Harmony Seyram Attise’s thoughts … Focusing on the lessons – what the pandemic is teaching entrepreneurs

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2020, a year many entrepreneurs won’t forget on a fly. The struggles and losses cut across with no regard for the small, medium, or big brands. The global crisis is real – forcing business owners to rise to the challenge. The daily pursuance of business success is an endeavor many entrepreneurs are figuring out with no foolproof. Now, the crisis is seeing moguls befuddled in years of experiences losing their decades of toils and billions.

While experts are speculating the virus could last over a year or two before a definite vaccine is found, businesses are also doing more than just ‘doing business’ to stay afloat – success is buried on the other side of frustration.

Steve Fink said: “too often, business schools teach academic crisis management theory, if that, but given the diverse and unique nature of the crisis, all the theory in the world will not help you manage an actual crisis unless you know the basic mechanics.” However, businesses activeness thus far, depicts the much talked about global business advancement and innovation. Many brands’ responses have also been empathic towards the clientele.

In my recent conversation with some colleagues and other entrepreneurs who engaged me on the pandemic’s impact on businesses, the discussions were not far from; are you still operational; how are you coping; what are your strategies; almost broke; the reality is hard; we will survive et al. Ultimately, we concurred the future is auspicious.

David Morgan is a business consultant in the UK who runs his firm – a few days ago on Zoom, he busted my expectation of business ever returning to normal in a couple of months, especially with his ongoing business’ state. David currently has no employees left; he no longer could pay his employees, and can’t afford his office rent, so, he reprioritized. Now singly running a fully digital consulting business. He described his state of affairs as: “It’s not working at the moment, but what’s important is, I’m quite positioned to fairly recover if things should ever get normal.”

He further shared the challenges of running his digital consulting firm: “Now is the time to reinforce digital presence and engagement. It’s not an easy transformation – understanding the social media trends, algorithms, strategies, and developing content is another challenge of the game.” David, with no tech background, is gradually getting wind of his total digital adventure. Getting the digital fundamentals right like David is great, but here are what you also need to get right:

  1. Dealing with customers – digital customers can sometimes impede your social growth – they can be a handful of some internet unpleasant people. Understanding customers online pose many levels of conflicts and challenges: your understanding of customers’ exact order, the customers’ interpretation of what you can offer (solution, services, and products), customers’ internet language, customers’ acceptance of your business’ internet language and so forth.
  2. Original Storytelling – not all businesses are good storytellers. Your brand’s story can without question be misunderstood if not well told and follow a sequence. Stories must be brief, memorable, and interactive enough to resonate with targets.
  3. Well-structured content – working from the traditional space is much easier to operating online. Contents must be structured, deliberately planned, and scheduled to fit customers’ time and measure up to preferences.
  4. Managing Reputation – many businesses are still learning. The chain of communicating and maintaining a “social” reputation can be difficult to earn. Damages once done, is near impossible to reclaim.
  5. Followers Retention – getting the basics of SEO is always tricky. You’re never assured of 100 percent committed followers. Whether using paid lead generation or organic leads takes a lot of work, patience, and consistency.

Admittedly, the digital business can be cheaper to run a physical space – also is flexible and somewhat reaching more clientele than the former. “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well,” – Jeff Bezos. David, get with the program!

In truth, David isn’t alone. Olamide is a Nigerian who owns a hospitality business – presently, he’s out of business. As Nigeria eases its lockdown and most businesses have resumed, Olamide is yet to prepare for a comeback. The stories aren’t different from what’s being shared globally. Many entrepreneurs are already out of business, with the fortunate ones quickly adapting and making massive transformations.

Current business situation

Now, global business is experiencing major changes and struggles; evolving global workforce, disruptive innovation, businesses seeking recovering through government stimulus, and high employment rates. These unfortunate forces are reshaping and influencing continuous business activities. The global business situation isn’t favorable amid expectant recession – it has become difficult for business’ survival and successes due to the COVID-19 continuous spread.

Presently, businesses are struggling with unsustainable debts, financial crises, low labor, drastic change in the workforce, and disadvantageous economic conditions.

