If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered multiple lessons to the business world as well.
The first is that in a globalised business world our lives are so intertwined that the idea of viewing our businesses as islands – whether as business leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, share holders, individuals, communities, or some kind of uniquely privileged species – should be understood as evidence of false consciousness.
And now, as we start to enter periods of quarantine and self-isolation – a simple piece of protein has shown us that we are as vulnerable and less important as isolated beings just taking care of our individual needs. It has taken this virus to show us that only together as a global community are we at our strongest, most alive, most resilient and most human.
Same principles applies to the business world. Only when we are connected with stake holders in our businesses and care for each other’s success we are at our strongest, most alive and most human. Else we run the risk of becoming a platform run by some AI logic that purely exists for profits! More vulnerable to threats just like this pandemic hitting us unexpectedly.
Further more, this pandemic encourages us to pause and reflect because we are cut off from the bombardment of distractions and placed in environments (social distancing) where we depend on ourselves, customers who believe in us, employees, friends and family.
As we sit on this global social distancing movement, here are 10 things you could consider as a TechCEO to bounce back from this sobering moment in time:
Gratitude – If you are reading this and have a running business, let’s be grateful to live in a country with skilled health-care workers we can trust to do the right thing in these situations. And for governments that are doing their best to provide for the needs of the most vulnerable. We are fortunate compared to many other countries. But for many others, the anxiety and suffering remains. Let’s pray for them and continue to show our sense of gratitude to our creator, our community, nation in protecting us during this time of the hour.
Respond and do not react: Many of the uncertainties that people feel today in reacting to a pandemic are the same as they were centuries ago. You don’t have to react like people who are in a spree of panic buying, emptying supermarket shelves of toilet paper and other essentials. Lead from the front and from circle of control. Not circle of concern. The world is not going to end. We will all bounce back.
Reflect on your purpose, vision and why you exist? Is your your business shaken just like the airlines who have nowhere else to go in a cut-throat world where they need to compete with rivals, to drive them out of business and make as much money as they can for shareholders? Or in these times you and your customers can help each other to hang in there, help each other out to move along?
Don’t act like as if you know it all – Most of our client TechCEOs are confounded by these questions. Should I freeze, go slow or make careful moves? What should I do in the short term? Will the situation change in next 2-3 months? Or it’s going to be 8-10 months uphill? It’s natural to have these thoughts. If you are one of those leaders who believes that you must continuously show up as the one in control, be stoic and be perfect – you could be wrong! When you’re in a place of feeling like you have to be perfect, the last thing you think you can do is ask for help. This is the time to ask people for help. You need to be open to different kinds of help. This includes your customers, employees, partners, well wishers, families and friends.
Add more value to your clients and deepen relationships – It’s more important to respect your relationships with and support for customers in an unprecedented time like now. Next few weeks (and months) your customers are going be confounded by same fears, uncertainty and turbulence in their businesses. Find out how you can help them regain confidence, believe in putting together hedges & plans and stay with them to support in executing it. Offer them value added services and communicate more than usual. How you treat your clients that are hit the hardest by this will directly impact the lifetime value you realise from that client. Build deeper relationships and enhance your social capital.
Review your solution and product portfolio – We have one global common trigger event. A pandemic. For next few months, key driver for both public and business consumption will be basic essentials – food, shelter, healthcare, communication and few more needs that keep lights on. Ensure that your solution or product is geared to address those needs. Do not go to market with solutions that promise colonisation in mars or hyperloop travel. Message the market accordingly and reach out to customers to support their immediate needs. Positioning ‘work from solutions’, ‘remote sales team’, ‘mobile healthcare’ and many other solutions that facilitate distributed work modes and support social distancing will be well received. Not all industries and businesses have equipped themselves to handle such a sudden black swan event.
Go to market in a meaningful manner – Some of the market segments that you serve may have been hit harder than others. You need to establish the right motions and approach to each of those segments. The ones that were hit harder may be the ones where you have to invest in helping them and lean in as an organization. At the same time, focus on segments (Eg: healthcare, security, communication, mortgage refinance, food) who are meaningfully supporting communities, businesses and individuals to hang in there. These segments will gorw and your services to them might be vastly needed.
Stay agile – Set out a clear set of priorities and implement them with a high degree of autonomy and empowerment. In a dynamic situation, overly centralising decision making impedes your organization’s ability to respond quickly and effectively. Effective leadership is to empower employees to make the best decisions they can, bearing in mind a clear set of priorities, such as keeping everyone safe and behaving ethically toward customers. Responding quickly and meaningfully to clients, partners and important stake holders is more important that imposing command and hierarchical control.
Take action – This is not the time to retreat. If you operate at this level you are taking actions in reverse. Businesses that retreat are probably trying to avoid the negative experience they imagine will come from the results of taking action and possibly risking everything. Some of our client TechCEOs are taking multiple actions roll out campaigns that support remote working (eg: AWS Workspace, Citrix, VMware Workspace One), enhance their go to market kits (customer case studies, EDMs, presentations, landing pages) and reviewing their market positioning and re-brand initiatives. This is a perfect time to focus on important initiatives that you have put in back burner and did not have the time to prioritise. This is the time to get those thing done in a hurry. Prioritise incremental organisational value addition projects when the market is in a lean mode.
Show up everyday – Understand that this too will pass. Nothing lasts forever. Those who don’t quit but instead dig in and get through them will come out the other side with a better work ethic, an increased customer base, and a bigger piece of the market. Remember, any problem you face now is an opportunity in disguise. The question is, will you be better or worse when this event goes away?
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways I can help you grow your tech business:
1. Grab a free copy of useful stuff that can help you grow your tech business. More in our blog.
4 Ways to Position Your Tech Business to Attract More Clients Click here.
3 Mistakes to Avoid In Your Tech Business To Grow Revenue Click here.
Do TechCEOs Get ROI from Marketing Click here.
Should Tech firms consider Re-Branding to Drive New Demand – Click here.
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Life is short. Take action now and grow. Best Wishes.