By P Lorraine Wigglesworth
Emerging Prepared with a Plan in a Post Pandemic Economy
It’s April 2020 and as I wake up and start my day, there is always the nagging questions lingering in my head. What the heck will my business look like in three months or even six months from now? Will I still have a business to run or will the way in which I earn a living cease to exist and will I end up doing something entirely different?
It’s hard to know what state my business will be in one month from now, let alone three months later. Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball that will predict the future for me or anyone else I know for that matter.
One thing I do know for sure is that things will never be the way they were four months ago. If you’re one of those people waiting for the ‘old economy’ to return or bounce back, then you’re in for a rude awakening, because it’s not going to happen.
I’m guessing that most people don’t want to entertain the idea that they could be out of business in a matter of months. Heck, it’s not something that I wanted to think about either. To be put out of business because of an invisible predator that has spanned the globe and disrupted peoples’ lives and the global economy just seems unfathomable.
As my husband and I watched what was going on within our own country and around the world and the impact it had on our businesses, we did a financial assessment of how long we could sustain our current standard of living. For some reason, I felt okay knowing that we could get to a certain period within the year. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t allowing myself to think about what would happen if we did run out of savings.
My husband on the other hand had thought about it. Hearing him verbalize his ‘before we get to that point’ plan of action forced me to finally go to that place in my mind where I needed to have the internal conversation, ‘what would happen if I could no longer maintain my business?’
The AHA Moment
When I did finally ‘go there’, I had a major AHA moment. Suddenly I realized something that had never occurred to me before. The voice in my head said, “Pam, you’ve been here before!”
Oh my God, yes, that’s right-I have been here before. I have had to unexpectedly close a business due to circumstances beyond my control – an economic crisis.
It was 18 years ago. I had a women’s fashion retail store in a major mall in Singapore. The store was in operation for a good part of 3 years, and just one year at the mall premises. Business was good. That is until we got hit by the Asian Financial crisis of ’99.
My clientele tended to be ex-pat women along with residents and tourists. As we moved through the year 2000, we witnessed the decline in the daily number of shoppers. People began to hang onto their money due to the uncertainties that lay ahead. Much like what we are experiencing today.
Eventually, it reached a point where there wasn’t enough business to cover the monthly overheads and the tough decision was made to close the store. Yet it wasn’t as simple as just closing the doors. While the landlords could see for themselves that there was no foot traffic for all tenants, they still demanded to receive payment for the remaining months on the lease. That resulted in a painfully written $40,000 cheque to the landlord. Making that payment just added insult to what was already a very difficult moment of having to close due to an economic crisis.
When the premises were vacant and the doors shuttered, I allowed myself to have a private pity party. I gave myself permission to feel sorry for myself for two weeks. When the pity party was over, I knew it was time to get up off the ground and get busy contemplating what the next plan of action would be.
Even through my despair, I was confident that there would be another business in my future and I would need to be prepared and ready to pivot.
Remembering that I’ve been here before and knowing that I had the resilience to bounce back and come out the other side, reassures me that I can do this again if necessary.
Every company or business owner will need to figure out what is best for them post-pandemic. Maybe you haven’t even begun to think this far ahead. Maybe you have, yet still have no idea of what you’ll do when we all resurface in this new c-economy (COVID-economy).
Instead of waiting for circumstances to dictate what will happen in one to three months from now, I view myself as a surfer who needs to be out there in the blue ocean, judging, calculating, waiting for just the right wave to jump onto and ride through the barrel all the way to the beach.
This time I’ll be ready to ride on top of the wave instead of finding myself being tossed around in the surf and not knowing which way is up.
Preparing for the C-economy
No one will be able to say for certain when countries, states, and communities will be open their doors for business, yet it’s important to be ready with a plan of action.
Here are just a few thoughts for business owners and business leaders to consider right now in preparation for the resurrection of their business.
Establish product-service relevancy
There are a few vital questions to address before you begin to create the recovery road map.
