The Covid-19 pandemic has posed relentless challenges for businesses, big and small. At the same time, it has also created opportunities for some businesses to take advantage of. “How long more will this last?” This is a question that no one has a definitive answer to, especially since the situation in every country seems to vary greatly. However, the more important question we need to ask is “How can we ensure business continuity beyond the Covid-19 crisis?” The answer to this seems to lead to a particular word: Pivot.
In my work as a business coach, thinking of creative pivot plans has been part of my daily activities for the last few months since this Covid-19 started to create business challenges in Singapore as I embarked on a mission to help as many businesses as possible during this time.
While I have to acknowledge that the challenges may be greater for certain industries like travel and tourism, there are still a lot of strategies we can implement for successful pivot plans for businesses to ensure they don’t just survive, but thrive beyond the crisis. For a pivot plan to work though, it does require a willingness to change, openness to ideas, and a discipline in the implementation. Additionally, it requires the business leader to have a way to test and measure the strategies.
After running a few workshops for business owners who want to learn how to pivot at this time and helping a number of them refocus their efforts in the right areas, I decided to write this article to spark some ideas for business leaders who need them. There are probably many areas where your business needs to change and adapt, but I am going to focus on 5 key ones that you would want to look at first.
Products & Services
Look at your current products & services. Think about the next 90 days, and think about the long haul. Do your products & services need to be adjusted or do you need to expand the range of what you offer? One of my friends’ family business was manufacturing general cleaning chemicals. They pivoted quickly when the crisis was just budding to manufacturing hand sanitisers and they managed to keep the company afloat. In another story, a digital marketing agency pivoted to doing online digital marketing courses that will continue generating income for them long after the crisis is over.
What about you? What adjustments will you make to your products and services?
For some others, your products and services may still be relevant, but you may have to tweak your delivery channels. If you still have no virtual presence yet, maybe it is a good time for you to look into that. I saw a Chinese language centre for children conducting their classes online with all the cute little animation tools that the digital platform can provide. Their classes are fully booked for weeks in advance! In another story, restaurants are now offering curbside pickup and home delivery services.
What other delivery methods come to your mind? Which ones are relevant to your business?
Marketing Channels & Message
Firstly, if you have not gone virtual yet, now is the time. There are companies helping businesses develop their E-commerce presence with government funding covering a chunk of the costs. One of the T-Shirt wholesalers that I personally know finally decided to set up their online shop with Shopee and that generated a much-needed sales volume during this time as the wholesale centre was not allowed to operate.
Your marketing message may need to change too. At this moment, people respond to a note of compassion, positivity, and hope. Fun and laughter will be useful too. Ensure your marketing message has an uplifting or entertaining effect.
Can you come up with a creative marketing idea that is appropriate right now?
Cash Flow Management
Being in Singapore, we really are quite fortunate that the government is trying their best to support businesses who may suffer from cash flow issues due to the Circuit Breaker measures. All the more, do look into your numbers, how many more months are you able to keep going if sales continue to be slower?
What are the funding support schemes that you can tap on? Do you need to get a short term financing for your business expenses for the time being? Make sure that you focus on spending only on things that will generate more revenue for the time being and postpone what you can to a time when the cash flow is more predictable.
Which of the expenses should be reduced right now and which should have more budget allocated to it?
The last in this list is your people strategy. For quite a number of businesses, this is one of their biggest cost centres. Please note that at this time, you need to increase the frequency of your communication with your people and maintain or step up your engagement with them. See if there is a need to adjust their roles at this moment so that some of them can help you generate sales instead of being a cost centre.
It is crucial for the business’ continuity that your employees are engaged and actively taking ownership to help the business.
How can you maintain that level of communication and build their engagement at the same time?
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. In our online workshops on this topic we cover 12 different areas where companies may need to look into a pivot plan. But if you get these five right, you should at least be able to increase your chances for business survival and continuity quite significantly.
If you have any questions on this topic or if you have more creative ideas for pivoting based on your own business or other businesses that you observe in the market, please do write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you and generate some creative angles too.
In the meantime, please do take care and stay strong!
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