Septermber 2020
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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COVID-19: Surviving Challenging Times

 

COVID-19: Surviving Challenging Times

The world of business is going through some serious tough times. It's very likely your business has been hit hard and you may be your licking your wounds right now. But, what do you do next? Do you try to wait it out, survive long enough in the hope that as things begin to settle down you will be able to rise like a phoenix from the ashes? The trouble with that strategy is that we don't know if things will ever return to the old normal. Now might be a good time to see if there is any way you can adapt your business to fit the new reality. That may be an impossibility depending on what business you are in, or it might mean starting to look at what consumers want in this new world. If you can't adapt, what else can you start using your existing assets and resources as a springboard?

Let's take a look at the businesses that are doing well in spite of, or because of, the pandemic. As you read on, consider whether your business could find a way to meet any of these new, or enhanced, needs.

The most obvious winners are online retailers. They were already doing well but now their businesses have been fast-tracked. Business for this industry has never been better. If you are a local retailer you probably spit blood when you hear about their success, but if you can't beat them, have you thought about joining them? When and if all this ends, will bricks and mortar retailing ever be the same as it was before the virus? Unlikely. Think long and hard about how you can offer online purchasing, delivery etc.

If you aren't a retailer consider how you might benefit from major online retailers' successes. Could you start a delivery, or courier service in your community? Amazon and the like have seen their need for local delivery services increase exponentially.

What other businesses are thriving? There is a surprising variety of other booming business sectors: grocery stores, online cooking courses (and courses on just about anything else) wine, beer and liquor stores, videoconference platforms, streaming services (Netflix had it's best quarter ever this year), and home and garden centres (one source indicates that online page views for this sector are up 140%). And that's not all, pet adoption has increased as people spend more time at home; beauty products for both men and women, especially anything to do with cutting and trimming one's own hair, have boomed. People are buying more coffee and coffee machines with which to make their favorite beverage as they are forced (or prefer) to drink at home. People are baking more, cooking more elaborate food, and eating at home more.

Sales of almost anything to do with fitness and health from road bicycles to exercise bikes and from fitness and health apps to diets have soared. Reports indicate that almost 3-million fitness equipment apps have been downloaded since all this started. And, sales of indoor and outdoor games equipment such as table tennis tables and pool tables have gone crazy.

As restrictions begin to ease, local tourism is set to explode. Cabins in remote locations have seen a surge in popularity as going off-the-grid is trending. People may not be able to go abroad at the moment but they are starting to become stir crazy so they will be looking to visit and stay within province or territory. And, think about the Canadian snowbirds. The Canadian Snowbird Association alone has 110,000 members. They may not be able to head south so what opportunities exist with this "captive" audience? The sun lovers may stay at home, but a percentage will still want the change of scenery that they are used to experiencing. Think RV sales and rental, or a service to help them figure out what next? What about lakeside, beach, or mountain retreats (it may be winter here but it's still an experience).

There's no doubt there will be fewer business around when this is all over. Being creative, innovative and entrepreneurial now, may help you become one of the survivors in a far smaller business gene pool. Now is not the time to sit and wait, it's time to figure a way forward.

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COVID-19: Surviving Challenging Times

 

Easing Consumer Tension

How much has your business changed in light of the pandemic? For some business owners, their business has improved, for others it has all but been destroyed. Still others have experienced a downturn that may or may not prove lethal. Without doubt, there are very few businesses that can report that nothing much has changed.

When the world changes we have to change. We have to adapt. Many people are choosing not to eat out at restaurants. Why is that? For some it will be a fear of contracting the virus. For others it maybe the current restrictions are making the experience, the atmosphere, less pleasant.

Most stores are quieter, especially those selling less essential products. Why is this? For many people wandering around a mall was a pleasant experience, an outing. They would meet friends and family, stop for a coffee, window shop. Now, most people only visit stores out of necessity. More often than not, it is not a pleasant experience.

Even grocery shopping is a trial. There are one way aisles, with people often going the wrong way. Some shoppers are wearing masks, others not – if you don't wear one you feel as if people are looking at you. If you do wear one, you feel people are looking at you, you can't win. There are line ups, sometimes outside, sometimes snaking around the store making you feel isolated, no one is talking, you feel like a part on a conveyor belt.

In all cases, there are people that understand social distancing and there are people that think COVID is a hoax, or just bad flu. It's probably this minority that abuse servers in restaurants for not allowing them to sit ten to a table, or occupy a roped off area.

Do you know what would ease your customers' fears? What would make them more comfortable visiting your store, your facility, you warehouse or whatever? Have you asked them?

One restaurant, handled social distancing by putting giant teddy bears in all the seats they couldn't allow people to occupy. This helped people understand where they could sit, and also provided an ambiance far better than an unoccupied barren wasteland of tables and stacked chairs. Another waterside restaurant erected greenhouses big enough to seat two people along the dockside. It made the experience fun.

What can you do to make things more pleasant for your customers? If you know your regulars and have some way of contacting them, consider organizing private shopping events with small numbers of customers. Yes, you might be limiting your customer base during these times, but they are more likely to actually buy something rather than just browse.

This can also work in a B2B environment. Just consider the situation from your customers' point of view. What is important to your customers right now? What would make them feel more comfortable buying from you?

Survival is going to be all about creativity. Finding a way to ease the tension and making visiting your business pleasant, and maybe even fun, might be the difference between survival and closure.

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COVID-19: Surviving Challenging Times

 

Coach's Corner - Developing a Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, succinctly summarizes the idea of growth and fixed mindset by saying, "Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts)."

The question becomes, how do we develop a growth mindset? What does it take to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset?

First, we have to believe that we have the ability to grow and change through hard work, thoughtful plans and strategies, and being open to other people's ideas and input. Having this belief then allows us to look at opportunities for growth and positive change. Here are a few thoughts on developing a growth mindset.

Having a Purpose

We need to have a purpose and let others know what that purpose is. We need to be to be more accountable to both ourselves and others. It is important that we share our thoughts and goals as well as sharing our challenges and failures. Being more accountable makes it easier for us to focus on what is important to us. What is your "Why"?

"Success is not an accident, success is a choice." - Stephen Curry, Professional Basketball Player

Learning from Mistakes

We need to truly learn from our failures. If we are reflective and able to focus on learning and growing from our mistakes, we will start to develop the foundation for a growth mindset. It is not about fixating on the failures, it is about learning from them and moving on. Learning from our failures allows us to develop good plans and strategies. We need to ask ourselves, what have we learned from our past accomplishments and mistakes?

"Failure is so important. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success." – J.K. Rowling

Putting in the Effort

To achieve the success we desire, we've got to be at 100 percent. True success is achieved by putting in both the time and the effort. Having talent does not ensure success, hard work and persistence are truly necessary. How much of an effort are we willing to put into realising our goals?

"Don't tell me how talented you are. Tell me how hard you work." - Artur Rubenstein

To truly incorporate a growth mindset, we must at least incorporate the three parts that Dweck outlines in her summary: hard work, good strategies and input from others.

"Becoming is better than being" - Carol Dweck, Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching

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