Photo of Parklet by Viva Vancouver
We’ve been there: we’ve started companies and been a contributor to others. We’ve had to reimagine the future as market trends have eroded our approach and rendered products obsolete. Even with that history and experience, the 2020 pandemic turned it all on its head.
Will we rise from the ashes of the pandemic and resume where we were before? How should we jump into 2021?
For starters, it’s not going to be like it was before. The pandemic changed everything, some for good, some not as good. The COVID-19 crisis brought about changes in the way we do business. Companies have accelerated the use of technology for customer and supply chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years. Much more quickly than many thought possible. Trends indicate that these changes are ongoing and will be long lasting.
Focusing on the future and determining how to grow your business in this new normal takes a little soul searching and a hard look at 2020. How was your company affected by the pandemic stay-at-home, work remotely developments? Were you able to manage working remotely? Is your business dependent on on-site clients in which case you may have been prohibited from serving them as you have in the past?
If you own a restaurant or have a storefront presence what do you offer that has motivated consumers to buy from you? Consumers have many choices. Before COVID you may have based your success on location. You were in the busy downtown corridor in a major metropolitan area amid the lucrative lunch crowd. Or perhaps on Main Street in a medium sized community at a crossroads between cities, a stopover for many directions.
Then the COVID lockdown occurred and your business storefront was forced to close either by regulation or from lack of customers. The downtown corridor became a ghost town. Main Street in the crossroads was deserted.
What now? This is your livelihood, the livelihood of your employees. Many restaurant owners jumped to offer takeout orders to continue paying their employees and do a few sales. If the location was the main attraction for the success of your business, what could you do to encourage your former customers and new customers to buy from you now when they were no longer in your proximity?
Crises are Adrenaline for Innovation
As McKinsey wrote in a March 18, 2021 article on Innovation, crises are adrenaline for innovation. The forced closing of indoor service at your restaurant was and is a crisis. The need to make quick decisions in times of uncertainty resurrects creativity. It’s time to embrace the opportunity to discover fresh solutions.
Research indicates that bold decision makers merge from the ashes to rise ahead of their peers and maintain that competitive advantage for years to come.
Many businesses – like the restaurants in urban areas and country crossroads, came up with innovative ways to stay in business and serve up something unique and accessible for their customers.
Some changed the menu and distribution to make meals for needy families. Some took the restaurant to the customer, creating pop-ups to serve favorite meals.
In other cities, restaurants created parklets for outdoor seating. Owners say that business was at best 50% of pre-COVID, but they were able to keep many employees and offer the meals their loyal customers craved – and needed for comfort – during a turbulent year.
What about your business? How are you coping with crisis management? You’d like it to be like it was but as former CEO of Cisco Systems John Chambers said, you need to deal with the world the way it is, not the way you want it.
This is your opportunity to pivot your business and innovate. There will never be a better time.
McKinsey and Company, “How Covid19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point and transformed business forever”, October 5, 2020
McKinsey and Company, Strategy and Corporate Finance, Innovation: Your Launch Pad out of the COVID-19 Crisis, March 18, 2021,