How will your business change due to the Coronavirus, and how can you prepare for it?

Róbert Macháč
Mar 2020

Author's note: when reading this article, don't be discouraged by the negative beginning, just read on, and I promise it will improve over time. 🙂

Resilience is the key characteristic when managing dynamic and unpredictable challenges.

I am convinced that the future belongs to those who understand the well-known crossfit slogan: Prepare for the unknown 💪

Unfavorable situation, instability and significant unpredictability - this will define the markets in the upcoming months.

It is quite common these days that you read 300 tweets about the Wall Street stocks plunge, 20 negative headlines about the upcoming recession, and watch a video of people dying from Coronavirus and becoming homeless in big cities as a result of it. But don't let this information influence your sober thinking. It is necessary to realize that the media lives out of attention, and frankly - what spreads better than fear and danger?

My opinion

In my opinion this "crisis" is different from the previous ones, however, it is very similar to them. At least according to the Strauss-Howe generation theory, also known as the four-phase theory.

  • Height / Peak
  • The awakening
  • Disintegration
  • Crisis

If you are interested in these cycles, I suggest you take a look at this Wikipedia article.

What do you think in which cycle are we right now? Exactly, it looks like the beginning of the crisis. After each crisis, however, growth will come until the generation reaches its peak again. So far, I guess I'm not telling you anything new.

So let's look at this cycle as a period of time that simply existed and will exist. Is it possible to outlast this period without harm and even profit out of it? (Profit does not necessarily mean financial profit).

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Here are my 5 humble advice that I have observed, deduced, or simply asked much wiser people than myself:

1. This crisis is not a quick cycle, it is a market transformation

In a clear cyclical crisis, everything goes back to normal and the market starts to behave "normally" and relatively predictably with growth potential. After this crisis, I do not think it will be like that. I own a business and work in the field of User Experience and Technology. During the last couple years I have been observing how people work and how they include the use of technology in their businesses. So far, not every company has paid attention to this.

However, as it turns out today, companies which are already using technologies for some time and make better use of their potential, are far ahead of their competitors. They have processes such as home office, digital meetings, or they use efficient digital tools for remote team communication like Slack or Trello.

And this is just the beginning, the furthest away are companies that can continue to serve their customers seamlessly remotely over the Internet during this crisis. These are companies that have digitized previous offline processes and devoted themselves to great user experience at a time when they were doing well and growing.

As I mentioned above, the transformation crisis will clearly show us new opportunities for growth and ways of working. What we were used to will become obsolete and uncompetitive. Companies that are unable or unwilling to transform will be in decline.

Here are some real examples:

  • Increasing number of users of streaming services such as Netflix, HBO GO etc. Many of these users will remain paying customers of these services even after the end of the Coronavirus crisis because they have experienced the comfort and value of the service.
  • Growth of online food shoppers: Proof of Concepts (e.g. Amazon Fresh, Tesco home delivery, will become strong and stable players in this segment. People will find out how much time and effort they can save by not going personally to the stores. This will essentially change their way of grocery shopping.
  • Companies will find out that flexible working hours and home office can be equally efficient and less costly. These benefits will become a normal part of our working life.

So, if you have been delaying the digitization of your business and did not care much about digital user experience so far, it is the right time to start working on it.

2. Keep calm when everyone is going crazy.

The media often does not distinguish between hard facts, soft facts and speculation. I don't blame them, they know what they're doing. However, quick decisions made in fear and under pressure can be counterproductive for you and your business. Don’t ruin your future by too quick action. Stay in context and communicate. If you are going to make any change, communicate it with your colleagues and/or loved ones. Create your own "crisis management team" and make decisions based on facts with cool heads.

Review all possible development scenarios and decide as if you were a startup: iteratively - piece by piece, and test your decisions based on data.

We already have a relatively big amount of data about the Coronavirus, so just pay attention to them and try to understand these data.

I recommend:

  • Data by business segment
  • Data by country and business segment choice

3. Business agility

Go through all the processes in your business and remove everything unnecessary. Now is the perfect time to increase your agility and implement a lean business model. But don’t hesitate to take a risk every now and then, and make a decision also out of process, simply because the market will require your response right in that moment.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

4. Think of it as an opportunity

Naturally, we are seeking comfort, growth and a sense of security. Therefore, I think that after this crisis, our generation will achieve unprecedented heights. I believe that growth will be bigger than that after the end of the 2008/2009 mortgage crisis. Our generation already experienced one of the best periods of time of our mankind (and this book proves it: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think)

We will want to return to this period as soon as possible and we will strive to exceed it. #skyisthelimit

5. Conclusion: context

However, in order to reach or even exceed the pre-crisis level of the economy and human well-being, we will first have to face and overcome the trigger of the current situation - the Coronavirus. We must not forget that our health is the most important thing we have. It is much more important than short-term or long-term profit.

However, if you do everything in your power to maintain your health and that of your family, then take action to benefit from this crisis. If you have not done so after 2008 and have not used the crisis as an opportunity, do so at least now. Don't miss another chance. Which other generation could have experienced such a rapid fall and an even bigger, incredible growth in such a short time?

And since I started with a sports slogan, I will finish it with another one.

Ironman: Anything is possible. 🍀

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