If you are like many of the entrepreneurs I know, you're in the middle of a pivot, or are at least thinking about one. Now that the world is largely reopened, we're figuring out what adjustments we need to make to our businesses.
Admittedly, the decisions can be bewildering. What I call "coviety" -- the inability to make decisions due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 -- is real and likely to continue for a while.
We have learned how to function and operate our businesses differently since March 2020 and many of us have gotten comfortable in our new habits. So, do we go back to doing what we were doing for years, or have the rules changed permanently?
The problem is that the answer is not black-and-white, nor is it the same for every business; some industries have permanently changed far more than others. It's up to you to judge that landscape.
This "pivot experience" leads me think often about the challenges in front of us as business leaders and entrepreneurs. It's tempting to say good riddance to Covid-19 and write off the last 16 months or so and return to our old habits and routines, just like in the "good old days."
Yet, I'm convinced that it's a big mistake to go back to what was and not figure out how to incorporate at least some of what we have learned since the pandemic began.
One of the few things I remember from college, I learned in one of my first classes freshman year. The professor explained that most conflicts in life come from new ways of thinking clashing with the existing modes. It's natural to seek safety and comfort in old ways, but there just may be a better way to do things.
While it's popular to view nostalgia fondly, the reality is often tainted. For example, people look back fondly on cars from the 1950s and 1960s -- and they do still look cool -- but they drove poorly, got terrible gas mileage, rusted quickly, and broke down regularly. New cars may all look the same, but they clearly are huge improvements over their predecessors. Or consider this: Those classic TV shows you watched as a kid? Watch them again and you'll realize they're mostly terrible.
Perhaps a straightforward rule -- a rule you should heed at all times anyway -- can help guide you: Follow your customers! Ultimately, you work for them. Once you stop doing so, there's no need for your business to exist.
Understand what they need and want, and adjust accordingly. Everything else is noise.
Nobody is ever going to look back fondly at the pandemic, but chances for a game-changing opportunity are few and far between. Take advantage of it.
If your business was struggling or merely stagnant prior to the pandemic, there may well be new avenues available.
If your business was doing well before the pandemic, perhaps you can do even better. Our challenge as leaders is to keep the changes coming and encourage them.
If you're an entrepreneur looking for a new gig, what better time than now to start a new business? Ten years from now, we'll likely be well-versed in the stories of the new game-changing companies (and fields of commerce) that got their start thanks to the pandemic.
Finally, always remember that you're rarely alone in your journey. Affinity groups are a perfect way to not only vent, but to bounce ideas off fellow entrepreneurs who may be in the same predicament. Sure, you don't want to reveal the trade secret that makes you unique, but if you're in North Carolina and someone in California, who's clearly not your competitor, has a good idea, who's to say that you can't do likewise? Maybe a similar company faced the same challenges you are currently facing and found a viable solution they're willing to share. The point is, open that line of communication and be flexible enough with your business strategy to be able to pivot when opportunities arise.