Few of us will look back at 2020 very fondly. It has been a chaotic year in which life seems almost to have come to a standstill in many respects. Many businesses have had to slash operations or shut down entirely. At the same time, others in the same industry have prospered precisely because of the lockdowns and restrictions.
What is the difference between them? Here, we take a closer look at three factors that differentiate an agile business from a vulnerable one during a crisis:
In the very early days when the pandemic began in China, President Trump called for a travel ban from the country. The idea was shot down by his political opponents who termed it ‘xenophobic’. In hindsight, it is clear that a travel ban from the infection hotspot would have been effective. That awareness, if acted upon with support, would have saved countless lives.
As a business leader, it is easy to miss pertinent data because of the drone of excess information that surrounds us all. Being aware refers to the ability to decipher patterns and their implications before it is drowned out by noise. It is not a skill that people are born with. Rather, it is an ability that is built upon through successive crises.
Think back to the start of the lockdown. Were there signs of the upcoming change that you missed? Would you have done things or used your resources differently? The idea is to build your potential for awareness from this experience. Use it to minimize the negative impact of the next crisis, if and when it hits.
Being aware is only the foundation – it is the ensuing response that differentiates success from failure.
Kyc verification is the perfect example. KYC refers to ‘Know Your Customer’, which is a series of procedures that allow an organization to verify a client’s identity. This process is an effective tool against identity theft, financial irregularities and money laundering. Remote KYC is virtually indispensable at a time when face-to-face meetings are discouraged.
Some businesses have thrived in this new atmosphere because they have responded effectively to the social distancing needs of their customers. Finance-based businesses that decided to adopt remote KYC have given themselves an insurmountable edge against their less agile competitors.
Not only does it allow them to maintain operations while adhering to strict regulations, but it effectively acts as a confidence booster for their existing clients. Had they dithered in their response, they would likely have lost out on additional revenue and perhaps even lost customers along the way.
An effective initial response does not guarantee perpetual success. For that, good business leaders have to watch for shifts in the ether and adjust their tactics accordingly. This is adaptability in action.
Adaptiveness is a rare trait because it requires constant and long-term attention. The world of business is in constant flux and what works today will not necessarily work tomorrow. Factors like the pandemic aside, public perception is also fickle.
Always try to have your finger on the pulse of the people you serve. Engage with them on a regular basis through social media. Identify the trends that they follow and apply them to your own brand, if feasible.
A word of caution here – do not try to be all things to all people. Resist the temptation to jump on every bandwagon and apply targeted marketing strategies instead.
As things return slowly to normalcy, it is clear that some businesses made it while others fell by the wayside. If yours is one of the former, congratulations. If not, this has been a valuable learning experience for each of us; your next venture will be more resilient because now you are, too.