Understanding how your entrepreneur skills need to change in a dynamic global world cannot be more essential than at this time of COVID-19. Even if you have a job, you should consider these changes in your professional skills for a changing world.
The expression “every cloud has a silver lining” (no hay mal que por bien no venga, similar in Spanish) means that even the worst events or situations have some positive aspect of which you can take advantage to make the necessary changes for the success of your business.
Many entrepreneurs will lose their sales and market share, others will have to definitely close their doors, and many will hopefully be able to quickly adjust to the new conditions.
Companies are starting to lay off employees and trying to adjust to the new working conditions in order to maintain their stake. However, this is not going away too soon, and the economic consequences can be as devastating as the Great Recession of 2007-2009.
Is your SWOT in place?
If you are familiar with the SWOT analysis, as you should be, you know that the O stands for Opportunities and the T stands for Threats. Every small business owner must be in constant alert of changes in their market or current clients, their potential market or future clients, and the current regional, national and global change of affairs.
In that way, you can make adjustments to the way you conduct your business, find opportunities to offer new products that are needed by your customers, and especially, prepare your entrepreneur skills to respond to these changes.
A personal story about not “seeing it coming”
One of the “lessons learned” that I regret the most was the loss of our publication, Periodico Latino!, the first side-by-side bilingual newspaper in New Jersey. Following my passion for writing, I started the publication as a small pamphlet to promote and advertise our business.
However, the publication took off and soon we went from 8 to 32 pages, mailing it for free to over 8000 households in Central New Jersey, and distributing another 8000 issues through churches, bodegas, marketas, Latino restaurants, and more. It was an expensive undertaken, and we paid dearly for it.
It was the early 2000s, and I could have quickly jumped into a digital version of the publication. The Internet was starting to grow and many publishers were going into that direction. I stayed with paper, and we had to fold the publication almost three years later.
Change your priorities with new entrepreneur skills
So, what is the silver lining in the COVID-19 situation? Let’s quickly review new entrepreneur skills necessary to survive in the new world. You can also follow these guidelines if you have a job or are looking for a job.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses and work on them
As a business owner, you wear many hats all the time. However, it is essential that you understand your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will help with your business decisions, the partnerships you can bring on, and where and when to find the exact help you need.
Take this time to identify your business and your strengths and weaknesses. Set up a contingency plan to make quick decisions. Are there areas that can be automated? Do you need to reinforce your online presence? Can you quickly innovate or create products -for instance, digital products or services- that can serve your customers now and in the future? Can you find new sources of revenue that will help your business survive and even thrive in times like this one?
- Work at having a strong personal and/or business brand
Having a strong personal and/or business brand has become the only way that your business or you -if you are looking for a job- can stand out from the crowd.
Customers are looking for a brand they can identify with for its values, its products, its customer friendliness and the extended-value or satisfaction that can bring them to being associated with a brand that represents them well. Learn from sports and try to understand why you root for your favorite baseball or football team!
On the same token, customers will look for brands that take leadership and care for their customers at the time of need. What can you do during this time to let your customers -current and potential- know that you care for their situation (instead of feeling sorry for yourself about the financial misery you’re going through)?
Large employers as well as small businesses favor employees and new hires that demonstrate leadership and caring for their brand. Ideally, your personal brand should have some overlap with the company or business brand you work for.
Stop obsessing over social media and bad news, and work on ways you can present your business or yourself as a brand that makes a positive change in the world. When your self-improvement is your top priority, you’ll find yourself ready to thrive in any circumstance!
- More than ever, rely on the Internet to conduct your business
If you are not already there, you need to quickly start having a strong online presence. “Social distance” is causing many businesses to fail due to the needed interpersonal relationship with customers. Adding some of these entrepreneur skills will help you in maintaining that relationship now and always.
- Increase your offering online and make your customers look for your choices and continue the relationship you had in person.
- Even in bad times, coupons and discounts help people take advantage of those offers while ordering regular priced items. For instance, if you are in the food industry, empty supermarkets and fear of contagion will help your business thrive with targeted delivery options!
- If you have not done it yet, build your customer database immediately! Email, texting and even telemarketing can rapidly create response to your offers.
- Continue to contact your customers regularly with personal videos about your concern for them, what you are doing to keep up with the times, and how you’d want to continue your relationship with them. Offer a video with an extra class or idea about your business. Telling them about your values and your concern will keep your business fresh in their memory!
- Social selling is a paramount part of your business success so invite people to make comments and engage them in a conversation about ways to overcome their fears and boredom!
- Along with your online presence, social networks represent a key part of any business’s marketing strategy. Make an effort to understand how each platform works, you’ll want to arm yourself with the best strategies for getting your startup and personal brand noticed on each one.
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We are living in a new world, and we will see the actions and consequences of these events more frequently. Man-made diseases and natural disasters are forcing us to quickly learn new ways of survival and adaptation.
The old phrase “the survival of the fittest” continues to be truth.
However, Michael Le Page, a reporter at New Scientist, tells us, “although the phrase conjures up an image of a violent struggle for survival, in reality the word ‘fittest’ seldom means the strongest or the most aggressive. On the contrary, it can mean anything from the best camouflaged or the most fecund to the cleverest or the most cooperative. Forget Rambo, think Einstein or Gandhi.”