Prescriptions for business success during COVID-19

The current statistics about spikes in unemployment and financial struggles for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic paint a bleak picture. However, some businesses are thriving during this time — even those that aren’t considered essential.

To sustain your company during this dramatic economic downturn, consider these prescriptions for business health.

Repackage and recharge

If authorities have deemed your current business to be nonessential and have ordered you to shut down, you might be understandably concerned about whether your company can recover, even if you receive financial aid from the government.

Yet there are many businesses out there that have quickly pivoted to keep the doors open and continue bringing in revenue.

For example, restaurants and retailers have found ways to partner with delivery companies, start a pickup service, or create a subscription offering. Dairies and food distributors now offer their products to consumers as well as businesses that are moving to mobile service.

Gyms, karate instructors, and tutors have discovered video conferencing to continue their work virtually. Other companies like Hanes, Tesla, and MyPillow have repurposed their existing materials and equipment to respond to the need for in-demand items like masks, gowns, and respirators.

Brainstorm ways that you can repackage your business offerings into a format that doesn’t require personal interactions. Consider creating a subscription box or a product or service that can be delivered without direct contact. Also consider ways you can deliver your services virtually.

Refocus and respond

While business activity has slowed, you have more time to reflect on other aspects of your company that need attention. These areas include your overall customer experience as well as the processes you have in place to personalize communications and engage with those customers.

This doesn’t mean you need to invest in more technology. Instead, conduct your own market research. Survey your customers to learn more about them. If you’ve been able to keep your team on the payroll, put them to work on some of this research. Task them to reach out to everyone in your customer database to see what they may need and if you can help them.

Spend time listening to what customers are saying about you on social media, and look at online reviews. Also, explore how your competitors have focused on their customers. They may have some best practices that you can implement. Finally, investigate the available free tools you can use to refocus on customers and more effectively respond to their needs.

Review and replace

It makes sense to pause and take stock of your business operations. Look at every aspect of what it takes to run your company and identify those areas in need of improvement.

For example, the pandemic has uncovered many issues with federal and state governments related to supply-chain management, logistics, vendors, scalability, budgeting, and contingency planning, just to name a few.

The lessons learned during this pandemic may lead the country and individual states to seek solutions to these issues. Those solutions may help ensure we won’t face the same disruption if we have another situation like COVID-19 in the future.

You can do the same with your business. Take this opportunity to determine what has slowed your business even during periods of economic growth. Identifying and fixing those issues now can better prepare you for the inevitable return to normal business activity levels.

Rethink and revise

When you first planned your business strategy and stages of growth, you most likely relied on past economic cycles. That might have worked then, but historical data may no longer be valid. That’s because nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic has ever happened before.

The modern world hasn’t faced such major business, financial, and economic disruptions on this scale, and the experience has upended business planning and operations.

This pandemic has given us new factors, challenges, and opportunities to consider. These new considerations can help you create more accurate long-term strategies.

All business owners are now experiencing a situation with profound impacts on business risk, continuity, and contingency planning. Redirect your focus on how you spend, save, and allocate money. Define multiple revenue streams that fit the new demands and scope of an essential business, in case this type of situation arises again in the future.

Change is necessary

The business environment is continually evolving, no matter what the current economic picture looks like. The COVID-19 pandemic is just another evolution — albeit more severe than those in recent years — and it may be an opportunity to adapt your business to different needs and operating environments.

AUTHOR
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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