November 30, 2020

Business Basics on Surviving a Pandemic

By ush10

The world is on a tough break slot online. With COVID-19 ravaging healthcare across geographies, we are also seeing a massive economic downturn that is disrupting conventional business practices (enterprise and SMB alike) and causing financial and opportunity loss that a lot of businesses will not be able to recover from.

The financial crisis that is currently at the world’s doorstep is leading a lot of businesses toward financial ruin, and also having a severe impact on businesses that are still afloat.

Since I am in the digital transformation and innovations space, I see a lot of firms regularly, ones that are surviving but still trying to make sense of the new normal.

I do not consider myself an expert. I have been blessed to work with people who have helped me deliver region-first/shaping products and services, and I will be leveraging this experience in hopes of delivering advice that I am hopeful may work for you.

1. Surviving: The hitchhiker’s guide to riding out a pandemic
No one saw this coming, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It is like an invasion, and we’re on an interstellar ride that makes no sense. Up is down and down is up. Four months in, masks are the new normal. A few months back, our governments were telling us to leave the masks for the doctors, and now here we are – masks are on again.

The lesson here is to be prepared for anything during a pandemic. As a business struggling to find its fit, you need to experiment, adapt and evolve. The world is going through unprecedented change. For the sake of your family and the families that depend on you for their livelihood, pivot your process and build something that works for the time being.

The e-commerce landscape has seen phenomenal growth, but not across all categories. Luggage, travel and tourism, and apparel sales have taken massive hits. While some businesses have faced closures, others have pivoted to focus on categories that are seeing massive growth.

An example of this is Denny’s, which has pivoted from the conventional dine-in model to deliveries.The time to play it smart has arrived: Focus on fast failure, learn what works and what doesn’t, and start growing your business now. The sooner you do that, the sooner things will start looking up again. [Read related article: How to Pivot Your Small Business to Help During COVID-19]

When you can’t pivot, lead with experience
Time is of the essence. Businesses are being bled dry with massive closures, new safety protocols, second waves and more to follow.

The human process has been disrupted, and people are not ready for a long-term commitment. This is the ideal time to reevaluate your market standing and work on synergies and alliances that shorten processes and let people enjoy better serviceability.

Customer experience comes to mind when we are discussing people and their hesitance to commit. An example of a company working on evolving the conventional user experience is Mil.k Alliance, a blockchain platform that aggregates reward points of service companies in travel, leisure and lifestyle sectors.

Imagine the hardest-hit industries coming together on one platform and telling their customers, “We will make sure you can collaborate across our services, with respect to loyalty and rewards.” I have respect for a service trying to pull that level of sway across brands during a pandemic, which is what needs to be done.

This is not a time to fall back, but to rise up, build synergies and alliances that show your customer that you are in it for the long haul. In essence, you need to lead with great customer experience. Imagine the customers you’re building strong connections with, the ones who have stuck with you on this crazy ride.

2. Thriving: School is out, and that’s a good thing
A lot of you might be very familiar with learning being led from homes, and that is a good thing – no one wants to send their kids out during a pandemic. But the strain on parents to manage learning at home is immense these days. It’s the same when we talk about work (for a lot of us in the corporate sector, the transition, though sudden, has been manageable).

Every action being performed in schools and offices has to be replicated in the home environment now, so homes have become learning and work centers. The struggle is real – I am going through it personally – but to be fair, we were wasting time commuting to our jobs. We also have to understand that there are ways to boost productivity from home now, if we can figure out how to optimize the practice.

This is something I was already working on with respect to my own startup – a three-year struggle that saw me pitch to family and friends and successfully build a beta platform meant to evolve the way we work and learn forever, Writesmiths (currently in beta and looking for synergies). The idea was to build a digital work and learning space where people can finally evolve past physical spaces and turn their digital tools into their offices.

As an organization, you have to understand that getting something done in a day is an effective way to scale (organizations that get more work done grow), but with limited time in a day, this is a challenge that should be solved – optimizing a work or school day helps everyone scale. Though fragmented, the tech is there. Organizing it and turning it into a palatable experience is what will help us evolve – and this pandemic has given us a test bed of sorts to make this into a workable solution.