Emerging prepared with a plan in a post-pandemic economy
It’s April 2020 and when I wake up and start my day, there are always lingering questions in my head. What the heck will my business look like three months from now or even six months from now? Will I still have a business to run or will the way I make a living cease to exist and will I end up doing something completely different?
It’s hard to know what state my business will be in a month from now, let alone three months from now. Unfortunately, I don’t have a crystal ball that predicts the future for me or anyone else I know.
One thing I do know for sure is that things will never go back to the way they were four months ago. If you’re one of those people who expects the ‘old economy’ to return or recover, then you’re in for a rude awakening, because it’s not going to happen.
I guess most people don’t want to entertain the idea that they could be out of business in a matter of months. Hell, it’s not something I wanted to think about either. Being put out of business by an unseen predator that has swept across the world and disrupted people’s lives and the global economy seems simply unfathomable.
As my husband and I looked at what was happening within our own country and around the world and the impact it was having on our businesses, we made a financial assessment of how long we could sustain our current standard of living. For some reason, it felt good to know that we could reach a certain period within the year. It never occurred to me that I was not allowing myself to think about what would happen if did run out of savings
My husband, on the other hand, had thought about it. Hearing him verbalize his plan of action ‘before we get to that point’ forced me to finally go to that place in my mind where I needed to have an internal conversation, ‘what if I couldn’t keep my business anymore?’
the moment aha
When I finally ‘went there’, I had a great 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’ve 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. She ran a women’s fashion retail store in a major shopping mall in Singapore. The store was in operation for a good part of 3 years, and only one year in the premises of the mall. Business was good. That was until the Asian financial crisis of ’99 hit us.
My clientele used to be female expats along with residents and tourists. As we moved into the year 2000, we witnessed the decline in the daily number of shoppers. People began to hold on to their money due to the uncertainties ahead. Very similar to what we are experiencing today.
It eventually reached a point where there was not enough business to cover the monthly overhead and the difficult decision was made to close the store. However, it was not as simple as closing the doors. Although the owners could see for themselves that there was not foot traffic for all the tenants, they still demanded to be paid for the remaining months of the lease. That resulted in a painfully written $40,000 check for the owner. Making that payment just added insult to injury to what was already a very difficult time of having to close due to an economic downturn.
When the place was empty and the doors closed, 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 floor and get busy contemplating what the next plan of action would be.
Even through my despair, I was confident that there was another business in my future and I would have to be prepared and ready to pivot.
Remembering that I have been here before and knowing that I had the resilience to bounce back and get out the other side ensures that I can do this again if need be.
Every company or business owner will need to figure out what is best for them post-pandemic. Maybe you haven’t even started to think that far ahead. Maybe you have, but you still have no idea what you will do when we all re-emerge in this new c-economy (covid-economy).
Instead of waiting for circumstances to dictate what will happen in a month or three, I see myself as a surfer who needs to be in the blue ocean, judging, calculating, waiting for the right wave to jump on and ride. through the barrel until you reach the beach.
This time I will be ready to ride the wave instead of finding myself being tossed around by the waves and not knowing which way is up.
Preparing for economy C
No one will be able to say for sure when countries, states, and communities will open their doors for business, but it’s important to be prepared with a plan of action.
Here are some thoughts for business owners and business leaders to consider right now in preparation for the resurrection of their business.
Establish the relevance of the product-service
There are a few vital questions you need to address before you begin creating your recovery roadmap.
Is my product or service still relevant to my target market today and will it be relevant after the pandemic? Will the target audience remain the same or will it change completely?
If my target audience remains the same, albeit with minor changes, I will continue with my recovery roadmap.
Anticipate, ask and answer
Read the latest research findings in your industry, along with reports from economists. As commercial operators, we must research the market and anticipate the wishes and needs of the consumer in order to provide adequate solutions.
Creating ideal solutions for consumers cannot happen while brainstorming in isolation. Ask your customers what they will need in a post-pandemic business environment.
Armed with the research and needs of the target market, respond to their requests and deliver your best solution that addresses those immediate needs. This may require the development of an entirely new product or service.
Duplicate low-cost and no-cost marketing activities
The global health and economic crisis has left millions of businesses without revenue for months, so the last thing most would want to do is shell out large sums of cash for marketing campaigns.
However, that does not mean that a business should go underground and not trade at all. Otherwise. There are things any business can do to continue to market their products and services using low-cost or no-cost marketing activities.
- Create content. Nobody 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 many ways.
- Write blog posts and upload them to your website, social media pages, and syndicated sites.
- Take a survey related to your industry and then distribute your findings to your target audience if it will help your business.
- Use free creative sites like Canva to create visual content like banners, posters, social posts, animated posts, etc.
- Use the free tools to create educational infographics.
- 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 do it.
Seek synergistic collaboration
One of the advantages of all the chaos that we are going through is the change that we are seeing in humanity. The economy of giving is on the rise and for good reason. You are more valuable to your customers when you offer them more than they need.
Seek collaboration with business partners who can add value to your customer base. What can others bring to the table that is beneficial to your clientele that is not in direct competition with you, but creates synergy for both businesses?
Reaching out to other corporations and business owners will stimulate the economy and create a three-way win.
Learn and go digital
The way business is conducted today has already changed. Operating efficiently in the new electronic economy will require the use of more technology and applications to conduct business remotely with customers and team members.
Businesses that previously offered their services in person must adapt to digital platforms in the new normal. This form of communication that was once thought to be “nice to try” has moved into the realm of a legitimate way of doing business.
Not only will the need to learn new technologies for virtual engagement arise, the need to know how to protect our privacy will also require us to spend some time understanding cyber security.
There will be a learning curve, but if you don’t dive in and embrace the new wave of technology that has now become part of our daily lives, it will mean that those who are unwilling to learn will be left behind.
Reuse to create additional revenue streams
As a veteran small business owner, I am a big advocate of having multiple sources of income. Every time I develop a new brand, I plan for the various ways I can sell my services at different prices and through different distribution channels.
Having more than one stream of income is something I encourage small business owners to start when building their business model from scratch.
See your business with new eyes. At the start of your business, the product or service you offer may have been created for a specific target audience. Can what you offer now be reused for another audience or market niche?
Case in point. I have a deck of cards on entrepreneurship that was derived from the action steps in my book chapter, The 50-60 Something™ Start-up Entrepreneur. The deck of cards was an offshoot of the book and became another way to repurpose information and generate additional income.
Since the information on how to start a business is the same, now I can reuse the deck of cards with a new brand, a new design and sell this to a completely different market.
Is there a part of your business that can be broken up to create a new product in another industry? What could be reused or even upgraded within your own business to create a new source of income?
surfing the wave
A great 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 getting ready now. I want to be ready when the wave of opportunity surges towards me. I hope that others will join me in this blue ocean and we can ride this wave together.