It might be an understatement to say that the global pandemic of COVID-19 has been a learning experience for all businesses large and small. Every type of business regardless of location has had to adapt to a changing environment, purchasing behaviors, supply chain problems, employee layoffs, and alternative approaches to operations. Businesses that survived the onslaught of changes should reflect over the last 12-18 months to ensure that the trials and tribulations they endured become a learning experience.
Lesson #1 – Business is Increasing
The first lesson learned might not necessarily be the result of a downturn in business. Through the right pivoting movements, many businesses actually saw sales increase due to new or expanded target markets, different ways to operate, or unique pricing. For some businesses, the rapid and expanded growth were viewed as “growing pains.” The lesson learned is to be keenly aware of what buyers are seeking and understand how to change methods of operations, marketing, product, and service offerings, etc. to immediately meet the needs of the marketplace. Better to be the leader of the competition rather than a follower.
Lesson #2 – How to Remain Functional with a Missing Element
Assuming most businesses run fairly smooth with tested processes, procedures, equipment, supply chains, employees, etc., what happens when one of these important elements goes missing? This happens all the time in business and certainly happened during the early stages of the global pandemic. For businesses that survived, the lesson is to always be prepared for both the expected and unexpected. Playing a “what if” game can be a lifesaver for a business. What if this happens, what do we do? What if that happens, what do we do? Being prepared in business is similar to an insurance policy. If a potential threat materializes, then being prepared was one of the best things a business could do. If a potential threat never materializes, nothing has been lost by analyzing various scenarios and deciding what action would be necessary to keep the business running properly. To take this lesson one step further, businesses should also figure out what to if the worst-case scenario becomes a reality. The difference in preparing in advance might be the difference between remaining in business and not remaining in business…quite a different outcome.
Lesson #3 – Know What Customers Want
When the pandemic hit and people worldwide became confined to their homes, businesses had to understand what buyers wanted and adapt their operations, marketing, offerings, pricing, etc. to maintain business the best they could. It was imperative for businesses to know what their customers wanted. Pandemic or no pandemic, businesses must always know who their customers are and what they want. Otherwise, a business has no idea who to market to or what those buyers in the target market want to purchase.
Lesson #4 – Establish Business Goals
Many small businesses never really plan and never establish goals. If a business did not have established goals before the pandemic, the lesson learned is that operating a business just day in and day out letting what happens just happen is not the key to success. Establishing goals, however, is a way to keep the business on track and headed in the right direction even while enduring a global pandemic. With established goals, everyone knows what is expected and what the business needs to do to reach those goals. Setting goals allows a business to plan for needed employees, seek out new vendors, consider new marketing campaigns, increase inventory, revise methods of operations, or expand delivery options.
Learn from the Past
So, learning from the past can be a major ingredient for a business seeking to build a solid, successful future. Don’t let the lessons of the past be wasted.