Founder of Authenteq a global leader in digital identity verification solutions | 2019 Nordic Founder of the Year.
Earlier in the year, one of the most overused phrases was a variation of this statement: “Never let a good pandemic go to waste.” We were all meant to be happily baking bread, trying out new hobbies and getting in shape. That was, of course, when social distancing and self-isolation felt like temporary additions to our vernacular but would be forgotten after a few hard weeks. Weeks turned to months, and as much of the world enters a second or even third wave, the only thing we know for certain is that Covid-19 isn’t going away any time soon.
As we adjust, learn about and settle into new remote work and learning environments and brace for what many are predicting will be a long winter, some of the structural changes and innovations that have emerged from this time may, in fact, be here to stay. And while I don’t think it’s necessary to look for a silver lining during a global pandemic, I do think there are some key takeaways that can allow companies to do more than survive in this new reality — perhaps even thrive.
Expand your total addressable market.
If you offer any kind of subscription-based model or service, move to a SaaS method of delivery. That can mean offering a free trial or extending your current trial from say two weeks to two months. It can mean clear, tiered pricing and easy cancellations with no questions asked, or removing the requirement to provide a payment method upfront. People are going to be spending more time at home, and on their devices, so expand your target market and allow people to test your app or service in a way that works better for them on their own terms.
Embrace remote work structures.
Just as you can use this time to expand your market, you can also recruit a digital team. The future of coworking spaces felt uncertain, but with so many people switching to full-time remote work, many coworking spaces are thriving. For any household where there is more than one remote worker, and often children learning online, the uptick in coworking spaces hints that this is a change that may be here to stay. For startups in particular, by recruiting a virtual, distributed team, you can avoid lengthy visa applications and relocation funds and invest that time and money into new hires. Hire support staff or marketing employees that speak a different language. Build a remote sales team in a location where you couldn’t afford to establish an actual physical presence in the form of an office.
Company leaders and directors should also adjust their management style, as a remote situation can offer new possibilities. Sharing information, thoughts and encouragement can be easier than ever in a remote environment, as well as allowing yourself to show a more non-formal and relaxed side that maybe isn’t so visible in the workplace. This is also a great chance to reach out to clients more often as you don’t need to invest in commuting to a physical location for a meeting.
Automate, automate, automate.
There certainly are innovations that have been accelerated by our restricted mobility that would have likely happened regardless. In-person meetings or viewings are not only unrealistic but can be dangerous. Identify areas in your business that you can shift from analog to digital, and use this time as motivation to implement automation now. More automation can mean more customers, more accessibility and more success, but it’s important to remember that just like any other area of your business, it has to make sense. Keep it personalized, and make sure it aligns with and matches your overall approach. This could mean an updated customer journey fueled by automated emails or adding automated customer support through the use of chatbots. Automation can be the difference between customers jumping ship and moving to a competitor.
Realign with your values.
People are both lacking and looking for connections. Use this time to revisit your own mission and values to create content that not only reflects these values but that speaks to your audience directly. Perhaps it’s around a social issue like climate change or digital privacy. Maybe it’s using this time to democratize your own knowledge base and share your insights as a leader with other founders or your audience at large. Companies have a unique opportunity to speak to their customers, users or partners in a more empathetic and authentic way. Take advantage of it.
Give your company a makeover.
People are spending this time updating their living spaces or getting to those home repairs they have been putting off, and there is good reason for that. However trite or practical the reasoning may be, an update to your surroundings can be hugely energizing. Evaluate your current product features or offerings, talk to your customers for feedback and spend time internally with your team exploring how and where your product or service could be improved. Make it a collaborative process that your team can get excited about. Whether you choose to relaunch an entirely new website or logo or simply change your messaging or tone of voice on social media, a change can provide your team with some much-needed excitement and your customers with a breath of fresh air.
There is wisdom in using this time to make big or little changes. Listen to your customers and the market, and adapt as much as you can. Many of the old rules no longer apply, so you can choose to either let others guide you on this new path or be a part of building it. This is the best time to experiment, and who knows, there might just be real magic in the outcome.
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