Osnat Peled- BWFR President
Breaking news! We have a situation, we know, the coronavirus is here, the markets are slowing down rapidly and a financial crisis is knocking on the door…But the real breaking news is that we will pass this period and we will remain here. Yes, humanity will pass this crisis (too!). Nevertheless, the smart business people, will not only pass the moment of crisis, but will also find the right ways to leverage these challenging times and create growth. How? History is full of examples of companies, who were fast and flexible enough to recognize when a crisis is approaching, with a great and brilliant way to enjoy this crisis for their benefits, so that when the crisis ended, they not only kept their activity but some of them generated growth for years after that.
From crisis to growth (and during the crisis!)
Although some flights are canceled, hotels are struggling, large events are in a big question mark and people don't have the pleasure of spending money on luxury goods, managing your company during a crisis is all about finding the possibilities that lie before you, rather than focusing on the unknown.
When identifying the proper way for your company to benefit from such challenging times, focusing on the needs of your clients these days, without the necessity to re-invent yourself or change your business domain, is simply about identifying the right opportunities for this unique moment. Where brilliant minds are choosing to move ahead and leverage the situation for their clients and company benefit, the mindset, therefore, needs to be changed into – finding the opportunity. It’s easy to see who will be the first ones to benefit directly from the current corona crisis – manufacturers of masks, factories of medical sanitizers or canned food goods, producers of toilet paper, etc…they are already benefiting well from our panic. However, besides the essential needs, we will start seeing new needs, requests for solutions and services that companies and individuals demand when facing a challenge. Finding them will gain the right leverage for your company. Let’s see some practical examples:
In challenging financial times, people don’t usually buy new electronics or cars, therefore, they will acquire more “urgent services” like repair services for parts of cars and other home appliances. At this critical time, companies will allow more employees to work remotely. This will generate growth for the telecommunication industry as they acquire more internet and communication services (which will cover their losses on the challenging sales of mobile phones due to the China blockage). When people can’t meet, a good solution can be the online video conference technologies (such as ZOOM, WhatsApp and others) that will enjoy the growing needs of B2B who cannot attend the face-to-face meetings and are now forced to meet via video.
In case of schools to be closed for a short time and staff will work remotely, the entire courier sector will experience a huge rise (which is seen already in other countries around the world) – this will be the golden moment for Food Panda, Glovo, Bringo, UBER EATS and all the home delivery companies. This may be also your moment to join the game and offer deliveries as well. All of these are only a few examples of how you can identify the right opportunities for your business.
The rise of e-commerce and social media
Of course, since many people will spend more time at home, connected to their mobiles and following closely the info on the social media channels (which provides a combination of news and communication with a network of friends) the current crisis will generate growth for Facebook/ Instagram and others, to experience growth as marketers seek to increase exposure and reach higher demands.
We've seen many companies already requesting to raise their social media advertising budgets, providing similar services and products and generating nice conversion rates. E-commerce will bloom, exactly as Alibaba had grown due to the SARS virus that stroke in 2003, serving thousands of new orders every day since no one could enter China. Before 2003, Alibaba was just a growing company, but at this time alone the crisis produced them an impressive 50 percent growth.
What can you do?
Working in two dimensions will keep your company up and running. In challenging times, it is important to first develop the right plan to sustain your business while the crisis is happening, building a reasonable cash flow with the help of your accountant can help you a lot in identifying ways to cope with the uncertainties and cut some of the costs. Keep in mind the duration of the crisis: how long will that be? Probably 1-2 months and how can you sustain your company without making dramatic changes (such as avoiding the cut in employees). Being pragmatic will allow you to short-term build the "sustainability strategy". On the long run, this period is the best one for your development, YES, IT IS!
This is the perfect moment to create new opportunities for your business, a growth plan that can bring growth and prosperity amid this crisis. This plan must include many elements that are vital to the growth of your company - do not interrupt your marketing efforts, in reality, this is exactly the time to expand them, especially in the digital media, as more potential clients will be there these days. These steps will place you in a better position at the moment when the crisis is finished and all the other companies will only start to come back…your position will be “on the move” already, with prospects clients ready to move ahead since you prepare them on time. Investing in training and development for your staff is another move you should think right now when you have a little more time to invest in manpower and get ready to "strike" new tools, techniques, methods, and know-how in a few weeks. Acquiring webinars and building marketing strategies to get started soon will cost you less and gain you the needed advantage in a few weeks to come.
Do not hold your HR plans, as it will strike you once companies will be back at work. Instead of that, see the crisis as the right moment to switch to a remote working system - this is something many companies have planned to do before. The current challenges might ”push” you to do that and you may be surprised to find out that this can save you money and almost instantly increase production.
What's certain, is the crises will eventually end. How you will get through it? Being upset, halting your activities or setting back great plans, will not help you when all this will have ended. The only way to guarantee your growth is to stand straight, think creatively, continue your investment in growth and move forward. This is up to you and fully in your hands.
About the writer:
Osnat Peled is president of BWFR (Business Women Forum Romania) a 5000-member community of businesswomen and Managing Partner at Mentor Capital & Business Advisory, having 20 years of entrepreneurial and managerial experience, currently managing MCBA EBO the social media digital company within the group.