Here in New Zealand, COVID-19 Lockdown is lifted and we are officially in what we call Level 2. That means that life can get back to normal somewhat, even if that normal is a new normal, and not the normal we were used to pre-Covid.
The new normal means practicing social distancing when out, and mandatory sign-ins in shops, restaurants and sometimes even in supermarkets. Restaurants are open and bars are opening, but with a maximum party of 10 allowed at venues, with a total capacity of 100. Everyone must be seated, so no more standing at the bar counter for the forseeable future.
"Innovate or die" - Peter Drucker once famously declared. This is true more than ever right now.
If there is one thing that lockdown taught us, it is that we have to be flexible.
Relying too much on one product line or service has proven detrimental to businesses all over the world. Flexibility on the other hand, has enabled some businesses to change along with the changing circumstances around them, and as a result, they have been able to better weather the storm.
In the past few months we have seen some clothing companies like Swedish H&M adjust their manufacturing to instead produce face masks and protective clothing for the healthcare industries. We have seen American car brands GM, Ford and Tesla change production into making ventilators. And there are countless examples of smaller companies that have done the same, or similar things, in order to adapt to the changes in their circumstances.
There are opportunities in this market for businesses to thrive, you just need to look for them.
So how have these companies managed to do this? And how can learning from them help you and your business? Some of the same questions that these companies must have asked themselves in the middle of the crisis, can also be applied to smaller businesses who are trying to figure out a path in our post-lockdown world. These questions are:
What are your current processes and are they efficient?
Try to take a birds eye view of your company. It is easy to get stuck in your old routines and trudge on. A crisis like the one we are in now forces us to take a good look at our business and our business model and try to improve our processes to be as efficient as possible. It could be improving manufacturing or switching production "back home" to support local businesses. An overhaul of your market strategy might also be needed to better reflect changing market conditions. The idea is to look at all parts of your business as if you saw it for the first time, and look for ways to improve each individual part. Hopefully you will come out on the other end with a leaner, more efficient process. Or, you might discover that some of the products and services at this point in time are obsolete, and you need to find new business areas.
Can you spot any new opportunities in the market?
This could be opportunities like the increased need for PPE, or services related to mental health for example.
If you are a coach, perhaps you can offer new services targeted to the needs this crisis has brought with it?
If you are in tourism and your business has dried up, perhaps you can use your venues for teambuilding or networking events, or host a local farmers market? Maybe you can use your vehicles for school runs or elderly transport services or even food pack deliveries?
Can you use your current processes to shift into production, or offer services that would fill this need in the market?
Again, take a look at your product and service offering and see if any of these spotted opportunities fit into your existing business model, or if your business can be tweaked as to take advantage of this opportunity. Or, if you think the opportunity is big enough, consider starting up a new business that caters to this need. Quite often you can use parts of your existing business to help with the new one; think HR and marketing departments for example in addition to manufacturing. But even if you are a sole trader and are thinking of starting up a second venture, you will have gained a lot of experience from your first business - which means that setting up and getting the second on track will be a lot less daunting and time consuming than your first one was. Practice makes perfect as they say!
Don't underestimate the importance of your networks!
People want to help local business and business people, so don't be afraid to reach out and promote your businesses. Connect with others and see what you can do together. Perhaps there is a way small producers can come together to sell your products online, and thereby share website costs and admin? Or maybe you can start planning now for a networking or shopping event that can happen in Level 1 that will bring the community together?
Many people want to support local at a time like this, so it is important to look at what is around you, and how your business can fit into the product offering. For many tourism companies normally attracting foreign visitors, turning your eye to your own market and adapting your services for a domestic traveller is the way forward. Can you join up with other local businesses, and offer packages with accommodation, activities and dining?
The opportunities are out there, but you need to be willing to take a good look at your business and make some hard decisions. Sometimes you need to realise that what you have been doing in the past doesn't work anymore. Sometimes unfortunately the reality is that your market is gone - and the faster you realise this, and shift your attention to a new market, the better. As sad as every folded company is, out of the ashes can come new, better ventures. And although it is easy to look at a closed business as a failure, I challenge you not to. Every single thing we do and take on teaches us something. Having the courage to leave something that is not working and turn your attention to something new can sometimes be the best way forward.
I leave you with a few inspirational images from my instagram account @kaizen.kiwi
If you wish to discuss your options, or if you want help to identify new opportunities and set a strategy for the future
- don't hesitate to Contact Us today!