With things on a standing halt in Italy, many entrepreneurs and business owners are probably in limbo, wondering what to do to prevent a disastrous fall.
However, a period of low productivity and activity doesn’t mean it is the end of the business. It can be, in fact, an opportunity in disguise. For a country that is rather traditional such as Italy, this lockdown will push some organisations and businesses to rethink their business models. The following are some food for thought.
Traditional schools are forced to provide online teaching. More and more services such as coaching or tutoring go online as well. The next-door pizzerias and bakeries are joining the others to provide delivery services when they did not even consider them before the outbreak. Almost every company is now experiencing smart working and basically, countries under quarantine are under ‘stress tests’ for complete digitalisation.
Granted that going digital is not something new to many and that people have been at it since well before the year 2000, but there are still a large number of entities that do not explore the opportunities they can have via digital channels. This outbreak is, therefore, an opportunity for individuals and professionals to either go completely digital or to up the ante and disrupt their markets.
The questions to ask are: What kind of digital strategy the business should have? How can the business offer an excellent online user experience that makes clients vouch for the brand?
Mission and purposes
The above point then leads to the next where we reconsider the fundamental question. What is our purpose? The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every person on earth. Life starts to turn a little more precious and people care a little more as well for one another. Businesses ought to be the same — be a little more human, give a bit more TLC (tender loving care) and consider the emotions of our clients. What then is the mission of our businesses and what kind of purpose do they serve? Now, more than ever is the right time to repurpose our businesses and think ahead that will make them sustainable in every way possible.
In other words, what was your brand image conveying before that you might want to change to address an audience that is going through a major trauma?
Quiet times are the best moments to see the most essential part of our businesses and our reasons for being. Once the vision is clear, it won’t take long for ideas to turn into actions and for actions to turn into results.
The boom of entrepreneurs/freelancers
With the shutdown of most businesses, many are having pay cuts and live in fear of losing their jobs in the face of a recession. Depending on the duration of the lockdown, people, being adaptable to change, will start to explore other channels of income, one of which is to start their business. Some would become freelancers, take online lessons or even use the lean startup methodology to test their ideas. With time on their hands (at least for those without people to take care of, especially kids), many with entrepreneurship mindsets will build, iterate and refine their business offers during the lockdown.
The marketplace will get even more competitive therefore, existing businesses will need to take this opportunity to review their brand images, their value propositions, their communication strategy and change wherever that is needed to stay ahead. Entrepreneur.com Editor-In-Chief Jason Feifer commented that entrepreneurs he spoke to are doing exactly that.
On the same note, a wave of new and flexible solutions might surface after or even before the pandemic has died down that will help solve business problems, thanks to these entrepreneurs.
Increase of Blogger, Vloggers, content creators
Grandmothers and grandfathers, in order to see and to speak with their grandchildren, have learnt to use mobile devices, apps and other online tools to conduct video chats with their loved ones. They might have created social media profiles as well. Furthermore, now more than ever, people are glued to their screens and on their favourite social media. They consume all these contents and sometimes, it is necessary just to keep the spirits up. Screen time for social media and the number of users will undoubtedly increase significantly.
In addition, with so much emotion and commotion all around, individuals are motivated and emboldened to create online/social media contents either to motivate, to share information, to inject fun, to mock or simply just being creative. This is what happens when people have plenty of time — they create stuff.
This means that influencers will be on the rise, social media feeds/posts will become more sophisticated, more investment will be made for quality home-made videos and so on. So what should businesses do to keep or increase their followers? Keep posting. Keep posting quality contents, and post contents that motivate, inspire, encourage and maintain thought leadership in their arena.
Germaphobic — this is what the society will become after this pandemic is over. The lockdown in Italy might last for another month or two if the curve is not flattened or does not start to invert. This period of time will be enough to cultivate hygienic habits such as washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds (or more) and more frequently than usual, leaving shoes outside the living areas, keeping the beds clear of outside clothes and so on.
Would people continue to take precautions when interacting with others, when eating out or having a haircut? The mentality probably would stay for a long period of time. Businesses will have to take this into consideration except for those hygiene-centric countries like Japan where business will be as usual. One thing for sure, service providers in the post-coronavirus era will want to be careful and not risk being called out for having an unhygienic workplace or practice as the public will be sensitive to the least unhygienic act.
Would people, in general, change their attitude towards healthier living and healthier eating? Perhaps not. Though the lockdown could have pushed people to be more conscious about healthy living and eating, people might still want to have fast-food and junk food as soon as the lockdown is lifted…so long as they are prepared hygienically!
About Xpotlight Consulting
Xpotlight Consulting’s mission is to help Italian companies build solid brands that will allow them to grow strategically and internationally through data and digital marketing best-practices. The company’s main focus is on startups and SMEs who are looking to position themselves as market disruptors or are going through a digital transformation with a strong differentiator.
A partner of Xpotlight Consulting, easyIT is a Consultancy firm in the areas of business process and innovative digital solution. Together, both firms collaborate with the aim to offer turnkey transformations to SMEs that will ensure sustainable business operation in the middle to the long-term.