It’s no secret that the majority of the businesses in the United States experience a significant blow during the pandemic.
In fact, according to a Yelp.Inc, more than 97,966 businesses permanently closed their doors in the wake of COVID-19 when the government implemented national and local restrictions.
While it’s been more than a year since the pandemic started, and everything is starting to go back to normal now, we cannot deny that the pandemic has taught us many things about being in business.
Here are five lessons worth sharing:
1. Creativity will be your best friend
Being creative is a vital part of being an entrepreneur. However, in times of crisis, this skill becomes especially important as different business problems challenge the survival of businesses.
The truth of the matter is: there is always a solution to every problem, but sometimes, it requires a great deal of creativity to arrive there. Sure, applying for government assistance, such as the PPP loans, could be a great financial resource, but it can only get the business so far. On top of the assistance offered by the federal government, companies must find a way to keep their business striving amid the pandemic.
Take Moriarty’s Gem Art, for example. This family-owned jewelry store in Crown Point, Indiana, was forced to close down its doors in March 2020 because of the pandemic. However, when they shut their doors, they knew they had to develop a solution to keep the revenue going and their clients engaged.
Eventually, they came up with the idea of a gem show where they feature all types of gemstones from their company’s inventory. They started live-streaming their gem show, build a website and advertised it through their website and email. According to Jeff Moriarty in his interview with SHRM.org, not only did their Livestream helped the company stay connected with the customers, but it also “garnered tons of sales.”
Some companies, like restaurant businesses, expanded their services and included food deliveries as people weren’t exactly visiting on-site anymore. Retail stores have now expanded their operations online and established eCommerce stores where their clients can buy their products.
All these are just the tip of a huge iceberg. Sometimes, adapting to the current crisis could mean taking on the risk of temporarily (or permanently) changing operating models.
2. Everyone is ESSENTIAL
There’s no denying that some employees have been considered as replaceable and low-tier before the pandemic. But when COVID-19 came, the perception took a 180-degree turn.
Companies came to realize that these workers are the arms and legs of the company. Without them, there is a very high chance that the company won’t succeed. This gives most businesses the cause to reconsider the degree of respect they give to everyone in the company and consider them as essential – regardless of their position.
3. Leaders play a role in mitigating employee stress
COVID-19 was indeed an unprecedented time. There was no telling when it would end and what impact it would have on businesses. Employees, in turn, were constantly worried about contracting the virus and ending up in hospitals. Additionally, the declining economy presented a threat to their job securities, which compounded their worries even more.
Business owners must understand that their employees, too, are experiencing a great deal of stress. If left unaddressed, this could lead to the decline in their mental health, ultimately affecting their morale and productivity.
A research by Ohio State University in 2020 states that, “A global pandemic can lead some people to think about their own mortality, which will understandably make them more stressed and less engaged at work." The researchers further explained that effective managers could offset this challenge by being attentive to their employee’s personal and emotional needs. They then concluded that those whose managers were
During uncertain times, compassion and patience are necessary. Leaders, especially, have the power to help their employees deal with pandemic stress. For one, they can be transparent about the company's current status – how it’s holding up, what the possibilities are, and what they need to do to survive. In turn, this can motivate the employees to be even more productive and take part in the business's survival.
Employees play a big role in the success of the company. By keeping them engaged and productive, businesses have better chances of getting out of the crisis victorious.
4. Preparing for a crisis is critical
If there’s one thing businesses should always put in mind when starting and running a business, it’s that the future is uncertain. No one predicted that COVID-19 would be as widespread as it is today. Also, in case you haven’t read about it yet, many articles have reported that we’re living in an era of pandemics. There could be more coming our way in the future.
While many may survive this pandemic, there’s no assurance that the same number of companies will survive the next.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s to come prepared for situations like this. The disease caught everyone off-guard. Those who didn’t prepare for times like these ultimately met their demise.
That said, the best thing that companies can do is to remain adaptive to change. The economy is volatile, and human activities could quickly cause it to shift downwards. Companies must pivot through the rapid changes should another health and economic crisis happen again.
5. A solid online presence is vital
When the lockdown and stay-at-home protocols were implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, most people were forced to stay inside, unless they need to procure the essentials (i.e., groceries, food, medicine, etc.). For other non-essential businesses, this means closing their doors and finding different ways to conduct business – specifically those that don’t involve contact.
This is then where an online presence comes in handy.
As people get locked up at home, customers turned to the internet to get what they need – be it clothing, electronics, and even groceries and food. Businesses, in turn, are answering this demand. Most retail stores have transferred most of their operations online to cater to the needs of their customers.
Because of the convenience it offers, most people will likely continue using a store’s online services if they need something. If a business hasn’t established an online presence yet, this is the perfect time to do it.
Aside from that, creating an online presence also allows you to answer the questions some of your customers (or potential customers) may have, should they have any. These days, consumers often turn to a company’s social media accounts for customer support. Faster responses usually translate to happy customers. The happier the customers are, the more likely they’ll spread the word about the business.
The Bottom Line
The pandemic has taught businesses a lot of things. But one of the greatest lessons we can learn from it is that the future is not promised. There’s a high chance that another crisis may happen and again, endanger the survival of businesses. However, companies can take proactive steps and prepare for what’s to come.
As businesses open and employees go back to working at the office, it’s likely that everyone will have a lot of adjustments to make. We hope these business lessons could be of help to entrepreneurs as they navigate through the ‘new normal’ of the business in the post-pandemic world.