How a business can survive in times of pandemic?
This is a question in the mind of some entrepreneurs during this season. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is one the world never anticipated how far the impact could reach. Although there have been other similar pandemics in the past —this took the world off guard.
However, this season is just a wake-up call for Christians entrepreneurs that as humans we can’t truly predict the future only God can. Proverbs says man proposes, but God disposes (TLB);
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”Proverb 19:21 (ESV)
As a result of the pandemic, many businesses are locked down as people are locked in. However, as a business owner, this is a time to start planning how your business can survive in this pandemic and beyond.
You must have heard things will not automatically go back to business as usual. And some customers’ needs will likely shift from one spectrum to another.
Unfortunately, this shift will affect some business survival. Nevertheless, businesses that are innovative can position themselves to survive in times like this.
There are 3 approach to survive in pandemic;
- Go back and evaluate your value proposition
- Identify risks, mitigate the impact
- No extensive planning
1. Go back and evaluate your value proposition
As a business owner, what value do you offer to customers that made them pay you? Is that value still relevant to the customers at this time?
First, you need to know if the value your business offer is still relevant to the customer especially if your business is still on lockdown. To ascertain that, you can use any of the 2 simple ways mentioned below;
- Ask your customers directly
- Monitor customers’ activities on social media
I Ask your customers directly:
if you have contact details of your customers(I hope you do), you can call or email them. But first, just check on how they are doing during this season, you need to ensure you genuinely care about their wellbeing after then you can bring in your business discussion.
For example, you can ask what they think of pre-ordering your product or service for a discount price. Here you are interested in those who wouldn’t order and their reasons, so urge them for honest feedback.
In doing this exercise, try to avoid sending out surveys to customers, because you barely get true opinions through that medium.
II Monitor customers’ activities on social media:
if your target customers are usually active on social media. Then, this is a time to pay closer attention to what they are saying, things they are interested in, and what they complain about. You might be lucky to gather some useful insights from there.
Is your value still relevant or not?
When you discover your value is till relevant to customers, then find ways to incorporate the current safety precautions in delivering your product or services to customers.
But If your value is no longer relevant to the customer then what do you do?
I must confess this is a tough one for any entrepreneur to face this season. However, as highly effective Christians, we are called to persevere in hard times.
“Be happy in your hope. Do not give up when trouble comes. Do not let anything stop you from praying.”Romans 12: 12(NLV)
In a season where your business needs to survive in times of pandemic, you and your team have to put on your thinking cap of innovation.
For example, if you offer tour packages for couples to travel abroad and you know most people will not be able or willing to travel outside their country for a while. So start looking at local destinations that meet couples’ needs —just because people can’t travel abroad doesn’t mean they don’t have the need to solve their boredom.
Therefore, innovate your value proposition to meet your customers’ needs within their comfortable boundaries.
Also, your thinking cap can lead you to pivot to a new business model, in the end, ensure you have an open mind to what your innovative ideas may lead you to.
2. Identify risks, mitigate the impact
When you come up with different innovative ideas, be ready to identify all possible risks associated with each idea. Proverbs says;
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.”Proverbs 27:24 (NIV)
The use of scenario planning is a useful tool to help you identify the best and worst possible case, anticipate possible reactions for each scenario.
Moreover, trying something new usually requires taking some risk, thus it’s impossible to avoid failure altogether. But, what is possible is to fail small to avoid failing big.
You can do this by identifying and validating the things that might go wrong from the start. it’s important to create room for asking tough questions and healthy criticisms of ideas generated.
For example, an idea of moving your cosmetic business online, some of the questions to answer could be; Do your target customers have reliable internet? Do you have a delivery service? Will this new model cater for your customers who like to try a product before purchase? Could it be improved?
These questions set a tone for you to fully understand all the possible risks associated with each idea and find ways to mitigate them.
3. No extensive planning
After you have identified the risks involved in your idea and how it can be mitigated. Next, it’s time for implementation, start first with a lot of testing to get customers feedbacks before full implementation.
Importantly, extensive planning doesn’t work in an uncertain and changing environment (times of pandemic). Instead, small, intentional experiments designed to validate or invalidate a solution or idea under real-world conditions allow you to learn what works and adapt more quickly.
The aim is to find ways to observe the real-world response to an idea rather than relying on assumptions. An initial test could be as simple as sketching your idea on a paper or create a prototype(low-fidelity) and showing it to your ideal customers and gauge their response.
The result of the feedback will enable you to decide whether to invest in implementing the idea or move on to another. So be willing to move on fast from one idea to the other that don’t meet the customers’ need.
Therefore, keep iterating and be agile, you either improve on the ideas based on the customers’ feedbacks or you try something new.
Takeaway: It’s true this kind of pandemic is novel, but even without pandemic some businesses go through rough times when there is a shift in customers’ need. Ideas shared in the article can be applied in any situation to help your business survive in times of pandemic and beyond.
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