There has been nothing ordinary about 2020 so far. From drought, to bushfires and now the coronavirus taking hold, we are experiencing unchartered waters for the first time in most of our lives, and it’s certainly no walk in the park.
However it’s important to remember that this too shall pass. It’s time to embrace your strengths and learn how to survive in a rapidly changing business environment.
Let's first take a look at five ways you could adapt and evolve your business in difficult times, to suit a rapidly changing business environment.
One of the most common ways to evolve your business in difficult or challenging economic conditions is to pivot your business, or look at expanding your current service offering, or the products that you sell.
For example, a restaurant may look to offer takeaway options, home delivery, or even start offering the option to order online.
There are many ways to expand or pivot your business. Embracing technology, looking for new and innovative ways to reach your customers and even asking your customers what they want, are some of the best ways that you can turn difficult times into opportunities.
When faced with a rapidly changing business environment due to external factors, it is important to remember to continue to support other local businesses and your whole community.
Small businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy and without a thriving business community, many cities and towns will feel devastating effects for not only months, but years to come.
So take the time to still buy a coffee at your local cafe, purchase takeaway for your family on the weekend, and continue to support other local retail, trade and professional businesses when you can. Every purchase, no matter how small, can really add up to make a big difference in the lives of the business owners, their employees and their families.
There's nothing like a world pandemic or global economic crisis to really make you stand back and realise that you don't have a solid plan in place for your business. While plans still need to be fluid and allow for flexibility and potential changes that you may not see coming, they can allow you to navigate difficult situations with more ease. They can also provide you with a sense of calm, as you have a road map that can assist you in navigating difficult situations, and provide ideas and solutions that you may have forgotten.
If you are experiencing slower times in your business than usual, take some of this time to not only create a plan for now (and the next few months in your business), but a plan for six to twelve months in advance, and even two to five years into the future.
It's been a common occurrence in history, that during pandemics and world recessions, that a lot of innovation, particularly technological innovation. When you experience challenging times, how you view the challenge is directly related to you and your perceptions. In challenging times, you may see it as an opportunity to reinvent yourself. You may look to reinvent your business, whether that's through a new service offering, whether it’s through a new look and feel for your business branding, or whether it’s driven by processes, people or how you deliver your products and services to your customers.
It's important to remain calm and level-headed during difficult times, but it can also create an opportunity to be brave and display courage by doing things differently. It may even mean that you take a leap of faith and add something new to your business that you never dreamed you would. As the saying goes “you don’t know, if you don’t try”.
During periods of uncertainty, the needs and wants of your customers will change. It’s inevitable. So it is important to consider how the impacts of your customers' needs and wants will change, and what this means for you and your business.
Take the time to ask questions, request feedback or simply listen to the language they use in everyday conversations. Some of the most savvy businesses have created new products or services, not out of their own ideas, but in fact out of the needs and wants of their customers. Look for areas of opportunity, think about how you can innovate to provide more useful products or services.
Learning how to survive during challenging times will require resilience, strength and a lot of courage. But by looking at the situation as an opportunity to not just survive, but thrive in your business creates a completely new outlook, and allows you to challenge perceptions that you otherwise would not have considered.
Embrace the opportunity to expand or pivot your business, support others, create a plan for the future, reinvent yourself or aspects of your business, and listen to your customers.
You have the opportunity to create a business that not only survives, but thrives in a time that will forever be etched into history.