A Welcome Post-COVID Milestone and What It Means for Your Business

Following a New York Times report on the decline of COVID, we compiled a list of business lessons that can help your startup or small business operate in a post-pandemic world.

We started the list with a concept that really runs through the whole exercise: the importance of being agile and flexible.

Businesses that survived 2020-22, or even thrived, rarely did so by maintaining the status quo. The winners adapted their goods and services or pivoted into new offerings where they could meet the changing needs of consumers.

  1. Be agile and flexible. The business world is more volatile than ever, so businesses need to be able to adapt to change quickly. Think of the distilleries that began producing hand sanitizer in the early days of the pandemic, or fashion houses that started sewing masks. E-commerce is an even broader example. No one could have predicted the pandemic, of course, and no one expected consequences like the explosion of e-commerce that followed. But those businesses that were prepared culturally and operationally to pivot to e-commerce were rewarded.
  2. Find peace with some version of remote work: As we’ve chronicled in The Start newsletter, the debate over Work from Home versus Return to the Office is not going anywhere soon. While productivity studies are giving return advocates more ammunition, many employees have grown accustomed to working from home and appear unwilling to give it up completely. Attracting and retaining top talent may require businesses to offer remote work options, even if the business prefers to have its staff on site. Depending on the industry, we should expect some form of WFH or hybrid WFH to remain a reality for years to come.
  3. Focus on customer experience. More than ever, consumers are now focused not just on the goods or services they are buying but on the whole experience that accompanies their purchase. Whether that’s in retail, dining or even health care, customers are expecting more. That starts with the moment they interact with you through the moment they make a purchase … and even beyond. Focusing on customer experience can help you build data about your market, address pain points of customers and improve your products and services.
  4. Embrace digital. The pandemic accelerated the business world’s digital transformation, but the post-COVID era will be no less demanding. This could mean moving to a cloud-based infrastructure. Or maybe it’s adopting new digital marketing strategies. In the dining world, for example, it means creating and improving ways for consumers to order online for seamless pickup or delivery. Whether it’s customer demand or operational efficiency that drives your digital initiatives, now is no time to back off.
  5. Build up your social media presence. Even small players can benefit from a social media presence that provides a way to connect with your customers and promote your products or services. Without dedicating a lot of time, social media can be a welcoming, inexpensive way for customers to discover your business. It can be a good place for customers to ask questions or offer comments. Unless you have a team up against it–and how many small businesses have that?–don’t try to excel at every social media platform or predict social media trends. Just establish or improve your presence on a platform that works for you and be your welcoming, responsive and engaging self.

Related: Best Web Hosting for Growing Your Small Business

Lastly, and we won’t give a number to this lesson because it’s so overarching, make the collection and interpretation of data and analytics part of your daily operation as much as possible. You will be so much more informed and confident in the decisions you make for your business if you have data that captures customer behavior, tracks your progress and helps you identify trends.

The New York Times report we mentioned came in The Morning newsletter and noted that the United States has reached a COVID milestone:

“The total number of Americans dying each day—from any cause—is no longer historically abnormal.” In other words, that COVID pandemic surge in what experts call “excess deaths”—or the number of deaths that exceeds what normally would be expected—has ended.

That welcome news may not come as a surprise. It has felt for a while now that the pandemic is over, even if lingering deaths from COVID and case statistics remind us that COVID retains an unnerving staying power.

But we welcome the milestone nonetheless, even as we prepare for whatever new challenges lie ahead.

A version of this article originally appeared in StartupNation’s new weekly newsletter, The Start. Click here to subscribe!

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova

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