The COVID-19 pandemic has taken us all by surprise and the business landscape as we know it is changing rapidly. It is normal for us to feel stressed, worried, or overwhelmed, especially when it comes to our finances and growth of our business. During these times of uncertainty, what should we focus on?
In Japanese, the word “crisis” (危機) is in fact positive. The first character (危) means “dangerous” and the second (機) means “opportunity.” Although these are scary times, now is a time to plant seeds for change.
Current developments have sparked a massive shift in the global economy and as business owners it is now more important than ever to ask ourselves the right questions. Rather than dwelling on limitations outside our control or waiting for the world to return to “normal”, we need to pay attention to what we can control. To stay productive, we must strive to be more creative.
For some, this will mean revamping their current business model to comply with the new guidelines set out by Work Safe BC. For others, it is an opportunity to launch an entirely new business – a business that can thrive in and serve the “new” economy.
Starting a business or changing your business model is challenging. A key to moving ahead is asking the right questions. Start by asking problem solving questions. What does a Post-Coronavirus World look like? What services will be in demand? How has the supply chain fragmented? What does it mean for our economy to become self-sufficient and more localized? How can you maintain workplace efficiency and support your employees who now work from a home-based office, while simultaneously raising children who at the same time have web-based home schooling? Seniors in Canada are a segment of the population that is rapidly growing as we live longer and healthier lives than previous generations, how do we accommodate and support Canada’s aging demographic?
These are just a few examples of gaps that need to be filled through entrepreneurial ingenuity. Now is a time for us as entrepreneurs to shape the future of the business landscape. We are presented with an opportunity to widen our horizons. For entrepreneurs this means being aware of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and anticipate what the business environment may look like after. Therein lie immense possibilities to be of help to society as well as to serve our best interests.
Adaptability has always been a key for success in business, and keeping pace with technological change is more essential than ever. Personally, I have experienced this first-hand and capitalized on this opportunity in the accounting world. Digital apps have revolutionized bookkeeping for our clients and cloud-computing has made virtual-based workflow between our staff seamlessly more efficient. We educate our clients on how to be 100% cloud-based, increase administrative efficiency, while obtaining significantly more value from their accountant. This means value in the form of mobile access to their financials at any time, providing our clients with a clear overview of their financial position in real-time, and the ability to collaborate and share information with ease. In other words: first-class on-going customer service, clear and timely communication with our clients, and a quality final product.
By way of conclusion, I offer some thoughts that you may find useful.
- Digital transformation of your business model: The physical world of business is changing quickly and our ability to utilize technology is transforming industries, schools, as well as retail brick and mortar stores. The organizations that can adapt well will shift their business model to an online approach. Yes B.C. is now in phase 3 and we see many of our storefronts now reopen under new conditions. However, we still face the looming threat of another economic shutdown from a second wave of the pandemic or mutation of the novel coronavirus.
- Focus on employees and company talent: With staff working from home, organizations face a new spectrum of challenges. Firms will need to deal with employees as people and understand the hardships they too are facing during the pandemic. Mental health of staff must not be overlooked. Ask your employees what their needs are during this time. Acknowledge the emotions your employees are facing and focus on well-being. Encourage balance and flexibility with work hours and encourage days off so everyone can devote time to their mental and physical health.
- Leadership: Leadership will determine if you adapt well and create opportunities during crisis. We need to think in terms of a win-win approach with not only our customers, but also our staff. It is up to the organization’s leader to conduct positive change. To do so means that as a leader you must master the art exceptional decision making. The leader must navigate an environment filled with risk and uncertainty and most of all take decisive action for decisions on where to take the company. It is impossible to make the right decision every time. Sometimes we need to experiment so that we can adjust our approach to what works and know with more certainty what may not work.
Winston Churchill once said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” We must re-think our traditional ways and embrace the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has brought into being a new reality. As entrepreneurs, we must let go of limiting beliefs which inhibit our creativity and ability to adapt to change. This new reality calls for new conceptual maps; maps that will help us navigate unchartered waters full of challenges as well as opportunities for us as individuals and world citizens.