In the past two weeks, I tried to stop acting by inertia and fear. I looked at the problems I was going to face, and I had a lot of time to think who I was going to move things forwards. These are the steps I am taking and hoping most business will be able to use this information to run their business forward too.
1. Identify the risks
I had to understand that design and significant investments have now dried a fair bit. People are scared to spend because the economy has stopped (not entirely true! There is still investment happening, and some business are really thriving in this situation).
Most business will face similar risks:
Disruption: Social distancing and #stayhome will disrupt your business. Pubs and non-essential have closed their doors for now. Employees working from home find it difficult to get used to the new situation. Employers need to put in place new policies.
Demand drops: Consumer is scared and stops buying.
Unemployment: A lot of companies have lied off employers. Which means that more people without work slows down the economy even more.
Investment pull-back: Business stip spending. Projects are postponed or cancelled due to fear or for being obsolete.
Geopolitics, politics and economy-power changes: Some countries might get a smaller effect than others, we see Japan or South Korea getting through with minor impacts.
All these risks will have a specific impact on each of our business, and we need to plan together.
2. Develop tailored scenarios (flexible!)
We need to be prepared for what is coming. I know none of us has a crystal ball. Still, we can keep informed and speculate scenarios from the information we get from what is happening in different countries that are ahead of us and the actions of the government.
In general, the most spoken scenarios look like this, and we’ll have to understand that something in between will happen. Both scenarios aren’t optimistic, but we need to understand this information is the power to thrive not to depress ourselves.
The scenario 🌈 is the most optimistic. We would see a pretty harsh 2020, but recovery would be starting sooner. However, this would also mean potentially be seeing more deaths from vulnerable people.
The scenario 🌧 is pretty daunting as we see ourselves lockdown for pretty much all 2020. We see fewer deaths, but instead, we find ourselves in a deep recession. The growth is slower and starts later. This also has a lot of variables as we discover vaccines and new treatments.
Now I have given you the information to get excited and creative and build your scenarios for the future of the business. How the risks will be influenced. And most important, which opportunities will arise from these scenarios?
3. Revisit your business model
Checking our business model is something we should be doing this once a year, regardless of coronavirus. For many years we have been saying: “The world is changing”. What happened in the past few weeks is that this change had been fast-forwarded.
Now that we have the time, it would be useful to figure out what your business is going to look in 2021. Leaving 2020 to be helpful and accept that the priority is to save lives and get rid of the virus problem.
One way would be using a Business model canvas (Lean Canvas). You can get one from Google or download it from my Brand Bookshelf. Fill all the sections with honesty and questioning all the time.
When you have filled it out, ask the following questions:
- Is the problem you solving relevant now and in the future?
- Has your customer changed?
- Have the business values changed?
- Your Unique Value Proposition is still valid?
- Is your solution still the best?
- What channels will you use (continue investment in social?)
- Are your revenue streams feasible? Make sure you look at this closer.
- Costs. Will people pay for it? This might imply to look at your solution to, at least for now, you want to adequate your offering.
- Metrics might not change, but worth check.
- Your unfair advantage, if it’s your brand, you possibly still ok. Check!
4. Reimagine solutions for the future and for the time in between
Businesses will have to make a significant effort to imagine what is the world going to be in the future. We’ll have to be creative to get around the low-investment time that we are currently facing, without damaging our brands and future pricing.
Ways to do this is to check what are the trends coming and how will you fit on it. We see:
- Online E-commerce will strike hard.
- Teaching and DIY sites.
- Less face-to-face and more conference calls.
In the other side, what will happen to businesses that want to succeed is that they have to become brands. The human touch that brand projects will be necessary for customer loyalty. The customer will purchase for values and ideals. Competition for price won’t stand a chance if it ever did.
Build fast and brave
We have an opportunity that we have never had before. We are confined and have a lot of time in our hands. Turn off Netflix!
A business will have to be flexible and fast to adapt. This sounds scary, but if you are a small business or a one-person business, you can do it in one weekend. Like I did!
The other advantage is that your strategy can evolve as the needs change. And test and improve fast. So be brave and get creative!