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Aug 24
2020

As COVID-19 Accelerates Change, We Must Adapt

Posted by: Steve Marr

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A crisis like COVID-19 creates devastating pain across the nation while at the same time opens opportunities. We see dramatic change in life patterns and are experiencing business changes occurring at a rapid pace. One critical skill for any businessperson is to recognize the changes that are already occurring and adjust to them.

One devastating statistic is that 25% of small businesses have closed this year and bankruptcies have increased 26%. This reality demonstrates how existing business models no longer work for many. In some situations, the change has affected entire industries, like the airline and the restaurant business. At the same time, the US Census Bureau reports new business applications have increased 5% between the first and second quarter. This represents 40,000 new business startups.

 

Each of us has significantly altered our behavior because of COVID-19, whether we wanted to or not. Even an individual who feels that the virus is not a serious issue may not be able to go to their favorite restaurant because the establishment is closed. 

The changes are real.  Most of us are: 

·      spending more time at home.

·      socially isolated and want more human connection.

·      more conscious of our health and place a higher value on medical safety.

·      concerned about our children’s education and the ability of the educational system to meet their needs.  

·      concerned that 1 billion children worldwide have seen their education disrupted through school closures.

·      spending substantially more time with our families.

·      forced to complete more tasks online than ever before, whether by choice or requirement.

·      adjusting our time and routines based on these new realities.

·      utilizing new forms of entertainment, and learning new hobbies.

·      Spending more time with God, reading our Bibles, engaging in prayer and meditation.

·      restricted from leisure and business travel.

·      part of the dramatic increased number of people working from home. (In 2010, 4.3% of the workforce work remotely. This number increased to 15% in 2019. Today it is a stunning 50%.)

·      experiencing tele-medical visits with many physicians rather than in person examinations.

·      missing face-to-face business sales opportunities, which are practically nonexistent.

When facing serious difficulties. mindset is critical to turn challenges into successful opportunities. We see an example from Scripture:

They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:26-33, NIV)

The people of Israel were presented with a tremendous opportunity while at the same time faced substantial challenges. Some demonstrated a fearful attitude while Joshua demonstrated a faith and can-do attitude. The result of surrendering to fear and failing to grasp the opportunity was an unnecessary 40-year journey in the desert.

Rather than surrendering in defeat, we need to ask important questions like 

·      What new products and services do my customers demand? 

·      What steps can I take to alter my business to meet those customer requirements? 

·      Are there ways I can change my business to effectively serve those shopping online?

·      How may I adapt marketing services to meet customer preferences?

We need to identify the new problems which have arisen because of COVID-19 and the adjustments customers have had to make. As you identify these new problems, find a solution and market to new customers.

For example, if you want to become a restaurant owner; consider renting or acquiring the supplies of other establishments that have closed. There will be new opportunities for choice locations and low-cost equipment available for anyone able to move forward as the pandemic recedes.

Another opportunity involves the demand for effective homeschooling curriculum as many parents don’t want to send their children back to public schools. These parents need to know their options so they will be able to make good decisions for their children no matter what format schools adopt.

If you need to find prospective customers, create YouTube presentations, or find ways to market over the telephone. In the past a lot of salespeople spent hours each day in what we called windshield time, driving from one place to another. Now few salespeople make these types of sales visits. Now you must adapt and overcome.

In my view the economy will recover sooner or later. What is the key? For the entrepreneur it is to understand what the new landscape will be. Many individuals who work from home will never return to the traditional office. The ramifications for landlords is substantial. What about the restaurants and services that sold to individuals in office buildings? What about gas stations that no longer have customers coming in on their way to work to pick up a drink or snack for the road. What about your local Starbucks which you don’t frequent as much now and may not in the future? 

Many college students are frustrated because they are paying high tuition for classes they now view on the computer. There is no on-campus experience and little interaction with professors and other students. For years I’ve shared that college costs too much. Now, with the implications of this pandemic, I don’t believe parents and students are going to shell out $40,000 or more for a remote learning experience. There are less expensive and better options for online college learning.

The Marine Corps has a slogan we should take seriously: improvise, adapt and overcome. In today’s challenging and difficult environment, business owners must embrace this concept or face extinction like dinosaurs did.

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