You Can Curl Up, Adapt or Catapult —
Or Maybe All Three, Depending on Your Business
Over the last several weeks, I’ve been talking with clients, colleagues and friends as we all sort out our business and career strategies related to the world’s current crisis. In the course of articulating my thoughts on this topic, I developed a simple yet powerful framework to help devise effective strategies. It is this:
Let’s consider these one at a time.
Curl up is just as the name implies. Fol in on yourself, conserve resources so you can resume operations after the crisis ends. This might be most suited to a business that caters to tourists in a resort location. If the customers aren’t there, then why keep the doors open, pay staff, purchase supplies and the like? Or imagine a food cart that operates in a busy business district. If people aren’t coming to work, your normal client base of hundreds of people per day won’t be there, so why be open?
This approach is also as it implies. What do you need to change about your business operation to allow you to survive — maybe even thrive — given the current situation? It may not be exactly as you envisioned your business when you started, but you’re finding a way to keep going. Your efficiency may be less than normal, but you find a way to be productive enough to survive. Think of all the businesses with people working from home. Think of the therapists who were sitting in the same room with their patients a month ago and now are doing therapy from their spare bedroom while their patients sit on their own couches. This can be an effective way to retain customers — and employees. Your margins may not be what they were. They might even be better without all of your regular office expenses!
This is exciting, and perhaps a little dangerous. What is the business expansion or new product or service offering you’ve thought about but never had the time or focus to work on? Is there an exciting opportunity that you now have the time and volition to invest your time and capital in. Is there a new partnership or joint venture opportunity that now makes more sense than it did before? It can be an aggressive approach, and it could fail miserably. But it could also succeed wildly and propel you toward a better future.
So what strategy makes the most sense to you? You might pick one, or you might segment your business into different strategies. For instance, a restaurant with a great bar business might have to close the bar and the dining room (curl up), but keep the kitchen going for a more robust takeout business than before (adapt). On top of that, it might decide to open up a new business line — packaged meals and matching crowlers of beer delivered via curbside. Or, back that therapist for a minute. Maybe in addition to offering therapy via skype, she’s able to form a new service business that provides concierge life services to clients who need more support — home health services, coordination with a pharmacy, personal shopping to make sure the clients fuller needs are met.
So what’s your plan? Would you like to talk it out. Let me know and I’m happy to jump on a phone or Zoom with you. — Chuck Hall