As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, business owners have to think outside the box to weather the storm. From changes in buyer habits to strict regulations on operations, the challenges keep coming, putting many at risk of losing everything they’ve worked for over the years.
Thankfully, at the heart of it all lies the entrepreneurial spirit, providing the willingness to forge ahead and make the best of the situation. But what’s the best path to take in this time of sheer uncertainty and nationwide heartbreak?
For that, you can look to David Azzato, a talented angel investor and entrepreneur from London. With his insights, you can create a plan for your own business and move forward despite the known and unknown challenges that lie ahead. Here’s what he suggests.
Understand the Current Climate
Even without the 24-hour news cycle running in the background, it’s obvious that this country is hurting. Rising coronavirus numbers, civil unrest, and lockdowns on the horizon threaten the livelihoods of business owners and their valued workers. Although it’s difficult to view head-on, you have to gauge the current climate to analyze your challenges and create a plan for moving forward.
You can look at the direct impact on your operations to start. Have government restrictions reduced sales? Are customers spending less money at your company due to their challenges? Are you located in an area impacted by protests?
Then, think about global challenges that affect a business like yours and those in other industries. Beyond that, consider what your customers are facing as they go about their day to day lives.
All of these things can spell out big trouble for you, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to give up. It means that it’s time to fight for your livelihood by figuring out a way around all those issues. As Azzato points out, it’s your job to find something that will help. Are you up for the task?
Remember to Stay in Motion
As an entrepreneur, your momentum keeps you going as you face everyday difficulties and work through them to reach new heights in your business. And it’s that momentum that will help you stay afloat as you deal with the challenges caused by the pandemic.
You have to hit the ground running each day, after all, or you could risk getting stuck in a rut. During these difficult times, the challenges are bound to come hard and fast, leaving you racing to find solutions more often than not. If you stop for too long to ponder the ins and out of each decision, you could lose steam and find your motivation wavering.
Although it’s important to gauge the pros and cons briefly, you have to commit to making calculated decisions on the fly and seeing what happens. It’s too difficult to know just what will pan out in these times, so you have to be willing to experiment. Azzato believes that’s what the entrepreneurial spirit thrives on and encourages you to stay in motion for your best chance at success.
Look at What Your Customers Need
Your customers count on you to provide products and services that make their lives better, easier, or more fulfilling. But their needs are changing right now since their daily lives likely look a lot different than they did at the beginning of 2020.
All that work you put into understanding your customer in prior years is undoubtedly going out the window. While it may not always stay that way, you have to change your understanding now to keep your business afloat.
So, get back to the basics and look at what your customers need from you in the here and now. Azzato urges you to skip worrying about what will change again in the future. Just focus on looking at what would make customers happy to frequent your company at this moment in time.
Get Ready to Pivot — Big Time
No one wants to profit off the pandemic, but some businesses are doing better than ever despite the current climate. And the vast majority of those companies have one thing in common: the ability to pivot and change their approach on the fly.
Some restaurants couldn’t serve dine-in meals anymore, so they went straight to a convenient takeout menu at the first notice of the restrictions. Others went even further and started selling ready-to-make meals upon realizing that their clients want homecooked delights but have even less time than before.
Restaurants are not the only ones to show off their pivoting skills either. Movie theaters switched to a digital-only format, retailers created curbside pickup, and even dating apps decided to embrace the quarantine era.
New businesses have even sprung up as a result of people identifying what their communities need most. The entrepreneurial-minded started with making masks and hand sanitizers, but it didn’t end there. Companies making health apps, thermal scanning devices, and the like are taking off big time as everyone tries to cope with the virus wreaking havoc on our lives.
With an understanding of the value of pivoting, you can dream up ways to help your business thrive. Azzato suggests letting your worries catapult you into enacting smart changes that will benefit all your customers — and your company in turn.
Don’t Let Concerns Hold You Back
There’s no doubt about it. Change is difficult. Depending on the scope of your proposed changes, you may have to abandon everything that worked in prior years in favor of the unknown. But as the world keeps changing to get past this virus, what worked in the past may no longer serve you well.
For that reason, it’s time to let go of your concerns and abandon the way you’ve always done things. You can always go back to it all once a semblance of normalcy returns to everyone’s daily lives. If it all works out, however, you might not want to. Your new way of doing things may become the norm if your offerings give customers just what they need.
To get past the concerns, Azzato urges you to think back to when you originally started your business. You were likely fraught with worries, yet full of excitement for the possibilities. Let that feeling return and lead you to greatness once again.
