“ The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
― John F. Kennedy
FOR many of us, the last thing that we consider is to see the impact of COVID-19 through the lens of opportunity. However, as business owners if we do not take this critical point in time to consider and plan for our futures there is a very real chance that our ventures will be left behind.
In day to day operations the fact is that many business owners do not have the time to ask” “what if” … what if technology means my products are no longer relevant … what if my overseas manufacturer shuts down … what if an external crisis or disaster means I cannot open my doors? Building resilience or future proofing your business should be a continuous process – yes it does take time and effort … and we now have the impetus to bring our planning to front of mind.
Some questions you should ask yourself:
Is your business still relevant and will it remain so after the impact of Coronavirus lockdowns have passed?
Is your product or service a need or a want? What problem does your product or service solve and is it valued by enough people? We should expect that in the short, if not long, term that customers buying habits will change, And short term habits tend to become embedded over time.
Use this time to reach out to existing and potential customers to confirm their needs, wants and challenges.
Review what your competitors are doing in these circumstances, and immediately before this crisis emerged. Were there any emerging trends or technologies that you could prepare for?
Where were your source products coming from? Many industries have a global supply chain – and it’s now more evident than ever that it’s a risk to have all your eggs in one basket.
During crisis, both professionally and personally, information is power. The trick is though, that we don’t know what we don’t know – meaning a strategy to uncover these unknown variables, risks and opportunities is critical.
Roadmap to identify opportunity:
- Take stock of your business offerings now – what are your key products and services, who is your market and will they value and seek your offerings after we return to our new normal
- Find out what your competitors were doing immediately before this time – and during it
- Research any industry trends and technologies that may provide opportunity
- Check your supply chain and diversify it. If there is a risk to your business because of border and customs arrangements you need to take control and find or create alternatives.
- Identify and create opportunities to diversify your business – whether it be introducing new products or services, delivering your offerings in new ways, or partnering with other businesses to add value to customers – now is the time to plan and test these tactics to future proof your business.
- Communicate and focus on building and maintaining relationships with your customers, suppliers and peers that will add value to your business.
A case study:
The local butcher has noticed a downward trend with a large number of local residents in isolation. Many surrounding residents are retired – and those that aren’t commute into the city via train.
To survive the slowdown the roadmap is applied:
- The offerings are raw meats and condiments. While trade was busy in the immediate aftermath of panic and empty supermarket shelves the business is now losing trade. There will always be a demand for the products – the challenge is for customers to choose the butcher over a larger supermarket.
- Supermarkets – the key competitors to the local butcher – offer a large product range. But in this time of crisis and beyond customers may value “buying local” and buying fresh. Supermarkets also offer ready to make and ready to eat meals – however once again the butcher may be able to compete with locally sourced products and a fresher shelf life.
- The butcher then may identify new supply chains – across fruit and vegetables, pantry staples and other items.
- There are several opportunities the butcher may pursue – for example preparing ready to make or ready to eat meals for commuters who travel through the local train station each night and for residents of the town and local aged care facilities. Alongside this opportunity the butcher could also work with other suppliers to create and deliver weekly meals or supplies to residents throughout the community.
- To create an ongoing opportunity the butcher offers these new customers a weekly service based on a “subscription model.”
- To bring to life this opportunity letting customers know that you are creating this solution for them is paramount. Share through advertising, social media campaigns, updating your website and word of mouth. The butcher may include a video of how some of the meals are created – showcasing the sources of local produce and creating a sense of locals supporting locals.
On testing these new offerings the butcher embeds them into business as usual. The next step is for the business to continuously follow this process to remain relevant and valued by its customers.
Survival of your business in today’s world is dictated by your ability to adapt, to anticipate, identify and to respond to change. This is in its simplest form innovation. And any business can do it.