First published on I Am An Entrepreneur in 2020. I have been looking back over some of the things I wrote during lockdown to see if it is still relevant.
It is now two months since the South African government instituted a lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and two weeks since the country was shifted to Level 4 lockdown, with Level 3 on the near horizon. The painful reality is that, in this time, businesses have downsized, laid off staff or shutdown completely.
For the entrepreneur, it has been even more drastic considering that so many of us depend on our businesses for our livelihood.
The collapse of a business, therefore has an even more direct impact on us as business owners and as human beings. This, we cannot change.
Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning wrote “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Now is the time to break through the anxiety that has come with the extremity of the situation we have faced and continue to face –undoubtably easier said than done – and honestly look at what the potential future of our business is.
Key is being able to step back and return to basics, to look back on the lead up to the start of your business.
The first element to look at is the viability of your business in the current landscape. The process of establishing the business involved, hopefully, a market that you had identified for your products and/or services. Going through that process again will enable you to plan better for the uncertain future on the horizon.
The reality is that, if the business is no longer viable, it might make better sense to cut your losses, regroup and devote your energy, resources and attention towards something that is viable. You started the business. You are capable. You are an entrepreneur. You do not lose that aspect of who you are.
Should you establish that the business is still viable, you need to revisit all aspects of your operations. The most obvious element is the way in which you distribute your products or provide your services. With social distancing a reality for months to come, revisiting delivery processes and systems is imperative.
Beyond this, there is the opportunity to look at all aspects of your business from your supply chain (however big or small this may be), production, IT, HR, customer service, etc. Even if you are a small business and are, perhaps, wearing half those hats, now you have the chance to streamline each process and iron out the inefficiencies.
To move forward, you need to be able to operate as efficiently as possible.
Consumers + Market
We are all dealing with immense change and, as a result, our needs are also changing. Take the time to truly understand where your consumer is, what their headspace is, the shifts in their needs, etc and how your products and services can meet them there.
Products + Services
The nature of your products and/or services was to satisfy a need for your customers. Taking into consideration where society is today, and for some time to come, is the way your product or service developed/designed still relevant? Does it need to be tweaked or do you need to take a fresh approach to developing the post-COVID19 version? If you are clear on the need that you are satisfying, you should be able to pivot or refine your offering, where necessary.
Essentially, it is all about pressing reset on your business and going through the thinking that prompted you to start it. This time round, you have a lot more information and knowledge. Use that to reignite your business and relaunch the next version of it.