Now is the time to survive and innovate through the new norm of COVID-19
In this article, Paul Vousden Managing Director of the Corporate Counsel Ltd offers us six strategies to help us survive and innovate through the new norm of COVID-19
The whole world has been overwhelmed by the massive impact of the pandemic and it has brought untold challenges and hardship to individuals, families, and of course large and small businesses. Now that we have lived through months of lockdown and start to inch our way out of our homes and gingerly check what is happening in the ‘real world’ it is time for businesses to think about how they can survive and innovate through the new norm of COVID-19.
As we witness spikes in infections around the world, followed by a harsh return to even stricter lockdown measures in towns, cities, and states, it is becoming clear that there won’t be a simple end to the pandemic and we could be living with it for many months and possibly years to come. While there have been Herculean strides made in finding a vaccine by large pharma companies and universities across the globe
the reality is that bringing an effective vaccine to the masses will take time even with the acceleration process on human trials.
Hence, it is time for businesses, large and small, to accept that we need to adapt to the new norm and find ways of embracing this change and innovating our business models to not just survive but thrive in whatever way we can. If we look at those companies who are surviving and look set to thrive, we can see a pattern, which looks like this.
Reflect and reserve. At the moment cash is tight as many businesses and consumers stop spending so companies need to take a long hard look at their customer base to see if they can maintain a reasonable revenue flow and also look at ways of keeping their costs under control. There is always money available if you look for it so just because cash is restricted it doesn’t mean it has dried up completely. Many consumers, especially those on retirement incomes will still want to spend and many wealthy couples for example may divert their disposable income from a world cruise to renovating their kitchen or bathroom or splashing out on a home cinema as they are spending so much more time indoors.
Innovation. If your existing business is restricted or has dried up how can you refocus to meet a consumer need? We have seen examples of pubs and restaurants hit hard by the lockdown offering home deliveries of their favourite dishes. In order to Survive and innovate through the new norm of COVID-19 it's critical to Pivot! In my village, our local independent wine merchant is doing a roaring trade because they will work hard to deliver your order the same day and beat the larger supermarkets on the speed of delivery and combine this with a wider choice of unusual wines you won’t find on the big outlet shelves. I have also seen wholesalers who normally sell to restaurants and cafes start up a really good consumer ‘deliver to your door’ service with great success. If you are home baking, it is really hard to get regular supplies of flour but one particular wholesaler will deliver 20kg bags to see you through the lockdown.
New landscape – new opportunities. There have been widespread reports of lay-offs by chains such as Burger King and they have said they won’t reopen for a long time. This could be a great opportunity for an entrepreneur to open up a new fast food outlet, perhaps offering healthier meals as lockdown has made more people aware of their health and wellness.
Customers are kings and queens. It is an old established mantra that the customer is paramount, and it has never been more important than in this new COVID 19 world. Businesses that take extra care to look after their customers and meet their needs in a timely way and understand the importance of making them feel valued will win out over time.
Remember – this will pass. Although COVID 19 may well be with us for a fairly long period there will come a time when we are virus-free and consumers and businesses will get back to purchasing goods and services again as they expand and seek out new solutions to their needs. There is no doubt that most businesses will operate more digitally, and many more transactions and discussions will happen virtually so make sure your business is well prepared for the new digital age.
Look for the new emerging markets. One of the most interesting and positive impacts of the pandemic has been a growing awareness of the need to have a more sustainable economy and to start switching to cleaner energy and transport to reduce our carbon emissions. In order to Survive and innovate through the new norm of COVID-19, Governments are speeding up their commitments to introducing electric vehicles to reduce air pollution. Energy companies are switching their investment into cleaner energy technologies such as wind, solar, and wave power for the future. More and more companies are emerging with creative and novel ways of recycling materials and of cleaning up our oceans of plastics. Farmers are now considering the use of small robots that can plough, sow, and weed their crops without the need for harmful pesticides or large machines that churn up the fields and disturb wildlife. Organic farming is booming as consumers look to buying and consuming healthy food that has not been polluted by chemicals. Any business should be monitoring this emerging landscape to see how they can fit into it. In the future new homes will have built-in solar panels on roof tiles, better insulation to conserve energy, alternative fuel sources to replace gas, and many newer green initiatives. Can your company be greener and become part of what will be a thriving new sustainable economy?