With the changes happening in the business world as a result of COVID-19, small business owners must intentionally be proactive. How a small business owner and entrepreneur respond to this crisis will determine whether the business will still be functional few months from now.
In the second part of this series on Leading a Small Business in Chaotic Times I will be sharing on what I term The 2 Dynamic Actions that small business owners and managers should be working on which I know if well executed can put the business on a positive trajectory. This is not the time to sit and pretend the crisis will just go away, yes, COVID-19 will end someday but it will not leave any business in a good state except the founders and executives take charge.
1. Develop a clear road map (action plan) to digitize operations that will enhance effectiveness.
COVID-19 has pushed forward digital adoption faster than we expected even down to developing countries and semi urban areas with poor technology infrastructure. With social distancing in effect and remote working increasing, digitizing operations is not only for large companies, small businesses should be intentional at developing an action plan to digitize operations that will enhance them to serve their customers.
Like in Cameroon, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and other countries, small businesses are still slow to digitize basic operations that could increase their abilities to serve more customers and increase profitability. Example of basic operations that small businesses in Africa could digitize
– Receiving money through e-wallets (mobile money payment)
– Receiving orders through website, Facebook pages, and business WhatsApp numbers
– Booking services of local delivery agents and having them deliver customers orders received online
– Intentionally investing in social media marketing (pictures, videos). Managing business social media pages now by social media managers is imperative
– Organizing interactive sessions with customers on skype, zoom, Facebook live to maintain the bond and talk about new products
The truth is, as a business, your processes need to change to accommodate the current environment.
2. Track customers behavior changes
A lot can change in the midst of chaos (crisis) and behavioral change of people should be a serious concern for any business person. Crisis creates stress, fear, tension, affect spending habits and more. Any change in behavior affect how customers perceive the product, the brand and the experience the business create for them. In an article by 360thinkers, I said, “The “New Normal” will force businesses to pivot their model of operations and culture.
COVID-19 has led to consumers forming new habits & developing new interests, staying and working from home is more intense than few months back. It is imperative for executives to start investing time and human resources to analyze and anticipate how they will pivot their model of operations to serve their clients better as they develop new habits. That is putting your client’s new habits at the forefront of any product creative process and seeking new ways and skills to keep your teams virtually engaged and committed to the vision”
It is important for business owners to track the changes in customer behavior caused by COVID-19. As a business executive, you have to understand the feelings people have in a crisis. This awareness will enable the business to adapt to serve customers better and being decisive by not leaving business operations to chance.
Business leaders should tap into COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity for growth, development, and greater future success. Just as a crisis can destroy, it can also be a time of rebirth and positive change.
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