Tom put his business into hibernation and furloughed all his staff. He expects the worst, and is anxious and paralysed by feelings of dread, despair, and defeat. His thought process is firmly on survival and not very much else besides that. He views COVID-19 as a complete disaster and has battened down the hatches hoping that as things return to normal, he can reboot his business and, over time, climb his way out of these bad times – maybe!
Are you Tom? Are you trapped by your pre-COVID thinking and are finding it difficult to move on? If it is, you should know that how you react to the COVID storm depends on how you see it. To help Tom a little knowledge and encouragement may be useful to kickstart his thinking and actions into more than hibernation and hope and enable him to move into a more productive state. Many great competitive positions have been established in a downturn. The opportunity is to use the characteristics of the COVID and post-COVID business environment to gain a lasting competitive advantage over your competitors.
I bumped into Tom last week – well sort of, if you call meeting someone and maintaining a respectable social distance and glass pane between us as the new definition of bumping into someone. Having listened empathically to understand Tom’s fearfulness and helplessness, I responded to his cry of help with some age-old and proven strategies for weathering a downturn and, almost certainly, a coming recession. Tom, no times are more difficult for the survival of a company than recessions. Yet, as the past recession proved, in a crisis there is opportunity. So if you want your company to survive you must come out of hibernation and begin to navigate and steer yourself and your business through the COVID storm. If you make the appropriate moves to put your house in order, cut costs, increase flexibility, and where necessary change your previous ways of doing business then you can survive and adapt to this new environment.
Adapting puts you in a position to thrive by acting to research trends and data to better understand your customers’ new needs, and supply solutions to those needs better than your competition. Continue with this externally-focused action – think beyond cost reductions. Focus your efforts on increasing and reinforcing the loyalty of your current customers, price intelligently, use your strengths to renew your product offering, and explore the possibility of pivoting to provide new products to meet new needs. Increase your market coverage, new customers are out there for the taking. Look for and exploit the opportunities.
Build a new Business Model and strategy that works for your company. See this time as an opportunity to grow your company. But Tom to come out of your hibernation to do this, you must be willing to step up as a leader, focus on solutions, and find new ways to be serving your customers. Be positive and focus on what you can control. Take a deep breath. Decide and make it happen.
Oh – and Tom this may be a good time to move on that acquisition you were thinking about at the beginning of the year…