he global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has shown that most if not all countries are unprepared to take on a public health crisis of such massive scale. Businesses have also been struggling to survive given the contraction of the economy from all sides. This early, however, the business lesson has already been painted on the wall for all to learn from: Adapt and Thrive.
The scientific community is also learning to adapt and move swiftly so that it can catch up and formulate a vaccine for the virus. Restaurants that lost dine-in customers were quick to realize that the lockdown was an opportunity to enter the food delivery business. Some AirBnB hosts who lost customers due to the travel ban and drop in tourism saw that there was a need for a furnished one-bedroom apartment among doctors and other hospital workers who needed an in-between place to stay that’s near the hospital. Given their exposure to COVID 19 patients, many medical frontliners had to avoid going home for a while to prevent bringing the virus to their own homes. At the same time, they are near enough to the hospital to respond to emergency calls, saving them time and effort in reporting for work.
These are only some adaptations that had to be done by people and organizations in the face of adversity. Their flexibility, willingness to change, and optimism have helped them to keep moving forward with work or business.
There are three other ideas that can help organizations and individuals to rethink their strategy and recharge their business once the worst of the pandemic is over. To adapt and thrive regardless of the business environment, consider following these suggestions:
Widen Your Business Perspective
Widening one’s business perspective is simply thinking beyond one’s office, business model, goals, products or services, and bottom line. For example, it is typical for a business to look at its supply chain. A restaurant in a trendy tourist spot earns thousands of dollars from dine-in customers from out of town. To keep the resto running, the owner needs constant communication with suppliers of food ingredients, cooking fuel, and other materials needed for the operation.
When the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed, tourists suddenly stopped coming into the restaurant. Soon, temporary closures had to be done. At first, the resto owner only had his main supply chain in mind. What he learned is that the transportation industry, government regulations, and public health protocols can impact his business in a major way, and it did. Moving forward, the resto owner was determined to map out a continuity of business plan. The lockdown experience gave him an insight into the importance of primary and secondary markets for his business.
Not one to lose hope, he rallied his restaurant staff and reorganized them into a food packaging and delivery team that serviced the community and even frontliner agencies including hospitals, police precincts, and other organizations that were on duty 24/7 and had a need for a reliable food supplier for their staff.
Continuous Improvement Is the Only Way to Survive
In the ’90s, Nokia was the most popular cellular phone brand in Europe and other parts of the world. In fact, by 2007, it had dominated as much as 50% of the market and was the envy of every company in the consumer electronics and telecommunications industry. But only six years later, in 2013, its market share dropped to a dismal five percent. What went wrong?
First, iPhone stepped up to take on the challenge. Apple’s flagship product was designed to beat Nokia phones feature by feature. Not only was the iPhone faster and more ergonomically designed. The product also had good software and had a brilliant marketing strategy behind it. Soon, Blackberry and Samsung joined in the competition. The Chinese brands like Huawei and ZTE were not far behind.
Nokia, despite being the number one cellphone manufacturer for a long time, failed to take the lead in the smartphone sub-market. They were soon overtaken by competitors and could not catch up. In fact, the company was already about to declare bankruptcy in 2013 and its acquisition by Microsoft was the only thing that saved the once mighty firm. Although the company still exists today, it is only but a shadow of its former strength as the erstwhile cellphone industry leader. It did not apply the principle of continuous improvement while its rivals launched new versions of their smartphones every year, keeping the customer’s hunger for new models fully satisfied. Industry experts used the term ‘lack of agility’ in innovation, strategic management, and marketing led to the downfall of Nokia.
Evolve and Grow with Your Customers
In business school, instructors always say that owners must remember that customer taste always change. If business owners do not recognize this, they might end up losing customers to other companies that are more in touch with the market. There is perhaps no industry where this rings truth stronger than in the fashion industry. With each season, clothing lines change because of people’s need to adapt to weather conditions. There is a different line for summer, winter, spring, and fall. These seasons demand different kinds of textiles, cuts, and styles based on consumer taste and demand.
In the US, many shopping malls have already closed even before the pandemic happened. Retail sales in malls have been in a steady decline for a number of years now. As e-commerce becomes more and more mainstream, people are shifting their focus to online stores where they can buy stuff that they want using only their smartphone and fingers.
Another good example of the importance of growing with customers is Blockbuster, the video rental shop that had branches all over the US and in other countries. As digital films and video streaming technology took over, Blockbuster slowly lost its luster and closed shop. It did not have a long-term plan for keeping customers whose tastes and behavior were evolving with technology and gadgets.
To adapt and thrive in an ever-changing business environment, large corporations and small companies need to widen their view of the market, pursue continuous development of products and services, while remaining flexible and agile enough to respond to a growing, evolving customer base.