The coronavirus pandemic has thrown business models – and their shortcomings – into the spotlight. These crucial business tips will help your firm thrive, despite the economic climate.
From the outset of the novel coronavirus, business operations and systems have had to change drastically all over the world. Many enterprises have had to redefine or review client needs; moreover, it has become necessary to modify business models and operations to suit the present situation.
Businesses can no longer operate the way they used to. There’s even speculation that, during this pandemic, enterprises may adopt new models that they will stick to long after the pandemic is over.
Perhaps, you’re here because you want to learn how to improve the way you run your business during this pandemic but don’t know the best strategies to employ. Below are 7 business tips to learn from the novel coronavirus that can help you achieve your corporate goals.
#1 Businesses Should Develop a Strong Data-Driven Forecast Model
Many companies, especially production-based companies, would have adjusted their mode of operations had they foreseen the coronavirus pandemic looming. Unfortunately, the disease lurked in, and many organisations are paying the price in the massive losses they incur.
A job loss report on CNBC showed the number of jobs lost by workers in several industries across the US in March alone. Topping the list was leisure and hospitality, which includes the foodservice industry, with about 459,000 job losses.
Other industries with massive job losses in their thousands include healthcare, retail trade, manufacturing, professional and business services, mining and logging, and so on. However, it is good to know that the US government added about 12,000 jobs in March.
Although some have termed the pandemic as a ‘black swan’ event, experts have long predicted the rise of a novel virus, which could massively disrupt society as we know it. If industries had foreseen the coronavirus pandemic, they would have braced themselves for a massive hit. Moreover, they could have proposed solutions that would have helped to minimise the impact on workers, the business, and their customers.
A good forecast model, such as Epi-brain by WHO, will use AI and data analysis to predict future pandemics. It will draw data from both the human and animal populations, as well as the likely triggers of a pandemic, to predict a disease outbreak in the future.
The declaration of the lockdown of operations and services – excluding essential services – has its largest effect on the foodservice industry, and this is mostly because food is perishable. Imagine the amount of food that would expire in stores that are not allowed to operate because of the lockdown.
A data-driven prediction of a pandemic would have hinted that food industries and retailers should produce less and be more involved in other revenue streams.
#2 Businesses Must Learn to Think Innovatively
In the business world, innovation is always important – but never more so than now. In the wake of the coronavirus, one of the more important business tips is to get creative, if businesses are to weather the storm and stay afloat.
One example of innovative thinking is outlined in an article on Forbes. The feature explores Evil Genius, a small-scale microbrewery that distributes to over 35,000 outlets across the US. Up until now, Evil Genius has attributed two-thirds of its total revenue from beer sold by its distributors – distributors who, sadly, have been negatively impacted by the lockdown, resulting in a need to shift gears.
Not one to bury their heads and give up, Evil Genius instead chose to roll with the punches, turning its focus to takeouts, online orders, and delivery to ensure a steady stream of beer sales.
The company also titled its beer products with unique names that often play on pop culture references. Although this has always been a core part of their strategy, Evil Genius has taken their viral marketing to a whole new level in response to the coronavirus, using this fun and innovative technique to drive more sales during the ongoing pandemic.
One of their most recent beers (‘Felt Cute, Might Feed My Husband to a Tiger IDK’) draws inspiration from the Netflix quarantine smash hit Tiger King. Another – very timely option – took its name from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (‘The Gang Gets Quarantined’) and comes with a free roll of toilet paper with every purchase – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the recent cases of mass panic-buying.
The results were astonishing, with newspapers and radio stations picking up the story, both at home and abroad. Recognising the immense power of social media – especially at a time when everyone was bored and locked down at home – the team began posting more and more often on their various platforms. At one point, the company even managed to amass around 140,000 engagements on a single Facebook post.
#3 Businesses Should Demonstrate Care for Employees and Customers
It may be hard to believe that customers are looking out for services that are loyal to them. However, one of the key indicators of loyalty that customers look out for is the level of care and concern that these services have for their employees and customers, especially during trying and confusing times.
In the same Forbes article exploring Evil Genius’s success, it was clear that the little company did their best to ensure that both their employees and customers were well catered for, even if they, regrettably, had to lay some workers off.
The company organised a GoFundMe page that featured a ‘Virtual Tip Jar’. They used the gathered funds to distribute USD 500 to every one of those workers who had been laid off. Evil Genius also successfully subscribed to the US government’s Paycheck Protection Program for the benefit of its employees.
