The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reported that the number of active business owners fell by 3.3 million—or 22 percent—from February to April 2020. COVID has been a once-in-a-lifetime economic disturbance that has impacted all businesses to one degree or another and throttled some companies altogether. When public policy tells the population, except for essential workers, to stay at home and minimize person-to-person contact, all industries are disrupted. However, even with a displaced workforce and socially distanced consumer base, many organizations survived, some even thriving thanks to post-COVID business innovation.
Innovation is another way of describing a new way to deliver value. In pre-COVID times, the biggest obstacle to innovation was a lack of courage to execute it. New ideas come with risks, and most businesses are risk-averse.
Changing Up the Way You Do Business
Today, innovation is essential to survival. Innovation can best be defined as an idea transformed into reality that produces new profits and growth in the marketplace. Innovation is as much an attitude as a process. It takes courageous leadership and a commitment to certain post-COVID strategies and philosophies:
- Flexibility. There is no status quo. COVID has changed the way we work, shop, communicate, and operate supply chains. Companies need to be able to pivot on a dime to meet new challenges. That means taking a hard look at existing business plans and tweaking them to accommodate change. It may mean reinventing your business.
- Reexamine Your Value Proposition. The pandemic has changed buyer behavior. Most notably, the willingness of consumers to spend more on a product or service to avoid the risk of COVID. Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft were quick to shift their model from transporting people to delivering goods. Restaurants reorganized to provide takeout and al fresco dining, and brick and mortar retailers moved resources to reinforce their e-commerce operations. Think through your core values and find a way to meet new customer expectations. Most importantly, once you have an innovative idea, pour resources into marketing to get the message out.
- Go Where Your Customers Are. While vaccines have allowed for removing many restrictions, small businesses had to survive for 18 months while their customers worked, lived, and shopped from home. Survivors got in front of their market by doubling down on digital marketing and utilizing tools like Zoom, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. Other digital technologies assisted in processing sales, inventory, fulfillment, and customer service.
A great example of flexibility, reinvention, and getting in front of customers virtually is Amelia’s Toffee Shop. A candy store in Florida whose hook was the use of unique ingredients such as lavender or licorice, Amelia’s was blindsided when their wholesale business disappeared overnight. They immediately shifted to a direct-to-consumer approach updating their website, running flash sales and email campaigns. Embracing e-commerce kept their head above water, but it was a reevaluation of their processes that put them over the top. Amelia’s had access to medical-grade alcohol. A tweak of their production line and Amelia’s Toffee Shop was suddenly in the red-hot sanitizing cleaning fluid business.
Ready To Innovate?
Innovation can be a slippery concept, particularly if you have been a master of the status quo. If you have a small San Diego-based business, ASCEND Business Advisory can provide a fresh set of experienced eyes to review your post-COVID operation and suggest ways to better deal with the new business environment. Contact us today at 888 297-3321, and let’s discuss the opportunities.