After epidemic corona crisis started companies have encountered serious problems mostly caused by loss of customers and cashflow. For many companies this is a question of survival. For some other companies this has been a possibility to innovate new business. This is a specific period of time that we will have a lot to learn about for the future.
Stop Existing or Try a New Approach
What triggers innovation is the choice to think and try things in a new way. Sometimes it is very different and usually it is more of a slow evolution. The choice for a company to move or experiment into a new area outside of their normal way of doing business, testing a new market segment or a different combination of offerings is usually understood as business risk because it means learning and testing and evaluating if the investment is worth it.
With the current epidemic many businesses in effect had to choose to try a different approach or stop existing at least in the short run. The uncertainty of for how long they would face being closed because of the pandemic and would they actually be able to restart their business after the pandemic was the catalyst for some business owners to attempt new business models with what was quickly becoming excess capacity.
The change or approach should not be underappreciated. These people are starting a new business with all of the associated risks. Not reacting to the situation to find another way forward effectively doomed the previous business within weeks or months. The lack of liquidity would simply consume their existing cash. The question was when.
Change in the Operating Environment – New Business Models
Many restaurants have turned to home delivery as a way to service their existing customer base. Some have partnered with stores to sell semi-prepared meals as boxed alternatives. A new channel which would have previously competed with their existing business, but in this case may actually support a continuous connection with their client base. Supermarkets are in trouble with their web stores. Demand has grown in a few weeks so remarkably that they have serious difficulties to deliver goods to households. Musicians are looking to music streaming for their concerts and as a distraction to the continuous layering of fear and a way to give live concerts to earn their living. Sales of home sports equipment are surging as people avoid the gym, but want to continue with their investment in self. Even yoga studios are streaming meditation as a way of keeping their current client base mindful as community. Partnering and collaboration or substitution are not fully appreciated as operational business solutions as we look for creative ways to extend and adapt our businesses.
Adapt to the New Normal
This pandemic will have an undoubted effect on the economy and many of the local businesses. It will be a direct catalyst to the changes of how businesses have evolved and adapted to the previously comfortable to the new normal as we find our way forward as communities and as individuals. The choices to adapt are more vital to the businesses and those that do may find that their new approaches may in fact survive the epidemic. In our mode of global panic, we forget to respond and see the big picture of what someone else locally needs, and how can we help them as people or organizations. Collectively, we need to adapt and respond for the needs of the community and then we will remember how we persevered together.
Brett Fifield, DSc (Econ), is Principal Lecturer in Business Faculty at LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Ritva Kinnunen, DSc (Econ), is Principal Lecturer in Business Faculty at LAB University of Applied Sciences.