailing in the world and in the economy. Hats off to the entrepreneurs and business owners who are navigating our businesses through the turbulent times and the risks that we are taking head-on. It is not meant for the faint-hearted.
Take a look at our top tips on how to pivot post-crisis.
Assess Your Business’ Current State
Business leaders need to assess their business strengths, weaknesses, existing resources, in light of the current trends. This would be a good time to also assess the capabilities and capacities of the existing team members. Ensure you are putting the right people on the right key seats and getting people off the bus. I recently wrote an article on the 11 Cs that will help you cope with this period, and many of those strengths should be looked at now.
Put Employees First
It goes without saying that in the current climate, some staff cutbacks have been unavoidable. The negative impact of the pandemic has reached every corner of our businesses, from the boardroom to the everyday worker.
In those instances where employees have been cut, it is important that a plan is in place to bring them back on board as soon as the time is right. It is also essential that change is communicated openly and honestly throughout the organization. Your people are your life force, and the only way you will be able to navigate the post-COVID world is with a team of employees who believe in the business.
Employee concerns must be held in high regard at this time — your people need to know that you care about their well-being and how the business will support them post-coronavirus. Many people have had their lives changed by the pandemic, and it is essential that businesses recognize that.
Invest in your people and ensure they have the skill training they need to help them excel in these crazy times. The safety of our people and those around us is our top priority.
Be sensitive to business changes that employee might want
It is essential that we are aware of what many employees have given up recently. For many, the pandemic has meant that they have had to work from home, take a pay cut, and essentially switch up their lifestyle in order to help your business survive.
In the post-pandemic world, it’s important that you respect these changes that they’ve made and take into account that they might want some government agency over how they work now. When we heard back into the office, this might mean that people want to work from home more frequently, have an altered dress code, tools to effectively work remotely or have more freedom when it comes to flexible work hours. These changes may threaten core business DNA and therefore one may need to consider protecting their company culture and core values.
These changes are to be expected — your people have spent the past few months bending for you, so now it’s time for you to bend a little for them too.
Focus on a responsible balance sheet
As we move into the post-COVID world, business leaders are being urged to remember that there are more important things than profit during this time. As the crisis subsides, it will be essential that companies build their cash reserves back and take a more conservative approach to spending. They need to keep an eye on cash like a hawk, watching all the inflows and outflows and prioritizing what goes out. One may need to invest time to figure out which customers are contributing to cash, those who aren’t, need to be cut off. We need to prepare reports that assist in demand forecasting and match that with our supply and resources. Revisit our KPI dashboards and look at the numbers daily and weekly, and not monthly and quarterly.
Short term investors and stakeholders might want to push for growth, however, we will likely see a shift in how things are done. It will be more important for CEOs to push back against any shareholder plans for major growth and work towards a more stable balance sheet. Businesses need to take into account the interests of employees, customers, and communities over profit during this time. The keyword is cash.
Be sensitive to the challenges in the world right now
The majority of people are facing crazy changes to their life right now, and that won’t go away in the post-COVID world. It’s important that businesses pivot their sales and marketing strategies to be more sensitive to the state of the world right now.
This might include taking a calmer approach, appealing to people’s needs or simply avoiding any triggering language that might be offensive or insensitive. It’s important to ensure that our messaging is empathetic and caring during this time — not forceful or boastful.
Times have been hard for everyone, we’ve all had to swallow our pride and accept the grim realities of the past few months. It’s essential that our businesses pivot to take that into account. If we don’t we’ll find that people are turned off by our marketing approach.
Be prepared to be flexible
Ultimately, none of us know what will happen in the post-COVID world. This is unchartered territory and no one can fully predict what will happen. However, we can be sure that adopting a flexible approach and remaining agile and willing to change will help businesses succeed in the future.
Often businesses have to pivot many times in their lives to cope with external changes — this is certainly one of those times for many. Be open to the possibility of change and willing to pivot if another path makes more sense. Businesses who do this will have a much better chance of survival.
The rate of change in the coming months will be incredible. One needs to have a team that understands that change is inevitable and they all need to become comfortable with it.
Be prepared rapid digital transformation
If your business was not already investing in technology or was avoiding the use of digital trends, now may be the time to ensure they are part of your plans and pivot. We have already seen how some industries were able to successfully adapt to the challenges COVID presented and were able to extend their business leveraging simple technology innovations.
There are myths that digitization is hard, it is expensive, the ROI is uncertain, and that it takes a long time to realize the benefits. The pandemic has taught us that all these myths about digitization are false and they need to be ignored. One needs to invest in programs that are urgent, bring in rapid cash to the balance sheet, increase revenue, improve margins, and help build a competitive advantage. It is common sense. Let us not over complicate the decision making here. You don’t have to plan a complete overhaul, it can be done in bite-size initiatives. In my businesses, ENO8 and ISHIR, this is exactly what we have been trying to educate our clients about. But we have seen that people within the organizations resist digitization and delay the necessary innovation process. One needs to partner with their digitization provider and make this happen now.
Most businesses discovered the gaps in their businesses that they did not have a direct relationship with their customers, but were overly dependent on the intermediary or distributors. For example, in retail and restaurants quickly adding the ability to add curbside pickup or delivery was essential, whereas we saw education quickly moving to online learning, and smaller events moving towards online events. Leveraging technology and innovation have been essential to success during this period and many businesses will need to keep this up post-COVID.
Create up to 3 scenarios
With the help of teams and key customers, define 3 scenarios and contingency plans based on market assumptions and demand possibilities. This will help you hedge your risks and allocate your budget and resources towards the most plausible ideas. Use the 50:30:20 method, which loosely means that you’ll put 50% of your income on needs, 30% on wants, and socking away 20% to experiments. 50% of your resources should go towards the most feasible and essential scenario and so and so forth. We would really like to see most businesses come back strong post-COVID.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How is your business pivoting to adapt to a post-COVID world? If there is anything I can do to help you with please do not hesitate to reach me. If you want to learn more, schedule a meeting with me.