Pulling through the “no cash” days

Revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, but cash is king – anonymous. COVID-19 is teaching many entrepreneurs the value of cash to assets. Some big business leaders have already fallen victims to the popular business adage – many more will if measures aren’t taken. Cash flow is a key component of every business, maintaining a consistent flow of income is necessary to keep your business operating.

In a global crisis where most businesses and dependent activities are counting huge losses and making lower profits or nothing at all, how can businesses make past the upheaval? Other businesses are likely to face cash flow problems not because their account receivables are low or inadequate, but on account of low demand in services and products and customers purchase withdrawal due to the coronavirus spread – which has led countries putting in place lockdown measures.

Boosting Cash/Profits                                                                           

In the business game of revenue, profits, expenditures, and ready cash, where most businesses are taking a fall, as the pandemic reveals the financial weaknesses of many big brands, you must master the craft of sustaining the business through its ‘no cash’ phase.

Some few things we can do to find revenue as we make critical decisions for the upcoming months:

  • Follow-ups
  • Package services
  • Be on demand
  • Generate and Capture leads
  • Run AD campaigns
  • Subscriptions
  • Partnerships and offer free help/ advice

The Lessons

The lessons are tremendous – let’s look at a few.

  1. Proactive and reacting thinking – proactive approach focuses on eliminating future

problems before they happen and reactive is the reaction to the problem. These have become prevailing soft skills every business leader needs to have. The perspective each provide in assessing actions especially in crisis such as the coronavirus is preeminent.

  1. Financial lessons: How long will our cash last? – have we truly learned the lessons of the financial crisis hitting businesses? Perhaps yes – from the bitter experience of Richard Branson, Elon Musk, businesses, and some low key entrepreneurs. The rapid business changes caused by the nCov may have taught us a few critical financial lessons. Unfortunately, there are not many quick fixes to these concerns. Businesses have to prepare for periods of financial stress facing them and ahead.
  2. Adapting the New Normal: the ‘new normal’ – tremendous innovation all-around have incited businesses to explore. The change is essential to achieving the competitive advantage needed to succeed in this new era. The new normal is the future of businesses, hence managers must be concerned with their successes as the global business world is hit by an innovation revolution. We’ve been forced to explore better, faster, and cheaper ways of doing business and also satisfying customers.
  3. Creating a Shift: Altering business activities – Paradigm shifts in the way business are conducted is necessary for growth – complete or partial reinvention in an era as this won’t hurt but promote success. Significantly modifying business processes and adding more value to sustaining a lasting business during and post-pandemic will yield for customers and businesses. However, different shifts in companies have pros and cons that need to be critically looked at before the major decision.
  4. Adjusting Value: What does value mean to your business – more importantly, what does it mean to your customers? Sure as shooting, the pandemic has influenced customers purchasing power and preferences. Psychologists have predicted total change in customers’ behavior post nCov. The perception of value offering differs from business to business but businesses cannot achieve their ultimate success and growth without it. It’s time to adjust value and impact customer loyal and a spike in revenue.
  5. Applying Emotional Intelligence – It can’t be denied the exponential growth in the awareness of emotional intelligence over the years. Work productivity and overall performance, decision making, and workers relationship are found to be directly linked to emotional intelligence. Understanding the components of emotions and critical thinking will lead to more rational decisions devoid of biases – evaluate emotional information using critical thinking. (Read my article on emotional intelligence)
  6. High-end Tech usage – Zvika Krieger, Head of Technology Policy and Partnership – Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum said; “The shift to lifelong learning is essential. As the pace of technological change quickens, we need to be sure that employees are keeping up with the right skills to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That implies both technical and soft skills. There will be changes in both areas.” Nothing much needs to be added – the technological revolution has aided business advancement enormously pre-pandemic. It’s an epoch of rapid progress characterized by innovations that application causing an abrupt change to business conduction and activities.
  7. Innovation – The times we’re living in has brought immaculate innovation changes to the business front. Products, services, ideas, etc. have also seen a continuous change. The pace of innovation is already fast but will grow even faster.

>>>The writer is the CEO of Commec Group, a business development consultancy. She is a multiple award winning Business Development Consultant and a Writer. For business and engagements: [email protected] / www.commec.group

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