By Catherine Lang-Cline
All of the businesses that grew up along with us have seen a number of challenging local, national, and international events that have affected our businesses. Now, we as entrepreneurs and owners, have a challenge in front of us that means we may have to change how we do business entirely. A pandemic, a shut down, an overall lack of desire to do business causes us to wonder what our next step is. What can we do to grow our business or even stay in business?
As owners and entrepreneurs we can function very comfortably in (and hopefully remember) life in the start-up phase. With everything turned upside down, we may need to revisit the idea and the mindset of starting a business, again. Start by asking yourself, if you were going to start your business today, what would you need? Speaking from our experiences, when we started, we needed just a couple of computers. We would still need those but today we would not need the fax machine, the printers, or even the same software. In 15 years, everything has evolved, including the companies that were our clients at the beginning. And of those clients, their needs changed in a matter of weeks. So rather than keep on doing what we are doing, what is it that we can do now?
Start by strategizing how you can help your clients based on the business model you have today. Does it just need to be reworked or does it need to be completely overhauled? How do you know what they need? Ask them. You have the relationship and they need help. You are not rebuilding a relationship with them but rather making it more significant. Start with your biggest client, then see if all of your other clients need the same thing. You may find out that your clients want on-line shopping, no contact delivery, or enhanced safety requirements. What do you need to do to pivot? Is it virtual meetings? Automatic systems? You get the idea.
How to get it done? Now more than ever we have to rely on our team and the variety of skills that they bring to the table. Think of it as building a raft and while you are figuring out how to get off of the island, someone needs to know how to cut trees, one knows how to collect the trees, and another person knows how to make vines into rope to tie it all together. The leader leads and relies on the specialties of his or her team to deliver. Delegate, assign, and give them responsibility. Get comfortable in the space between then and now and maybe emerge with a whole new modern business.
The pandemic is going to go on longer than expected and business can’t wait and whether you like it or not, we are all being retrained on how to do business. We need to embrace this change and make our businesses stronger. That might include brushing the dust off of your business plan and refashioning it for today’s world. The best part is that as entrepreneurs, problem solving is what we do.