Last week I posted the following note on LinkedIn offering a free consultation call with me:
After the post, I had approximately ten calls with different business owners, all of whom were wondering what they needed to do to survive the crisis.
There were a few themes that came up repeatedly during different calls. Here’s the most important of them all:
What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work tomorrow.
How to Position Your Business for Growth Post COVID-19
Every single business will need to adapt to the current situation.
Many businesses and industries will benefit from the current upheaval, but many more will suffer. This crisis is transforming entire industries.
One of the calls I had was with Lori D’Agostino. Lori is the president of Momento Events, a company that specializes in coordinating and producing large scale in-person conferences, festivals and private events.
Lori has worked on some fairly large scale public events—including The Calgary Stampede and Le Diner en Blanche—both of which may very well be canceled as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
As a result, Lori has found herself with some extra time on her hands and concern about both the short-term and long-term future of in-person conferences and events as a result of COVID-19.
It so happens that I am the chair of programming and am on the board of Peerscale, a not-for-profit organization that connects tech-based CEOs across Canada. We’re now in the midst of planning a large event that will happen this year, and we’ve hired Lori as our event planner.
At the end of our call, I got to speaking with Lori about her business and some of her concerns. In the wake of so many in-person event cancellations, she was very uneasy when she thought about her future.
I’m going to continue relating my conversation with Lori, but first I am going to digress for a minute.
It’s Time to Shift
Just because your business does something today, doesn’t mean that your business should necessarily do that same thing tomorrow.
Let me explain.
Every single industry and business will feel the impact of the current crisis. Regardless of how your business changes, you will need to address both the short-term implications of this transition (cash flow, staffing, collections, etc.) and more importantly, the longer-term implications.
Can your business survive?
It’s time to stop thinking about your business in yesterday’s terms.
Just because your business services a particular industry or sector doesn’t mean that you must continue servicing that industry moving forward.
You can shift your business to adapt.
It’s Time to Innovate
One of the other calls I had was with an individual who sells B2B software that services the oil and gas industry in Alberta.
The oil and gas industry has taken a large hit recently, which was further exacerbated by Saudi Arabia and Russia’s choice to play political games with the supply side of oil.
The industry is hurting, and as a result, so is his business.
When I asked him what he did, he said, “My business sells software to the oil and gas industry.”
I remembered that he mentioned servicing Alberta, specifically. “Why?”I asked.
He said, “Well, that’s where I live, so it’s easier to set up in-person meetings.”
“And why the oil and gas industry?”
He explained that his software tracked the movement of hazardous goods, but that his software was technically industry agnostic. He could serve other industries, like medical, drug transportation, other precious metals, but has been focusing on oil and gas.
I told him that he needs to stop thinking of his business as a supplier of software to the oil and gas industry in Alberta and to start thinking of his business as a supplier of software to any industry that transports hazardous goods—or at least a growing industry—in any market.
There are many industries that are growing as a result of this crisis, the medical and drug industry likely being one. And with regards to communication, there’s no need to meet face to face. Now more than ever, most purchasers will likely be very amenable to a video conference call. Services like Zoom are extremely inexpensive.
I suggested that he adapt his business to the new reality today.
The Future of In-Person Conferences, and Back to Lori
I’m not sure what will happen to the future of in-person conferences and presentations. Eventually, things will bounce back. It could take years though, and even then I suspect people will come to realize that many events can be just as effective if done through conference software and online platforms.
As a matter of necessity, we’re going to move our next Peerscale get together to a video conference session. I’ve asked Lori to assist with the programming, invitations, software, and speaker coordination. And that’s where Lori’s potential new opportunity could be.
I suggested to Lori that she stop thinking of her business as a business that assists clients in hosting large in-person conferences, and instead, a business that helps companies host in-person or virtual conferences.
Even though Lori is not familiar with the various software packages, she can utilize her new free time to investigate the what, who, when, how, and how much of what’s required to host a successful virtual event. I suggested that she develop those skills so she can sell those services to clients.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask:
- How can you change your business model, product, strategy, to fit the new circumstances?
- What improvements can you make to your company’s website and online presence including social media?
- Can you allow your employees to work from home? What changes do you need to make to your communication software to allow for that?
- Ask yourself, what changes you can make today to make your business stronger for tomorrow?
Don’t Panic, Innovate!
Although it’s only been a couple of weeks since the panic started, I’ve now found myself exhausted by the continuous stream of coronavirus news. I came to this realization on Saturday when I started reading the national newspaper online, and all I could find were stories about the virus. The papers will continue to write about this crisis, and while it’s important to have a sense of what’s happening in the world, I’m committed to not getting pulled into the negative news cycle.
I have no plans of hiding under a rock and pretending that things are normal. I will read what I need to know about what’s going on in the world and stop once I’m up to date.
I’m going to use my time to focus on improving myself, writing, learning Spanish, and figuring out how I can position myself from a business perspective to take advantage of whatever opportunities will arise from this situation.
I am committed to turning the negative energy into a positive result.
You can do the same. That means figuring out how to pivot your business.
You’re going to need to innovate and stop hoping that things will go back to how they were. They won’t. The world is and will be a different place as a result of this pandemic. You can either become a victim or an empowered entrepreneur in search of new and exciting opportunities. It’s all a matter of perspective. You can’t control the fact that the world is changing, but your attitude is something you absolutely do have control over
Good luck, and stay healthy.