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Although Stage 5 lock-down is due to end next week, our transition back to ‘normal’ life will be incremental and is at this stage, unclear. The economy will not switch back on automatically, and you are unlikely to find your position in the market unchanged.

Government has detailed the creation of an alert system with five levels of restriction, where all sectors and companies will know what kind of activity is allowed depending on the level that is live at that time.

With a variety of controls and restrictive measures in place in the months ahead, there is a need to be flexible in our thinking and responsive in our actions.

How will your business survive (and even thrive), in these conditions?

Start with what you have

Most companies will not be able to easily transition to a purely online way of working.

So what are the core skills that your business and its people have, which could be utilised in a different way? If you let go of the boundaries of the current situation, if financial constraints or situational adversity were not present, how else could you deploy your businesses abilities? 

How could you adjust your product, your delivery mechanism or your target audience in order to still be functional? The people within your company may well be keen to assist, and getting together to think about how else you might be doing business will be a valuable exercise.

Brainstorming, especially online, is a skill, and there are a few guidelines in order to get the most out of a meeting.

If repositioning and adjusting the trajectory of your business is something you need help with, then get in touch – our experience is based in facilitating and adding knowledge and perspective to these sessions in order for you to succeed.

By looking at things through a different lens, you may be able to discover a fresh angle to explore.

You’re still here, so say hello

Remember that people have been as affected by Covid-19 as you have, so communicate with empathy. Rather than leading with news about the virus that people are more than likely already aware of, think about how your business might offer valuable insights which are unique to what you do. Is there something you could do to make future lock-downs easier for your customers to deal with? 

Companies are responding in all kinds of ways to stay in touch with their customers – the UK based movie experience company Secret Cinema, have moved their viewing nights online – in partnership with Haagen Daz creating an experience which can be shared worldwide. Captain Fantastic, a children’s party company has transitioned their previously in-person-only business to Facebook, where they now host live events every week. &beyond have launched virtual game drives, Simon Sinek has started a book club, and the local swimwear brand Granadilla Swim has created an online food delivery business which supports small business and farms by getting veggies delivered to your door.

By reaching out to your current and potential customers in innovative ways, you’ll keep your business top of mind and create a smaller gap to be bridged later when the market goes live again.

Ask yourself

Your existing customers have not disappeared – they are at home, in the same situation as you are. What do they need from you during this time, and what might they need from you soon?

Take an outsider’s perspective, and think about how your business is perceived and what it offers.

What does your brand stand for? Why do you exist and who do you serve? What opportunities does that offer up to you?

What does your online presence say to people who have no other way to access you right now? Is there a new set of customers that have been inadvertently created for you as a result of these restrictions? If it all seems impossible, could you creatively collaborate with another company to get your product to market? Like Häagen-Dazs and Granadilla are there people you could collaborate with to make something that is relevant and of value right now? People are very open to new ideas right now.

Innovative income

Our instinct may be to hunker down now, but there is still an opportunity to keep finances afloat while we are sheltering in place.

Could you create deals for your customers? Could you restructure how you charge for your services in order to make things more palatable for people during this time?

Could you offer incentives and discounts to help your business stay relevant in the current market and remain closer to customers?

Could you sell vouchers now, to be used in the future? Could you offer a virtual service?

Many people are looking for ways to support local business, and you can make it easy for them.

By making your business more appealing and less expensive at this time, people will be encouraged to engage and less likely to move away from you later.

What are your next steps:

  1. Waiting this out is not a strategy. You need to take some action
  2. Think about the skills you have and how you can utilise them in a different way – including your team for a bigger range of perspectives
  3. Don’t go silent – communicate with intention to your existing and potential customers
  4. Look at alternate ways to generate income
  5. Move fast – to make changes, and to trial their efficacy

It’s a real challenge to not become frozen in place, and also to not be swept away by an onslaught of doomy predictions. Our tenacity and our ability to keep going is something that makes us special as human beings, and as South Africans.

We’re in this together, and by each doing our best with our businesses and lines of work, we create opportunity for a network of other companies and human beings to keep going.

Read Thought 03: What you put in — they will take out the other side –>

This article is an expansion of Thought 02 from Finding North (again). Finding North (again) contains 10 thoughts to help you define your approach to the shift that Coronavirus has brought. Download it here.

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