What’s more, the company ensured that it complied with environmentally-friendly rules while operating the brewery. One other act of care that the microbrewery business showed was engaging in charity for the poor by collecting food and clothing donations and engaging in walkathons.
To further encourage safety during the coronavirus pandemic, Evil Genius even modified its logo to say ‘Stay Home’ to encourage its customers to comply with safety rules. It also added instructions on its Facebook page for customers who often come for pick-up, which included the following:
• Takeout only, feel free to just walk in
• Facemasks required by law
• Wash your hands
• Be good to one another
• Don’t forget to call your mum
• We love you all
Some of the instructions are entertaining, no doubt, but they have the added bonus of helping customers feel genuinely cared for. One of the most crucial business tips is to show authenticity in your brand’s empathy for the community it interacts with. Businesses that want to scale up, both during this pandemic and when everything becomes normal again, must learn how to show care to their customers and employees.
#4 Businesses Should Use Social Media More Often
A comprehensive report on the use of media on Statista covers trends in social media engagement due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown declaration. Unsurprisingly, the stats reported a significant increase in social media engagement all over the world. One of the easier-to-implement business tips, social media can give your firm a hefty boost in brand awareness and sales.
For instance, 67% of Internet users were recorded to have engaged in watching more news coverage; 51% watched more TV shows on streaming services, such as Netflix; 45% spent more time on messaging services, including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger; and 44% spent more time on social media.
Recently, social media platforms have been flooded with huge amounts of content to keep users busy. There are more than enough comedy skits to keep people laughing all day, daily and weekly challenges to keep people engaged while staying at home, and lots more.
At times like these, businesses ought to take full advantage of consumers’ accentuated focus on social media to advertise their brand. And if they want their advertising to be effective, they’d better get creative.
#5 Businesses Should Bring the Work-From-Home Setup a Notch Higher
Since the outset of COVID-19, working from home has become an inevitable part of business operations as companies worldwide scramble to adapt to a new normal. Without the rigour of a strict routine and work-based environment, many have found their productivity to be negatively impacted, thanks to the multitude of distractions and temptations that come with working from home.
To ensure a greater level of productivity, it is essential that companies provide the necessary work-from-home tools to help employees stay focused and effective. As one of the business tips that will have the greatest impact on streamlining operations, increasing employees’ capacity to work from home will improve overall productivity, and possibly company morale, especially since COVID-19 is likely to reoccur in waves. While there are several tools on the market that can help you and your employees make the most out of working from home, it’s time trackers that may prove the most vital during this pandemic.
Time trackers used alongside other business management tools will help your remote employees stay focused and efficient. A good time tracking app will help you monitor the activities of your work-from-home employees in real-time so that you’ll be able to address burgeoning issues before they become a problem.
#6 Businesses Should Work with Experts
During unprecedented circumstances like these, it is expected that many companies may be unsure about what steps to take next. In such instances, companies may come to realise that they need expert help if they are to accomplish their goals during the pandemic. Michael Davies, CEO of Continuity SA Pty Ltd, wrote about COVID-19 business lessons on BCI, stating that companies today should work with experts more than ever before.
According to Davies, business continuity plans, in particular, can only be handled by specialists, making it essential that you work with them, especially at times like these.
Regardless of the current climate, however, it’s important to seek expert advice as they can offer a historical, 360-degree perspective on your business, and are able to provide the expertise that you or your team lack.
#7 Businesses Should Get Involved in the Digital Space
One sure impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have on many industries is the diversion towards technology-driven solutions. With the advent of innovative tools such as RPA, AI, cognitive computing, and machine learning, companies will need fewer humans and more computers to do their work.
A New York Times article detailing the impact of tech on businesses in the coronavirus pandemic shows how giant tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon are continuing to record massive progress, despite the general decline in businesses growth worldwide.
The same article showed that many other businesses are also turning their attention to digital solutions to scale their businesses. Even when the pandemic is long gone, companies will likely stick to digital solutions, which are faster, more accurate, and cost-effective than current practices.
As you can see, these business tips teach business owners to be resilient enough to thrive in hard times. It’s a call to creative thinking, innovation, and better strategies. Companies with the will to survive and seek the right counsel will likely make it through this pandemic and stay relevant once we transition into the ‘new normal’.