Lisa Balter Saacks, Chief Revenue Officer at Chimney Vigor Group
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, many businesses were completely ill-prepared to handle the initial fallout.
Businesses had to adapt — and adapt quickly. They had to seek innovative ways to deliver their products and services to their customers, and some, already more attuned to a stay-at-home environment, thrived. E-commerce exploded. Companies that were already utilizing digital technologies and online platforms to offer their services had the advantage over those just figuring it out.
So, as we emerge into a world post-Covid-19, we’re getting a measure of where we’re at. Those businesses who have clung on these last 18 months are just picking up the pieces, some are diversifying, with mixed results, and some are thriving. Whatever their position, the topic on all business owners’ minds right now is: How do we develop and grow our businesses in a post-pandemic world?
Developing Your Business Post-Covid-19
People often quote the idiom that history repeats itself. What they miss, however, is the context. It doesn’t happen as a matter of course. The reason history repeats itself is that memories are short. Many don’t learn from past mistakes nor actively make changes to prevent or protect themselves from the same thing happening again.
In this context, it’s important to embrace the things that Covid-19 laid bare, strategize how to use this information to your advantage and apply it moving forward to develop your business. Take the hospitality industry, for example. Many restaurants were heavily affected by the closures caused by the pandemic. As a result, these businesses had to adapt and play to their strengths. As well as creating contactless delivery systems, offering meal boxes and take-outs, some figured out ways to bottle and sell their specialty items like sauces, seasonings and rubs. Little did they know they were moving into untapped markets they could utilize and profit from long after the pandemic is over. By being forced to adapt and overcome, adding a dash of creativity and ingenuity, many businesses have now set themselves up for further success and growth in the years to come.
A Strong Organizational Immune System
Ingenuity is one way forward, but to sustain growth and push for further success, building a strong organizational immune system that is resilient to market changes is essential. If you plan for resilience, then your business will be more prepared for fluctuations in the market. But how do you define a strong immune system in business? Companies that can identify minor issues before they develop, fix them and learn from them by building preventative strategies moving forward would be considered as having strong organizational immune systems.
Furthermore, business leaders who periodically check in with their employees to ensure they are in a good head space will increase worker happiness and productivity as well as the company’s overall resilience. An invested employee, not simply financially, but in their sense of worth, in appreciation and in consideration for their health and well-being, fuels commitment to the business as a whole. Checking in with your workers post-pandemic is critical because the Covid-19 virus brought not only physical health issues to millions of people but also mental health issues that have long-lasting effects. Remember that everything is interconnected; your employees’ mental health and resulting behavior will affect your customers and business.
E-Commerce Is King
Perhaps the biggest shift in business prompted by the pandemic is realizing that, more than ever before, e-commerce is king. Covid-19 accelerated the shift to online selling and forced businesses into e-commerce markets so that they could continue to generate revenue, even grow, during the pandemic. Although many business leaders may think it unnecessary, or even feel pressured to shift to e-commerce, perhaps fearful of the initial outlay to get going and keep their websites current, it is a booming market that will see those entering that space benefitting long after the pandemic.
Moreover, in a post-Covid-19 world, the convenience, safety and efficiency that online shopping offered people during the pandemic will stick around. Indeed, it’s even opened up the consumer market as more and more people are turning online for their needs. Therefore, e-commerce holds promising opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses looking to grow; it is not just for the giants like Amazon, eBay or Walmart anymore.
But that, too, prompts another key observation. As the e-consumer base increases, so their needs and priorities broaden. More and more consumers are turning away from the corporate giants, looking for smaller, local companies that practice sustainable values and who offer local or artisan products. In a recent study, nearly 70% of consumer respondents thought it was important to support sustainable or eco-friendly brands over other retailers.
Businesses of all sizes should take note of this shift to sustainable production values. Depending on your business, sustainable production values could mean anything from including your team members remotely instead of flying them out to a location or requiring them in the office, or sending the weekly schedule in an email or online scheduling platform instead of a paper copy. These small changes to how we run our businesses can have massive positive long-term effects on the environment and gain us new clientele who support sustainable practices.
The Covid-19 pandemic has not only made it very challenging for many businesses to survive but has brought to light many ways that companies could do better moving forward. Once a challenging time is over, people often like to forget about what happened and “start fresh,” or fall back to past practices. However, moving into a post-pandemic world, business owners need to utilize what they learned from Covid-19 and apply it to build strong organizational immune systems that can withstand market fluctuations. By creating a plan for resilience, fixing problems before they develop and checking in with employees, consumers and clients alike, businesses will be able to develop further in a post-pandemic world. Furthermore, it became apparent that tools like e-commerce and sustainable production values were critical in providing services efficiently and conveniently and gaining new clientele moving forward.