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COVID-19: Surviving Challenging Times

  • September 1, 2020
  • Written by Community Futures Meridian

The world of business is going through some serious tough times. It’s very likely your business has been hit hard and you may be your licking your wounds right now. But, what do you do next? Do you try to wait it out, survive long enough in the hope that as things begin to settle down you will be able to rise like a phoenix from the ashes? The trouble with that strategy is that we don’t know if things will ever return to the old normal. Now might be a good time to see if there is any way you can adapt your business to fit the new reality. That may be an impossibility depending on what business you are in, or it might mean starting to look at what consumers want in this new world. If you can’t adapt, what else can you start using your existing assets and resources as a springboard?

Let’s take a look at the businesses that are doing well in spite of, or because of, the pandemic. As you read on, consider whether your business could find a way to meet any of these new, or enhanced, needs.

The most obvious winners are online retailers. They were already doing well but now their businesses have been fast-tracked. Business for this industry has never been better. If you are a local retailer you probably spit blood when you hear about their success, but if you can’t beat them, have you thought about joining them? When and if all this ends, will bricks and mortar retailing ever be the same as it was before the virus. Unlikely. Think long and hard about how you can offer online purchasing, delivery etc.

If you aren’t a retailer consider how you might benefit from major online retailers’ successes. Could you start a delivery, or courier service in your community. Amazon and the like have seen their need for local delivery services increase exponentially.

What other businesses are thriving? There is a surprising variety of other booming business sectors: grocery stores, online cooking courses (and courses on just about anything else) wine, beer and liquor stores, video-conference platforms, streaming services (Netflix had it’s best quarter ever this year), and home and garden centres (one source indicates that online page views for this sector are up 140%). And that’s not all, pet adoption has increased as people spend more time at home; beauty products for both men and women, especially anything to do with cutting and trimming one’s own hair, have boomed. People are buying more coffee and coffee machines with which to make their favorite beverage as they are forced (or prefer) to drink at home. People are baking more, cooking more elaborate food, and eating at home more.

Sales of almost anything to do with fitness and health from road bicycles to exercise bikes and from fitness and health apps to diets have soared. Reports indicate that almost 3-million fitness equipment apps have been downloaded since all this started. And, sales of indoor and outdoor games equipment such as table tennis tables and pool tables have gone crazy.

As restrictions begin to ease, local tourism is set to explode. Cabins in remote locations have seen a surge in popularity as going off-the-grid is trending. People may not be able to go abroad at the moment but they are starting to become stir crazy so they will be looking to visit and stay within province or territory. And, think about the Canadian snowbirds. The Canadian Snowbird Association alone has 110,000 members. They may not be able to head south so what opportunities exist with this “captive” audience? The sun lovers may stay at home, but a percentage will still want the change of scenery that they are used to experiencing. Think RV sales and rental, or a service to help them figure out what next? What about lakeside, beach, or mountain retreats (it may be winter here but it’s still an experience).

There’s no doubt there will be fewer business around when this is all over. Being creative, innovative and entrepreneurial now, may help you become one of the survivors in a far smaller business gene pool. Now is not the time to sit and wait, it’s time to figure a way forward.

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