Eventually, business owners will need to think beyond survival mode and make a plan for the future. For entrepreneurs who can successfully look ahead and "skate to where the puck is going," there will be unprecedented opportunities to grow -- and fail. 

One way to make smart bets is to start is with something called the PEST Analysis. I have used this with several clients over the past few weeks to uncover issues and opportunities related to political, economic, social, and technological factors. 

Political

From regulatory changes to legislation like the Cares Act, those who understand the political nuances impacting their business and industry are often the most successful. Government actions always create winners and losers, and those who dive deep into new laws and regulations often see opportunities where others don't. For instance, rules around requirements for public gatherings at events and restaurants are likely to spur new products and innovations designed to enable businesses to meet them. We can expect major government actions to continue while Covid-19 is with us -- and well into the economy's recovery.

Economic

Understanding which parts of the economy are most resilient, and which areas have the potential for growth will enable your company to pivot or to focus more on areas where spending will remain robust. Think about what areas will grow or change when recovery begins. Look at past catastrophic events -- like the Great Recession and the period following the 9/11 attacks -- and you will see that more people decided to stay put and invest in their current home rather than investing in a larger residence. This led to growth in sectors like home improvement while real estate suffered. Identifying and targeting these hot spots in an otherwise difficult market is key to success.

Social

This pandemic will drive major consumer spending shifts in the next few years. Fears of travel, concerns around spending, and so many other major shifts in how people behave and interact will shape the economy for years to come, and your business will likely need to adapt to succeed. Offices could look very different, and many companies may manage their workforces remotely. And the way we travel will change. People will still take vacations, but "captive" environments like cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts may suffer while people opt for more local trips that don't require flying and enable them to leave at will. Where can your business take advantage of these social changes? 

Technological

The greatest innovations often come from a crisis. Many of the problems we face today can be solved with technology -- from innovations in videoconferencing to advances in medicine and disinfection. Look for new ways to solve problems with technology and a consumer base receptive to technological innovations. 

For your own business, look critically at the way you and other companies have leveraged technology to continue operations. Ensure that you identify and incorporate any methods that are better than the old ways of doing things to deliver a better customer experience while becoming more productive and efficient.

Using the PEST Analysis template, brainstorm development ideas with your leadership team, and then go back and explore what issues and opportunities arise. Prioritize the ideas most critical to attack, and put plans in place to both solve challenges and pursue growth.