The global pandemic has arrived and my inbox is filled with updates about new health measures, cancelled events, and people working from home.
COVID-19 has us panicked. Many people are frightened of catching the virus or losing someone close to them as a result of it. Doctors are scared about seeing the health system melt down. Business owners are worried about the impact on their business and their staff. And there are those of us (myself included) who have grave concerns about the longer term economic impact of shut-downs and mass hysteria.
On a day-to-day basis, many people are wondering what to do with themselves while business is slow, or they’re confined to home for a fortnight because they shook hands with someone who met someone who had coronavirus.
What’s the solution? How do we operate when everything seems so uncertain? I believe keeping your hair on is the first step. Here’s my list of 25 things (in no particular order) that you can do during a global pandemic to stay sane and make the most of the slow times.
1. Get out the red pen
Businesses that didn’t see the pandemic coming have been blindsided as travel bans, restrictions on movement and social distancing cut customer numbers, drive down sales and slash revenue.
While you might not be able to increase turnover in the next few weeks, you can definitely control costs. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get out the red pen and go through your P&L line by line, looking at where you can save money. Cut expenses that don’t help you get more clients, make more money or maintain a positive mindset. Keep line items that do those things: marketing, sales, good advice. You might be surprised how much fat you can take out of your business, especially if you haven’t run this exercise in a while (or ever).
2. Identify opportunities disguised as threats
As you look at the threats that COVID-19 appears to pose to your business, try to identify which ones are actually opportunities in disguise.
This week I ran a workshop for clients whose main form of marketing is trade shows. They’ve had to cancel all plans to exhibit at shows across the globe, but rather than panic, they identified an opportunity to rework their entire marketing strategy and develop a targeted digital plan. This is something my clients have been meaning to tackle for a long time and never gotten around to, because they’re always travelling. With six exhibitions off the table and $250,000 that would have been spent on exhibiting in the bank, this company has more than enough resources to put together a kick-ass digital strategy. If done the right way, this strategy will enable them to reach many more people than they could ever hope to reach at trade shows.
3. Investigate a potential pivot
While demand is plunging in some sectors of the economy, it’s surging in others (like technology, and the health sector). There may be an opportunity for you to take advantage of a trend or short-term demand. For example, I’m working with a company which has an Internet of Things device that records temperature. To date, it’s been used to track temperatures inside refrigerated units, but the founders have spotted an opportunity to pivot the application of the device so that it monitors the temperatures of human beings in public places – something that is hugely relevant just now. Smart thinking, right?
4. Change channels…
… and I don’t just mean switching off the hysterical garbage that’s swamping our screens. Some company leaders are freaking out about demand in their traditional channels going off a cliff, but haven’t investigated what mileage they can get from other channels.
This week, I spoke to a beverage producer who was worried that demand would drop in physical venues, as restrictions on gatherings came into force. The company has the ability to sell their beverage online, but hasn’t focussed on that channel and or considered the potential of online sales. Sales of online wine, such as through the good folks at Vinomofo, are going gangbusters right now, and there might be opportunity in other beverage segments too. How could you change channels within your industry?
5. Work on your international strategy
I often hear CEOS say “I’d like to create an international strategy, but I don’t have time”. There is no better way to add value to your business than by expanding its international footprint, and as the pace of business slows and there’s less operational work to take care of, there is a window of opportunity for executives to focus on their ‘big picture’ international strategy.
While some will resist because they believe that there is too much uncertainty to plan, smart cookies will realise that it’s the planning process that creates the real value. Just having a strategy in place is a much better place to be than having a bunch of half thought-out concepts. You can always adjust your strategy as circumstances evolve. If you’re keen to get started to your strategy and want help getting started, you can book a time to chat with me here – I’m happy to point you in the right direction.
6. Be a good corporate citizen
7. Create magic marketing
8. Reach out to your network
It’s tempting to go to your cave during a tough time, but I don’t believe that’s a good solution. Instead, reach out to your network and do what you can to a) see whether people are ok, a) encourage and inspire and c) be encouraged and inspired.
9. Write your book
10. Get some sleep
11. Establish KPIs for your team
12. Build budgets
I’m amazed by how many companies suffer from cost blowouts because they’ve never created proper budgets. Now is a bad time to be flying blind on expenditure, so get stuck in and work out what you’ll need to spend where, to keep the show on the road. If you combine it with the red pen exercise, you’ll be in a better position to weather the storm.
13. Start a podcast
14. Go on a date …. Or a virtual date?
15. Tighten your feedback loops
16. Redesign your funnel
17. Acquire deep insights
18. Get back in shape…
19. Spend time with your family
20. Look out for those who are doing it tough
Many people are going to suffer as a result of the pandemic, and not just by getting sick. Especially hard hit will be the elderly, the poor, those who live alone or don’t have good support networks and those going through financial hardship as a knock-on effect of shutdowns and economic stress. Please keep an eye out for these people and help them however you can – they need you.
21. Become culturally competent
22. See your acupuncturist
23. Discover a new podcast
24. Catch up on your reading list
It’s an endless and virtually free activity.