The last nine months have been a roller coaster for our entire country. Our world has been turned upside down and things will likely never be quite the same. Although doing business during a pandemic has been challenging, some of the changes taking place may ultimately force businesses to be more adaptable and resilient, which is not a bad thing.
A major challenge has been allaying the fears and concerns of employees, clients and suppliers about the coronavirus. By explaining through open and honest communication upfront what steps are being taken to protect them you will generate trust. Reinforce that trust by continually making sure you do what you have promised to keep everyone safe.
I’ve learned some important lessons during 2020, and I’d like to share these recommendations so any business leader can tweak for their own use:
1. Make relationships your number one priority. No matter what size the company, the relationships you have with your customers, employees and suppliers is everything. Without having valued relationships, your business has nothing to build on and no real foundation for the future.
2. Create a business culture that is agile. Rather than rely on what worked in the past, adopt a mindset that is flexible and prepared for any circumstance or crisis. Nimble organizations that can turn on a dime, while retaining their core values, are the ones who will be able to weather any storm. Staying strong and building in more flexible in all facets of your business will give you the advantage during challenging times.
3. Remember that trust is key to any successful business. During a crisis like a pandemic, customers, employees and suppliers are going to value a trusted relationship more than ever. If your business has not developed trusted partnerships prior to a health or business emergency like a pandemic, you may find it’s too late to start once an emergency has occurred. Take steps in advance to build and maintain high levels of trust with each of your customers, employees, and suppliers.
4. Embrace innovation and include it in your business model. Being flexible and accepting of new and different ways to do things is essential, especially during a pandemic. Companies that react and adapt quickly, rather than in terms of weeks or months, will be the successful ones. Those businesses that don’t could face grave consequences.
It has been a very difficult 2020 for all of us and, unfortunately, we cannot predict the future. So, the next few months are going to be a continuing challenge for businesses. Restrictions are lifting, more businesses are opening, but business exactly as we knew it is probably not in the cards. Learning from the pandemic’s impact on our lives can serve as a great lesson as we go forward to adapt and accept change, rather than wishing that we could return to business as usual.
Take this experience as a means to change and improve how we run our businesses. By encouraging even stronger and more flexible businesses that can weather any storm from the beginning, the pandemic may be a catalyst for positive change. One thing that should not change, however, is your focus on creating a business culture and a business model that are built on trust and appreciation throughout your team. Strong relationships are still the main ingredient that will make your business flourish.