Twitter was originally a podcast search engine. Starbucks sold espresso machines. Samsung traded dried fish and noodles…
Reinvention and adaptation have been the secret weapon of many successful companies. And when the current COVID-19 crisis subsides, it will be the businesses that pivoted that will emerge stronger than ever. Across the globe, it’s no longer business as usual – so you can’t rely on your usual business models. It’s clear that, for many, the time for change is now – but how to pivot quickly and smartly is no easy task. Here are five vital things to take into account before you undertake your reinvention.
1) Understand the Challenges
Individual businesses will be faced with different obstacles. Before you set out on an overhaul, its important to be extremely clear about your problems. Think about them in different timeframes.
The short-term is how to deal with general lockdowns, social distancing measures and the closure of brick and mortar stores. Even if these problems are subsiding, having a plan in place is imperative as we may find ourselves facing yet more waves of the virus.
The medium-term is until a vaccine is found, or herd immunity is achieved – current best guesses are 12-18 months. To understand these problems, look at countries beginning their post-lockdown recovery, and see what’s trending there.
The long-term is the post-COVID world. The pandemic will certainly have lasting implications on businesses, governments and most importantly, consumer behavior.
While you clearly need to focus on your most immediate problems, don’t lose sight of those long-term issues – they may guide you towards a better reinvention.
2) Take Stock of your Assets
Know thyself. As you reinvent, you don’t want to lose sight of what makes your business unique. And you also don’t want to flatter yourself into thinking you have no vulnerabilities. Reinvention isn’t razing your house and erecting a brand-new one. Nor is it a new coat of paint and some shiny window-boxes. Reinvention starts with understanding what the most integral parts of your structure are, and redesigning around those beams.
3) New Opportunities
It wasn’t very long ago that the word “Disruption” was revered in business and tech. Now that we face a massive global disruption, we may have lost our taste for it. Yet the reasons behind our fascination with disruption are still sound: when old models break there is space for new growth and new opportunities. So while you are facing down your challenges, keep an eye open for what new prospects are emerging. As people have been forced to navigate an almost exclusively digital environment, markets and customers that are thought of as technologically adverse are adapting at amazing speed. This could lead to:
Crisis creates opportunity, so don’t miss your chance to leap in new directions.
4) Setting Goals
If you don’t know what success looks like how can you ever achieve it? You have to have metrics to see whether or not your pivot is working. Some clear goals you can set for your business include:
Of course it’s important to be realistic and not hope for a wholescale renaissance within a month. Comparisons to pre-COVID traffic and sales are probably not going to be helpful. But its equally important not to overthink your plans: give them a test run, and if they work? Great! If not? On to the next. Reinvention isn’t just one massive change all at once – it’s a process that requires flexibility and the ability to make many small changes on the fly.
5) Proceed with Purpose
Half-measures don’t often yield success. Once you have a plan in place, then it’s time to step on the gas! This is a moment of historic change - you should play it smart, but you can’t play it safe. This means investing in your reinvention to do the job right. It could mean:
This might seem daunting, but a tentative step towards adaptation might mean too little too late – and you do not want to be left behind. So put that plan in place and keep your shoulder to the wheel.
Keep these five things in mind as you take your next leap. And if you want to some more advice, strategy and help with marketing and communications, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Venture, we live for Reinventions.
Arlene Dickinson's new book tackles the difficult art of reinvention
Arlene Dickinson on Eat North
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