The Entrepreneur and COVID-19
Here is a cold hard truth to think about: human history has been shaped by the presence of epidemics.
There are numerous events that can change the trajectory of businesses – but few reach a major scale and change the course of government policies. Examples in history are numerous: the Black Deathchanged the European system from feudalism to the modern contracts, the Spanish Flu changed the advancement of healthcare and prevention of diseases, and the SARS epidemic led to the rise of Alibaba, which eventually became the leading retailer in Asia.
The COVID-19 epidemic is one of these events, and we are already seeing the effects it has on the behavior of businesses and consumers. Some businesses have closed down, while others are beginning to thrive due to new opportunities. This state of affairs may seem scary, but in my view I see that it really helps to break down these effects into several digestible ones and see them in a better perspective.
What are these perspectives of impact?
Pandemics have various forms of impact, which can affect the economics, psychology, and biological aspects of a nation – and the intensity will depend on the death rates of the disease, and the timing it takes to spread.
When we apply this perspective to COVID-19, the biggest biological impact has been on the elderly, and the psychological impact has shown up in the stock markets that have endured under confidence and lack of productivity due to low morale and restrictions of freedom on travel.
The last part is about the economic effect, which shows up in the form of disruptions in services and the demand for products. There are many things that the pandemic affects negatively on a global scale, and it can be very discouraging to you if you want to own or continue with your business.
There is some good news, though.
In an effort to normalize the many impacts that are happening in the economic and psychological states – the condition for this fulfillment is to solve the biological impact and promote containment. There are many entrepreneurs around the world that are fighting off the uncertainty through certain methods, which you can apply to help get your business back on track.
The navigation of broken supply chains
This is probably the most obvious implication of the global problems that are resulting from this issue – and the direct result is impacting your ability to manage, send, and receive inventory. You see it in the mass layoffs that are happening in businesses that are heavily dependent on consumer goods, as they are vulnerable to non-existent or low inventory levels.
While this sounds challenging enough, it leads to scarcity in global markets, which makes the problem worse. You might start to experience competition from larger businesses because of the pressure to stock inventory from other countries, which drives the prices of goods up while you get less products.
To avoid this problem, there are some things you can do – for instance, getting a local investor or supplier who can work with your business, such as if you are selling furniture or working in boutiques. This can lead to particularly fruitful partnerships in the future, and allow you to grow your business even after the pandemic ends.
Giving a new meaning to brand loyalty
Are you struggling with finding new customers for your goods or new clients for your services? Do you have great deals of inventory just lying around in your store? You might try to use social media to get new customers, but the increasing crowding makes it more difficult to let your unique voice be heard.
You might wonder what the solution is – I did so too for a long time, and came to a conclusion that may seem strange to you – to not try. The truth is that maintaining a consistent customer flow can strain you greatly, especially at this time when there are plenty of external pressures beyond your control.
Instead, study the factors you can control. An instance would be if you are on Instagram, and noticed your marketing campaigns losing the interest of target customers over a month or two. Rather than the usual solution of spending so much energy and money recapturing these customers, redirect your energy and money to retarget campaigns by focusing on your faithful customers.
Since they are more familiar with who you are and your brand, they are better able to support and welcome the changes you make in your business – and this is a perfect example of brand loyalty.
Finding the beauty of adaptation in the midst of challenges
Being an entrepreneur means opening yourself up to new risks and challenges.
The good news about challenges is that in the midst of chaos, there are still valuable opportunities you can find. One of the visionary entrepreneurs, Pravin Shah, believes that this is a hard time for many entrepreneurs but we should always be optimistic about every change and take it as an opportunity to grow ourselves. While the reality seems painful and unpleasant when you are staring at job losses and uncertainty in the health and economic sectors, it is a tool to help free some people from unpleasant jobs and explore new opportunities in the global economy.
That does not mean I diminish the struggles you are going through as a result of the crisis though. I am simply here to encourage you that the presence of a crisis does not spell your end.
Here is a tip that has greatly helped me in re-framing problems like these: it gives you an opportunity to balance out your projects with much-needed R&R, and give some attention to your online store and marketing. After all, the online store is the future of businesses in pandemics like these today – fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your online presence:
- Adding new products and imagery to existing products
- Improving your website and homepage
- Hosting master classes and webinars
- Starting blogs and talking about your experiences through writing, as long as they are effective to your audience
Aside from these, consider if there are additional ways you can adapt. If you have non-physical goods, you can get creative – such as offering online classes for students who want to study a variety of fields, which helps to manage social distancing, stay within the guidelines, and open up ways for earning some income.
If you are among the many in the world that are struggling with a way forward from this crisis, know that you are not alone. Choose to see it on the bright side though, and start capitalizing on the underlying changes that are happening.