Reimagining your business strategy before you’ve even launched, or are in the early stages of a startup, adds a level of stress no budding entrepreneur wants to take on. However, such is the reality of the world we live in today. Outlined below are a number of considerations, recommendations and strategies to consider as you re-shape your business plan.
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Build a flexible strategy
- Your strategy document will need to be a day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month living document.
- Reimagine your customer journey to look at all contact points to understand what changes and modifications are needed for your business plan.
- Determine the adjustments needed to reduce risk and maximize the “new” customer experience and lay out a path to that point.
- Ensure this strategy is a lateral extension of your pre-pandemic plans wherever possible to align your capabilities with the pivot (minimizing additional infrastructure where possible).
Reimagine your business by leveraging longer-term trends created by the pandemic Some of the trends that indicate they’ll be around a while include:
- A shift to more local sourcing and shorter supply chains.
- A general downshift in retail.
- A significant reduction in commuting.
- Dramatically increased online spending and utilization.
- Social distancing (may be here for a sustained period, may also be the new normal in certain scenarios).
- Increased demand on technology and virtual interfaces.
- Substantial shift to work from home models.
- Increased recreational time that comes with remote work and commute burden reduction.
- A shift from large group activities to small group activities.
These are just a few other aspects to consider in this new world order
Communicate really well. This is probably the biggest differentiator between those businesses that are thriving and surviving and those that are suffering the worst financially. As your business plan realigns during this time of transition, it’s incredibly important to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, from your investors through to your team members. If you have existing customers, communicating regularly and as transparently as possible is critical.
An example of this would be the Common House, a social club group that swiftly implemented a branded, daily newsletter that included everything from coping with the shift to work-from-home challenges and easy recipes through to fun health tips. These communications were empathetic, topical and on point. They also allowed the Common House team to communicate and promote new virtual social experiences they were implementing to maintain the strong community they had built pre-pandemic.
Pivot to different offerings that leverage the trends driven by the pandemic.
A great example of this is Snowing in Space, a startup in the nitro-coffee space. Before the pandemic, Snowing in Space provided kegerators to businesses for their team members, and this was a large portion of the company’s income.
When COVID shutdowns closed most office buildings, Snowing in Space ramped up its canned nitro coffee sales and expanded its coffee bean business online to augment the lost revenue and broaden its offering to pivot to the new world they found themselves in.
Default to online whenever possible, whether that’s sales, provision of services, virtual meetings, events or training.
Use of QR Codes and platforms for signups, waivers, menus, delivery and what would normally be paper forms.
Develop pre-order forms and platforms for contactless or curbside pickup options or other in-person activities.
Keep people safe in your business using education, signage and protocols:
- Stock up on personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Develop effective signage and systems to enhance compliance.
- Make it easy for people to change or cancel their plans.
- Use reservation forms or platforms to avoid disappointment or overcrowding.
- Consider simple screening tests like contactless infrared thermometers.
- Enforce occupancy limits. This may involve rotating team schedules.
- Practice social distancing and be aware of time and type of contact.
- Enhance cleaning protocols to cover all contact surfaces.
- Consider antimicrobial air filters and systems.
- Update policies ranging from work-from-home to sick leave policies.
Minimize your legal and liability risks:
- Create and/or update liability waivers and consent forms using online platforms or QR codes
- Screen all employees and guests before they enter your establishment.
- Develop internal contact tracing systems, these could be critical in the future and backtracking is tough.
Pivoting is tough! Pivoting prior to launch, or when you have very little preliminary data is also tough. The good news is that firmly entrenched businesses that have been doing business as usual for a sustained period will often delay a pivot or even avoid it altogether. As a startup, the very flexibility this affords can be part of a winning strategy.
My team and I have found that early-stage businesses are typically nimbler than long established companies. Working with startups and early-stage teams is incredibly rewarding as we reimagine options with these teams that have barely seen the ink dry on their startup plans.