Recent lessons in business.

We have just experienced one of the strangest, and for many business owners, one of the most difficult periods of our lives.

However, at the time of writing, and hopefully still at the time you are reading this, we are well on our way to returning to business as usual.

What is Business as Usual?

But wait a second, what is “business as usual”?

Did “business as usual” ever really exist?

Just think how many times, and how consistently, we have experienced upheavals and events that have impacted our businesses over the past 20 years.

Just to name a few… the Dot-Com Bubble, 9/11, the WA Property Boom, the Mining Boom, the rise of Google, the rise of Facebook, the rise of smart phones, the rise of China, the GFC, the “Cloud”, the WA Property Crash, droughts, bush fires and now of course COVID-19!

The truth is there is no such thing as “business as usual”. At least not in the context we think of it.

The Reality of Business as Usual

Business as usual is in fact the ongoing process of addressing the latest upheavals and disruptions.

But… it is also the continual consideration of opportunities.

Because every one of those events I listed, and all the ones I didn’t, simultaneously presented threats to some businesses, while introducing opportunities to others. And no matter which side of that equation you were on, each event also provided a lesson.

Two of my biggest business takeaways from recent events are that –

  • To succeed in business you must be brave, and
  • You must ensure your business somehow stands apart from the crowd.

Bravery in Business

Given “business as usual” is in fact dealing with constant upheavals, to be truly successful we must develop the trait of bravery if we are to survive.

…to be truly successful your business must be remarkable.

I know a lot of business owners that are seriously contemplating giving it all away, in no small part because they have lost that mindset to be able to weather the storms and to be brave in the face of uncertainty.

I will be the first to admit, as an accountant, being brave, as opposed to being cautious, does not come naturally to me. I have to continually work at my bravery when it comes to my businesses.

That often includes inheriting bravery from my colleagues, advisers, business associates, and also from my clients.

But I have learned without question that bravery in business can be taught and can be developed even when you never thought it could.

Early Impact

The pandemic started hitting one of my businesses in early March, by mid-March we were serving less than a third of usual customer numbers, and obviously the decline continued from there.

Of course, my first reaction was to start cutting costs and to bunker down.

However instead, at the recommendation of one of my business partners, we went the other way.

We started investing (read spending).

Specifically, on activities that would keep us engaged with our customers, even when they were too afraid or otherwise unable to visit us.

This included creating a private Facebook Group and heavily investing in both its content as well as the marketing of it to our current, former and future customers.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and I admit to scepticism in the beginning, but we estimate at least 85% of our current customers are now members of the Group and many are regularly interacting with it.

Further, our Facebook Page has seen a 100% increase in likes.

This is all while the vast majority of customers have been unable to actually use our services.

Now, as things return to “normal”, we are serving more than we were prior to the outbreak, and we are on track for a very successful year.

This is in no small way because we were able to continue to provide value and maintain a connection and engagement with our customers even when they weren’t buying from us.

Through our efforts we have also positioned ourselves even further apart from our competitors. And ultimately that is the most important thing for any business, standing apart from the crowded marketplace.

Watch out for Part 2 in coming weeks…