We often hear how startups “disrupt” an industry, taking over a whole market. Most of the time, this is explained by the great ideas founders had and how they deployed a product that simply was so much better than the competition. But in reality, this isn’t the whole picture.
While business ideas and product development are extremely vital factors, people often overlook the importance of opportunity!
There are always external factors that enable certain ideas to thrive that otherwise may never succeed. For virtually any idea, we could find examples of how external circumstances became an opportunity and enabled ideas and the businesses around them.
And there is such great opportunity to help people during the current COVID-19 crisis. To be clear, I wish we didn’t have to fight with the coronavirus; the pandemic is awful for everyone, it disrupts the way we live, the way we work, and the way we socialize with others.
Nevertheless, we are in the midst of this crisis, and as entrepreneurs, we have to adapt by changing our habits and fixing the multitude of shortcomings that have been ignored prior to the outbreak, which are now becoming apparent.
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Seize the opportunity to help
Realizing the potential of this major shift is the key. This is a time where virtually everything is being reevaluated, whether it be healthcare systems, work habits or market mechanisms.
It is a chance for leaders and their businesses to prove helpful to society by discovering new markets.
You can become known as a swiftly performing leader in your space by identifying great current challenges, such as a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE), and resolving those problems with your own toolkit.
- Adjust your current offering
- Leverage your technology
- Adapt your marketing
If you can, help those who need it pro bono! This is your chance to make a positive difference in the world and show everyone that your company is not just a legal construct on paper, but a team of caring humans.
From non-essential business to essential
Let me give you an example of how we followed these guidelines at my company, Wing.
While we typically provide a concierge-type personal assistant service to well-off busy professionals to handle errands and other menial tasks, we’ve adapted our typically luxurious tech to be used as a resource to counter the COVID-19 crisis.
There are three major areas in which we did our best to leave a positive mark.
We adjusted our offering
Since our users are mostly staying at home at this point due to shelter in place orders, we quickly pivoted to provide information on COVID-19 related questions. We’ve formed new business partnerships to meet the shift in demand, learning how to best serve our users in quarantine.
We’re leveraging our technology
Since we’ve built a complex system that brings together our users with third-party service providers to run our platform, we have a powerful engine that can be applied in various areas.
To mitigate one of today’s big problems, a lack of coordination for exchanging PPE, we quickly built a free web app that brings together people who are willing to donate PPE with hospitals and other healthcare organizations that need PPE.
We adapted our marketing
We originally marketed our app to busy executives, because people in these professions tend to have the greatest need for a personal assistant.
However, realizing that frontline healthcare workers are being crushed by the immense inflow of COVID-19 patients made us realize that they now have an even greater need for help. Hence, we are now offering our app for free to healthcare workers across the country.
Spread the word and inspire
We are all facing disruption right now, and there is no way we can escape it. But we can be proactive in the ways we deal with it.
Think about how you can take your company’s offering and apply it differently. You will surely be able to adjust what you offer, explore other ways to make what you have more valuable, or find other places to sell what you offer. Ideally, you can find a mix that will reinforce all of these elements.
Make sure you tell your customers about these activities in order to spread the word. Leverage your own social media channels, and share with the groups of people and organizations you help.
When you are able to show the ability to adapt to a crisis and turn it into an opportunity, you will impress not only your customers, but also potential investors.
Be a helpful part of society that does the right thing at the right time, and you may very well become one of the diamonds that emerge from this crisis stronger than they were before.