How to Reimagine Your Business to Thrive Post COVID-19

As published in the June 2020 issue of

Thanks to the coronavirus, businesses have been forced to work smarter, faster and more creatively than they did just two months ago.  

To capitalize on this forward momentum, now is the perfect time for CEOs to reimagine their business model. Those who step up their game now and outpace their competition will be more prepared to confront the new challenges and opportunities of this new normal and future crises that are sure to come.   

Here some of the best practices that we’ve seen companies implement to survive and thrive during this pandemic, as well as the Great Recession of 2007-2009. All strategies focus on speed, innovation, adaptability, and creativity. 

Rethink your organization.  

Now, as the world and businesses begin to open back up, what companies have learned can’t be undone. Clear goals, a flatter organization, rapid decisions, delegated responsibility to capable teams, and the need to accelerate sales processes have replaced old models where corporate bureaucracy ruled.

Strategy, roles, personal accountability, and leadership that is focused, supportive, and demanding is more critical.

And expectations between the employee and its employers have changed. Employees now demand their employer puts their safety and the safety of their communities first. 

What matters most becomes very clear in a crisis. Businesses must commit to not going back to old ways. 

Adapt to new consumer trends.  

CEOs will face some fundamental challenges. One is that consumer opinions, behaviors and purchasing patterns have changed significantly and will continue to do so. 

Another challenge is that how the economy comes back to life in each country and city will differ. For example, consumers may feel comfortable going to restaurants before they will consider getting on a plane or going to sporting events.  

Early signals of increased consumer demand will likely come suddenly, so businesses must be prepared to analyze these demand signals in real time and adapt quickly to bring products and services back to meet these demands. The speed at which companies can respond will be essential for companies to successfully navigate the recovery.

Establish new regional/local supply-chain partnerships. 

Given current disruptions in global supply chains, adaptability in the entire supply-chain process is essential. This will mean businesses must consider nontraditional collaborations and partnerships with suppliers globally – and regionally –  to survive current and future crises.

The coronavirus crisis has taught us that the global-sourcing model in product-driven chains requires new technologies and regional and local suppliers to reliably respond to new consumer-demand patterns in the future. 

Implement routine action and accountability.  

CEOs must establish a regular routine that rewards agility and accountability, such as daily team check-ins, weekly manager reviews, and monthly C-Suite reviews. 

Accelerate use of digital, tech, and analytics. 

Our world is witnessing what will be remembered as the historic deployment of remote workers and digital access to services across every domain.

COVID-19 has accelerated the global shift to digital, and successful companies will use advanced analytics to combine new sources of data with their own insights to make better and faster decisions and strengthen their connections with customers.

CEOs will need to set an ambitious digital plan to address how their companies can address the new way we work, socialize, travel, get medical care, recreate, and conduct many of the routine activities of life. 

Enact new, flexible sales models.

According to a survey conducted by McKinsey in April, sixty percent of businesses said that their new remote sales models were proving as much (29 percent) or more (31 percent) effective than traditional channels.  

Thus, it is important to identify primary sources of revenue and make critical moves that need to happen now before the recovery fully starts.

This may include launching targeted marketing and sales campaigns to win back loyal customers; developing new customer experiences focused on increased health and safety; adjusting pricing and promotions based on new data; reallocating marketing/sales spending to proven growth sources; training the sales force to support remote selling; creating flexible payment terms; digitizing sales channels; and automating processes to free up sales representatives to sell more.

Embrace the future of work.

COVID-19 has accelerated the coming of the fourth industrial revolution (when business accelerate the use of more automation and technology).

Employees across all functions have learned how to complete tasks remotely using digital communication and collaboration tools. In operations, manual tasks will continue to decline and there will be an increased need for more analytical and technical support.

This shift to more automation and technology also will call for a substantial investment in workforce training to adopt new skills using digital tools. CEOs need to act now to bring their employees up-to-speed.

Form strategic partnerships.

Leaders need to move their businesses from a closed organization to an open culture that fosters strategic, mutually beneficial partnerships inside and outside the organization. 

Those organizations that make the shift to partnerships using digital platforms and networks have proven to be more successful during a crisis.

Move from running to building your business.

CEOs today must disrupt the status quo and move from running their business to building their business by asking a few guiding questions: 

  • How do we get better at identifying our points of failure? 
  • How can we empower teams to solve these failures (through market testing)? 
  • How can we globally scale the winning business concepts that arise from market testing? 

The companies that emerge stronger from the pandemic will disrupt the status quo and step confidently from this crisis into a changed, new world by building new businesses and profit lines that respond to changing consumer needs.

Businesses can’t go back to the way they were. Instead, they must rethink how they can become more adaptable and flexible in how they operate, use technology, partner, sell, and compete not only with scale, but also with speed.

Those businesses that can successfully reposition now are the businesses that will thrive in the future.

Linda Welter is CEO & Principal of the Caliber Groupa Tucson-based brand positioning and crisis/issues management firm that provides business consulting, leadership development, and marketing/PR strategy to help businesses reposition and build value during challenging times.  

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