Let’s start off by giving congratulations where congratulations are due…
Your business survived the pandemic so far! Or perhaps, you’ve worked up the courage to finally start your business!
Now it’s time to look ahead.
Just as 2020 changed the way we do business, 2021 will bring its own set of challenges and changes as we move closer to the end of the pandemic.
It would be reckless to say that the world as we know it and business as we know it will return to 2019 status, but some things will return to normal and other habits we picked up during the pandemic will stick around.
The good thing (really good thing) is that businesses and soon-to-be launched businesses have the upper hand now and can plan ahead to adapt to the changing landscape.
1. Listen to your customers
Your customers priorities will change, and that can pose either an opportunity or a threat… depending on how ready you’ll be! You hold the power to position your business to seize the situation as an opportunity.
For example, people have prioritized staying home this year, but as the danger of the pandemic wanes in the future, they will most likely prioritize social interactions and getting out. You’ve most likely adapted parts of your business to meet the demand of this homebody customer behavior, but you must now ask the question what changes do I need to make as my customers venture out?
This could be in the form of changing your product or service offerings or simply marketing your business with a new message. Start talking to your customers today to get a better understanding of their evolving priorities. Ask about their biggest concerns today (as it related to the industry you’re in) and how they see those concerns changing post-pandemic.
Their answers can help spark the forward-thinking creativity you need to create business opportunities down the road.
2. Seek out new customers
Changing trends also present the opportunity to reach a completely new market. For example, if the target market for your business is stay-at-home moms, you’ve probably been doing well during the pandemic as many moms found themselves in a work-from-home situation during which they’ve been able to spend more time with their kids. As many women shift back to their out-of-home, working mom roles, think about how you can adapt to continue serving these customers’ new needs.
3. Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Once you have a good idea about how customers’ needs will change, you can use that knowledge to gain an advantage over competitors who are too focused on the current situation and aren’t thinking ahead.
To really gain a competitive advantage, answer the following questions:
Once you know your strengths and weaknesses in the current market, you can make the necessary moves to seize opportunities and neutralize threats in the future. In this scenario, your opportunities are meeting customers’ new needs and your threats are not being ready or able to compete in the upcoming market.
As you brainstorm creative ways to move your business forward, rank your options by the following criteria:
A successful entrepreneur is always a few steps ahead of current market needs and competitor strategies. There is no excuse to be caught off-guard by market changes such as the ones coming after the pandemic. You won’t get everything 100% right, but by staying focused and flexible, you’ll be able to overcome your challenges in the shifting market.