The Covid-19 pandemic has been so catastrophic to businesses that it almost over-qualifies as a crisis. At the same time, it presents us with the opportunity to understand what a business under threat needs to do in order to survive.
Every business is, of course, a little different. Every situation is a little different. But the dynamic that governs the survival of each business is exactly the same. Right now most businesses across the globe are facing the exact same issue: survival in the face of a shutdown that threatens their existence and may well change the market place forever.
How you handle all this depends on three specific things:
- Communication – how you cope with the stress of home working when your job may not survive the pandemic. How you communicate the fears and uncertainties that besiege you and how you then share your thoughts, plans and ideas.
- Leadership – without human, compassionate and understanding leadership to keep everyone calm, focused and functioning surviving a crisis becomes exponentially harder.
- Coordination – without careful coordination of effort, actions and ideas it becomes really difficult to get any kind of momentum going in any action required to help you survive a crisis.
Assuming that a business realizes in time the magnitude of the threat before it and then puts into place the three requirements it needs in order to survive there is still the question of what exactly should it do in order to survive the crisis?
Again there are three specific things every business needs to look at if it is to successfully pivot in a crisis that threatens to wipe it out:
- Understand your core strength. Every business is good at more than one thing. However, there is usually one thing in particular every business is great at. Amazon, for example, which is great at selling almost anything is only absolutely brilliant in one core thing delivering merchandise. Its core strength is the logistics of its chain from supplier to customer. American Airlines, Delta and United are great at getting goods, business people and holiday makers to their destinations. Their true core strength is flying.
- Determine how your core strength can be adapted. Amazon, in this pandemic, it has curtailed the selling of many items (such as books and toys) which give the company profit and it has focused its entire energy at delivering essentials like food and other essential items, to those who are trapped inside their homes in the coronavirus lockdown, as fast as possible. American Airlines, Delta and United have pivoted to cargo flights now that their people ferrying business is on hold.
- Spot the fresh opportunities opening up. The current crisis means that the status quo that usually keeps markets locked into position because of inertia no longer applies. Suddenly everyone is looking around hoping to find new partnerships and try out fresh possibilities that will help them weather this storm. To find the opportunities right for you, you need to have the first three requirements (Communication, Leadership and Coordination) locked tight in your company. This will allow you to be creative in your thinking and innovative in your approach as you seek to broaden the horizon of your business.
There are no guarantees. Uncertainty is always there, though there are techniques you can apply to mitigate its effects. There is an undeniable fluidity at play right now that reflects the novelty of this crisis. Undeniably, also, there are new opportunities opening up. The only sure thing is that by putting a plan of action in place and then following it through you are giving yourself and your business the best chance possible.