Is my product or service still relevant to my target market today and will it be relevant post-pandemic? Will the target audience remain the same or will it change altogether?
If my target audience remains the same albeit with minor changes, then I will move forward with my recovery roadmap.
Anticipate, ask &answer
Read the latest research findings in your industry, along with reports from economists. As business operators, we need to research the market and anticipate the wants and needs of the consumer in order to provide appropriate solutions.
Creating ideal solutions for consumers cannot happen while brainstorming in isolation. Ask your clients what they will need in a post-pandemic business environment.
Armed with research and the needs of the target market, answer their requests, and deliver your best solution that addresses those immediate needs. This may require the development of a whole new product or service.
Double down on the low cost, no-cost marketing activities
The global health and economic crisis has left millions of businesses without incoming revenue for months, so the last thing most would want to do is fork out large sums of cash for marketing campaigns.
However, that doesn’t mean that a business should go underground and not market at all. On the contrary. There are things that any business can do to continue marketing their products and services using low cost or no cost marketing activities.
- Create content. No one knows your business better than you (and your employees if you work for a large organization). Start by creating content that educates and helps your target audience. Your content can be distributed in so many ways.
- Write blog posts and upload them to your website, social media pages, and syndicated sites.
- Conduct a survey related to your industry and then distribute your findings that to your target audience if it will help their business.
- Use free creative sites like Canva to create visual content such as banners, posters, social posts, animated posts, etc.
- Use the free tools to create infographics that educate.
- Create short videos that educate, motivate, or demonstrate a product. Everyone has a camera on their smartphone so pick it up and hit the record button. There is no excuse not to.
Seek synergistic collaboration
One of the upsides to all the chaos we’re all going through is the change we are seeing in humanity. The giving economy is on the rise and rightfully so. You are of greater value to your clients when you offer them more of what they need.
Seek collaboration with business partners who can add value to your client base. What can others bring to the table that is beneficial to your clientele that is not in direct competition with you, yet creates synergy for both of your businesses?
Reaching out to other corporates and business owners will stimulate the economy and creates a three-way win.
Learn and Go Digital
The way business is conducted today has already changed. Operating efficiently in the new c-economy will require the use of more technology and apps for conducting business remotely with clients and team members.
Businesses that once offered their services in person, must adapt to digital platforms in the new normal. This form of communication once thought to be a ‘nice to try’ has moved into the realm of a legitimate way of doing business.
Not only will the need arise to learn new technologies for virtual engagement, the need to know how to protect our privacy will require us to spend some time understanding cybersecurity as well.
There will be a learning curve, yet failure to dive in and embrace the new wave of technology that has now become part of our everyday lives, will mean that those who are unwilling to learn will be left behind.
Repurpose to Create Additional Revenue Streams
As a veteran small business owner, I’m a big advocate of having multiple streams of revenue. Each time I develop a new brand, I map out the various ways I can sell my services at different price points and through different distribution channels.
Having more than one revenue stream is something that I push small business owners to do initially when crafting their business model from the get-go.
View your business with fresh eyes. At the onset of your business, the product or service you offer may have been created for a specific target audience. Can what you offer now be re-purposed for another audience or niche market?
Case in point. I have a deck of cards on entrepreneurship that was derived from the chapter action steps from my book, The 50-60 Something ™ Start-up Entrepreneur. The deck of cards was a spin-off from the book and became another form of re-purposing information and additional revenue stream.
Given that the information on how to create a business is the same, I can now re-purpose the deck of cards with a new brand name, new design, and sell this to a completely different market.
Is there a portion of your business that can be splintered off to create a new product in another industry? What could potentially be re-purposed or even upgraded within your own business to create a new stream of revenue? With a little brainstorming, you just might surprise yourself with what you come up with.
Riding the Wave
A big wave of change is on the horizon for all of us. It’s going to come in the form of a recession or possibly a depression. I’m preparing myself now. I want to be ready when the wave of opportunity surges toward me. I hope others will join me out there in this blue ocean and we can ride this wave together.