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In the midst of a global health crisis, it can be hard to visualize what things will look like in a year or two. So many unanswered questions remain. Trend forecasters and economists have been studying how this global health crisis has impacted business models around the world. As we gradually emerge from isolation, these models are being tested. Businesses will need to scrap their original 2020 plans, and many will need to reinvent themselves in order to remain relevant.
Adapting your business model to the new normal
There are several ways of looking at business strategy during times of social and economic trouble. Based on numerous interviews with businesses that have successfully altered course, I compiled a shortlist of considerations to help you thrive amid uncertainty. Learning from the experiences of others will help you emerge in a much stronger position on the other side of this crisis.
Change is good
Adapt your product line to meet the changing needs of customers. This will look different depending on what your company does, but it is important to remain flexible in the face of unprecedented change. Instead of giving up your hopes for profits, or waiting out the storm, successful entrepreneurs have taken a step back. Now is the perfect time to assess your clients’ needs, shift your focus towards the existing products and services that meet those needs, and then create new offerings to fill any gaps.
While undergoing change, business leaders also need to establish a minimum level of productivity. I sat down with Donna Cornell, author of Job Searching in Pandemic Times, and she told me many valuable insights about productive change. “One of the first steps is to ensure clarity in directions. If your directive is not clear your team may flounder and productivity suffers drastically,” said Cornell. “Another important aspect is to fully empower them with the task or responsibilities. If they have to keep checking with you, you will certainly lose productivity. The best result will come from a clear, concise directive and empowering the team to accomplish the goal. And, of course, share the expected outcome so the team knows their ultimate goal.”
Adapt, maintain, and add
With the many hurdles 2020 put forth, it became difficult for many businesses to function as normal. But social distancing does not mean your clients no longer need your services. Customers still rely on companies that can provide value, whether that’s digitally or face-to-face. Companies with the ability to pivot have introduced virtual versions of their products and services.
Be ready to recognize that the best way to counter a changing marketplace is staying consistent with winning habits. I spoke with Steve Battista, CMO of Revtown Performance Denim, about the concept of maintaining. Here’s his take: “Maintain a normal schedule. Shower and get dressed as if you are walking into the office. It’s all about the mindset.”
Battista went on to explain that supplementing good habits with creativity can be a refreshing change of pace and value-adder. “Use this current opportunity without constant meetings to explore your creative side. Usually, when you are in the office, you are fostering that creativity.”
Use these unprecedented times to innovate
I am all-in on the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention.” When times are tough, savvy entrepreneurs and business leaders turn to innovation to create new revenue streams and build deal-flow. A good example of this comes from the music industry.
To respond to the loss of touring revenue, artists turned to their online presence to monetize interactions with their most loyal fans. Soon there was an explosion of tech tools for the purpose of offering digital fan experiences. Music and tech journalist Cherie Hu writes in her newsletter, “Water & Music,” about the concept of super-fan experiences being reinvented and repriced.
“In-person VIP meet-and-greets have largely suffered the same fate as concerts and tours … To maintain the health, safety and security of everyone involved while opening up access to a global audience, more and more artists are opting to connect with their superfans remotely instead,” Hu claims.
Hu goes on to write that apps like Cameo, Looped, QJAM, Chatalyze, Topeka, Fundo, Superpeer, Starsona, Jemi, and others all deliver unique digital experiences to fans. “Given the ongoing uncertainty around the future of live events, artists will only be leaning further into these superfan engagement tools in the coming months.”
We might all be getting tired of hearing about the “new normal,” but it is important to consider how the world has changed so far this year. The battle for consumer relevance will require business owners to improve their propositions, adapt to customer needs, and customize communications to send the right signals at the right times.
Now is not the time to take a wait-and-see approach. During turbulent times, quick action is not only acceptable; it is expected. Being stronger tomorrow requires business leaders who will act today.