As we confront our shared new reality of living through a global pandemic, we are also faced with a new business reality. An existential question arises, namely: What we are we going to do as leaders to ensure our businesses come through this global health crisis as strong as possible? We don’t yet know how long individuals, communities, cities, or countries will need to implement the most austere social practices to flatten the curve. The business ramifications of this crisis are only beginning.
We offer Five Business Strategies for Surviving COVID-19 as a guide for bolstering your business’s ability to mitigate these impacts to the greatest extent possible. It is our hope that by implementing these strategies your business will be able to exit this pandemic crisis stronger, more aligned, and better able to maximize growth opportunities.
Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Now is the time to innovate. Now is the time to lead.
1. Proactive Physical & Digital Security: As a global business community, we are closing our physical offices and moving to operate virtually with colleagues, partners, customers, and vendors. However, as this occurs, the risk increases of digital security breaches. The amount of phishing emails and scams pitching COVID-19 health information has already surged, and cyber criminals are racing to capitalize on people’s fears and gain access to personal information, break into corporate infrastructures, hijack systems, and steal data.
Now is the time to remind everyone in your organization of this danger. Underscore the need to not open or download suspicious emails, to think before you click, and to practice extra vigilance and heightened awareness. This can prevent network breaches and data theft and protect your enterprise and employees.
2. Upgrade Processes & Systems: A constant tug-of-war exists between introducing new systems and processes to increase productivity and efficiency and balancing the inherent disruptions to business that often result. We are currently looking at an indefinite period of business disruption, and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at internal processes and systems and identify what works and what does not. Armed with this knowledge, you can create the strategies that will fix any issues discovered, taking the necessary action to implement solutions while ensuring minimal interruption to business. Implementing these changes now will improve your organization’s capabilities to better deliver to customers.
3. Assess & Grow Your People: We all know it’s important to undertake rigorous performance assessments of our organizations and people. Yet all too often, under pressure from our rigorous schedule, performance assessments and effective coaching are reduced to a bare minimum. Now is the time to purposefully dig down and conduct deep appraisals of your people. It is the time to have meaningful conversations, keeping in mind best practices of social distancing and leveraging virtual technologies that can move forward the careers of your greatest asset — your employees.
4. Sharpen Your Value Proposition: What is our value proposition, and how do we best articulate and communicate it to the marketplace? This is a question that is always top-of-mind with world-class business leaders. Given our suddenly changed world, this question needs to be vigorously explored in this new paradigm. How does the marketplace view your core value proposition? Why is it even more important today than yesterday, and why will it be even more important once an end to the pandemic is in sight? Ask yourself these questions with your key leadership team. Use the answers to define and communicate what you deliver and the differences you can make.
5. Find Opportunities For Growth: Your business exists by selling your products and delivering your services to customers and developing and leveraging key strategic partnerships with resellers, integrators, distributors, and suppliers. Take your sharpened value proposition and look at the partnerships and possible acquisitions that can make the biggest positive impact on your business. Review your most important contracts with your most important customers. Is there an opportunity to revisit them with that sharpened value proposition? Whether you are a public, private equity-owned, venture capital-backed, or privately held company, strategic opportunities for growth will crystallize in this new economic reality. It’s your job, and the job of your leadership team, to find them.
About the authors: Greg Selker, Julie Davidson, and Stephen Spagnuolo are all directors at the Baltimore office at Stanton Chase, where they focus on technology companies and the cyber security sector.