In the wake of Covid-19, a bevy of businesses have been forced to close their doors temporarily. Macy's announced recently that it will furlough most of its 125,000 employees and consider closing additional locations in an effort to save the struggling retailer. I never thought in my lifetime that I could ever drive by a mall that was closed, but that is the new reality to keep us safe and socially distanced today.
I was in the market for a new car before the "stay at home" order went into effect, and the dealer reached out to me with a "contact-less test drive & buy" option, where they will deliver the car to my home by flatbed for a 24-hour test drive, and negotiate the entire purchase via Zoom.
This reality has forced all business models to shift in consideration of changing times. However, there are others that were already ahead of the curve and feeling the positive impact of their decision to stand out in the crowd, such as Zoom and Amazon. Today, Zoom is one of the most important apps in the world, especially for remote workers.
What does this mean for your business?
There are some businesses that may have to face today's new normal as a permanent reality. I work with so many ambitious leaders who are wishful and waiting for everything to go back to the way they were at the beginning of 2020, but the truth is today's pandemic has already changed the buying behaviors of consumers and customers. Social distancing, as well as remote events and networking, may become a permanent part of the landscape of the world, and our minds.
Is your business model prepared for a crisis? We can continue to learn lessons from those who are leading the way during such difficult times about the positive impact of preparation for changes ahead, even beyond an insurance policy. Here are three things you should do right now to be prepared.
Remain ahead of the game.
Companies that are thriving in today's market were proactive in their effort to forecast consumer and market trends, rather than reacting to the impact of a sudden force to shift, especially during a crisis.
Ask yourself: "What is the crisis plan for my business?"
A reactive approach to external factors that may affect your business is the worst way to grow a company. Macy's is a perfect case study of a company that leaned heavily on foot-traffic from its investments in retail real estate, with nearly 870 locations, only to be forced to close 125 stores in 2019 due to underperformance.
Macy's underestimated the rise of online shopping and major brands offering the same products on competing platforms. As a result, it became vulnerable to lower-priced competitors that did not have such high overhead and expenses.
Get ahead of the market. Research consumer trends in your industry and create a presence globally. Don't wait until a crisis to look for your target market. Consumer demand changes with inflation, age, and access. Do your research and prepare for change.
Create a virtual approach.
The winners in the work-from-home landscape today are Zoom and Apple. I'm a mother who is currently operating my company from home, while my son, a freshman in high school, is homeschooling via multiple Apple devices and apps. He has a morning attendance conference call with all of his teachers through FaceTime, then a warm-up quiz for each class through Kahoot, downloaded from the Apple app store. He ends the day with a study hall with fellow students via Zoom.
From schools to spiritual gatherings and online parties, everything is going virtual, and so should you. Consider your virtual plan and how you can continue to offer your products and services in an ever-evolving consumer market.
Invest in new skills.
The current crisis has given me the uninterrupted time I needed to finish up a few online courses that I started earlier this year. I registered for a few communication courses to sharpen my presentation skills, and have since added a few more, which I am sure will increase the value of my demand in the future.
Now is a great time to sharpen up on a few essential skills, which will expand the value of your business, especially marketing. Start looking for a few online courses and trainings that will help your business increase revenue, visibility, demand, and productivity.
If there is anything that Covid-19 has taught us all it's that businesses are not immune to a crisis. Consider how the market shutdown has impacted your business today, and how you can be better prepared to be up and running despite the unforeseen challenges ahead.