Treating the chaos as a rich source of opportunity
While the slight relaxation of lockdown conditions comes amidst “creeping despondency of operating in a market that shows no signs of returning to buoyant times”; it also presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs to build anew. One way to achieve this is in finding and creating what may have previously been considered as unorthodox or out of the box business partnerships and diversifications. Admittedly this may be challenging for the average business as it means you have to give up so much of what made your company what it is today.
However, according to Ed Hatton of The Marketing Director, “smart businesses built a culture of flexibility, of individual accountability, short communication lines and delegated authority. They innovate, watch trends in their industry like hawks and have swift reactions.” Agility and innovation as tools of survival are perhaps more essential than ever before.
Below are a few practical suggestions to consider:
Provide an essential service
Consider ways in which you can provide an essential service; one that is currently in demand or will be in demand owing to the impact of the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Keep in mind that you are trying to re-enter an economy where the potential customers have been financially compromised. Meaning you need to “focus your efforts on the most productive areas; the data about which those are is right there in your sales records – use it. Even in very bad times some sectors and business types grow strongly. Seek them out, understand their needs and then if you can address these needs devise and run a powerful campaign. Beware of staying in your comforts zone. That could be the riskiest thing you can do right now” Ed Hatton of The Marketing Director.
Partnering with online service providers
Redirect funds towards employee skills development in digitalization skills, creating social value stream and collaborations. This can be made accessible during these remote times by partnering with a host of online service providers.
An example of the above is partnering with an online service provider to upskill as many of your employees as possible in the field of digital marketing. Because when the lockdown does lift in earnest a great deal of marketing to bring back old as well as attract new customers is going to be essential.
Leverage your community, customers and supplier base
Start thinking about your community, customers and supplier as possible business partners. Organisations need to continuously communicate with the customers to know what their needs are as they are constantly changing. Consumers are also in a constant state of adaptation as this is not the kind of disruption most were prepared for.
So in being responsive to that a number of ad-hoc partnerships maybe necessary. An example of this is the SPAR in Plettenberg and KWIKSPAR in Bay The Beacon Isle offering shelf space to small local businesses who have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 induced shutdown. This is useful in stances were it was not feasible for restaurants to open as they would not be able to maintain operating costs on the profits generated from deliveries, as permitted under the level 4 lockdown conditions. The social capital generated by these actions is valuable in generating goodwill amongst community members and incentivising their purchasing at the stores.
Import/Exports as a viable option
Frieda – Marie De Jager from Import/Export License says that people think they can’t be importers or exporters because they are in another line of business. What we know from having been through a recession before is that the safest way to ensure a regular income in bad financial times is to have multiple streams of income in place. A lot of our client have generated successful side businesses by importing goods and selling it online while also working fulltime, or by approaching other businesses to sell on consignment. Meaning to say, starting a new venture or collaboration doesn’t have to be a complicated or full-time thing.
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