Leave Emotion at the Door
Pushing away worries in favor of hope for the future is difficult enough, but when emotions get involved it can feel nearly impossible. Even without worries about your business and finances, COVID-19 is bringing a whole lot of emotions to the forefront of every day as well.
Staying practical is key, however, is making sure that your ideas become reality. You cannot let emotion cloud the way or you could end up making tons of missteps that impede your progress. That said, don’t push the emotions down and hope they don’t come rising again because that never works.
Instead, feel them, acknowledge them, and then put them to work in building a better future for you and your community. Also, take your customers’ emotions into account as well you gauge their needs, and create a business plan that benefits them. Once you do that, you can leave emotion at the door and get to work.
Azzato points out that you have to act despite how you’re feeling to get over this hump with your business intact. But that doesn’t mean you cannot take a minute to honor those emotions and let them inspire you to do the best you can.
Adjust Strategies Early and Often
Once you have a new trajectory in mind, shift your strategy right away to begin offering your new products and services. Don’t hesitate too long or another company could fill that niche and get a head start.
So, even if the idea seems a little bit wacky or just departs from your previous approach a little more than you’re comfortable with, give it a go and see what happens. In these times, it’s far too difficult to predict how customers will respond. You just have to put yourself out there and hear what they have to say.
You can do limited runs at first to make sure that you’re on the right track if you’re more comfortable with that. Just make sure to gauge your progress every step of the way to determine if additional changes are in order.
If you get an overwhelmingly positive response, then ramp up your operations to match demand. As long as your company can meet the needs and expectations of your clients, you won’t leave any room for other entrepreneurs to swoop in and steal the spotlight.
On the other hand, if your approach doesn’t hit the mark, then change it up yet again. There’s no limit to how many things you can try as you attempt to adjust your business model to meet the challenges you face.
As you make adjustments, remember to interface with your customers to see what went awry and dial in your approach to better meet their needs. Azzato reminds us, aim to meet demand as you shift your strategy, which requires talking with customers as much as possible.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
As additional restrictions loom on the horizon, murmurs spread through the community like wildfire. Although it’s not wise to act until it’s set in stone, paying attention to these murmurs can give you a jump on the competition. You don’t want to be caught off guard, after all, if your region is set for another shutdown soon.
Even better, think of products and services you can offer no matter what government restrictions come your way. With that move, you can keep your company raring full speed ahead without having to make any adjustments each time things change.
If you don’t already have a pandemic-proof idea in the works, put your ear to the ground and see what problems people are having. Then, reflect on your industry to see if you can dream up a way to resolve those issues for your clients. If you can hit on a winning idea, you won’t just take your business to the next level, but also benefit your community in amazing ways.
So, keep your ear to the ground and keep dreaming to continue to pivot through the pandemic and beyond. As Azzato attests, you won’t ever regret doing all you can to benefit your community and grow your company despite the challenges all around.
Understand the Differences
Not all companies are built the same. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can make whatever changes you want without worry about anything but your time, money, and prospects. The CEO of a huge corporation cannot do the same since they have to answer to board members, stockholders, and the like.
Risk is simply not the same either. Sole proprietors do not have as much wiggle room in their budget as big companies, making it harder to weather the storm without going under. Big companies may feel less pressure to adapt and change as a result, especially when it comes to changing their operations.
They may resist requests to work from home, despite the risks to their staff, simply due to their ability to keep things running even after many call out sick. In the long run, the harm to their reputation may come back to haunt them, but for now, it resolves the issue of trying to make big sweeping changes.
As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to take that iffy route. You can maintain an empathetic approach and show your community your commitment to their health and wellness while still aiming for great heights with your business. According to Azzato, changing things up has the potential to pay off in a big way and this pandemic is the perfect opportunity to do so.
Changes are Inevitable, So Make Them Work for You
As you run your company through the years, you’ll realize that this pandemic is just one of the many challenges you’ll face. While other difficulties might not have the global impact of COVID-19, Azzato wants to remind you that your company may still need to pivot to get through it all intact.
Thanks to your newfound ability to adjust to the challenges, future issues won’t seem so dire. You’ll know just what to do and can enact changes without losing your momentum. Your ability to overcome adversity will serve as a launching pad that helps your company grow and thrive.
So, use this time wisely to learn just what to do when things flip upside down and bring your business to a screeching halt. With David Azzato’s suggestions at the forefront of your mind, you’re sure to find a new way forward and achieve greater success than you ever knew possible.
Be sure to check out David’s YouTube for more strategies that entrepreneurs can employ to survive COVID-19 with their businesses intact.