COVID-19: Business losses and online strategies
Sir: With the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 13, to extend the lockdown for another two weeks, people are wondering, how long people will stay inside without income and how long people can survive this without the palliatives reaching them! Let me get right to the point.
The shutdown in a bid to curb the coronavirus spread, has forced businesses and organisations to close their doors, forced people to stay at home, no large gatherings; people not travelling, not taking airplanes, not dining out, not staying at hotels nor attending concerts and religious service, and all that. And then, many businesses and self-employed people have seen their incomes overnight. This situation is unlike anything we’ve seen before in the world. But then, the market cannot put you out of business: only a lack of creativity and unwillingness to learn something new can do that. Because, like in all crisis situations, there will be challenges for some and opportunities for others. For instance, before the shutdown, everything seems urgent; between the house, kids, career and business, there is hardly enough time in the day! So, the stay-at-home order brought some newfound time and opportunity you can use for growth. But then, (and trust me on this) the easiest thing that most people do with this newfound time is to look to catch up on DSTV, or every African Magic show they can, and spend hours scrolling through your Twitter or Instagram feeds, or what their friends are posting about on Facebook. In effect, unless you plan to manage the situation deliberately, many will be distracted by irrelevant pursuits, even as they are experiencing loses in time and money
So, as you spend more time inside, what does it mean for your business or the company you worked for? How can you leverage digital tools to overcome your business loses at this time? I have a few interesting ideas to share with you first, and as they say, waste your time, and waste your life! One way to use your time well maybe to sign up for an online class for the next few weeks – to learn new skills to continue to grow your business no matter the challenges. Besides, what’s there to lose? You’ve probably stuck at home anyway! Such online course may empower you, not only to “learn” something new, but to actually…refine your personality with determination – to help you get ahead when the virus may have been contained. Second, the shutdowns of non-essential business mean most transactions that would take place online. And this also means that, one way to survive the crisis is to explore taking your business virtual. If you own a gym business, for instance, you can live-streaming via zoom and your paid clients can watch and participate in the exercises in their homes. And this may also mean that by the time things return to the new normal, you are better prepared. Another thing is to create an online course. And the process is quite simple – look at aspects of your business that you can teach, such as baking, a credit programme, process improvement programme, or setting up a Montessori school, a travelling agency, or a research function. Then turn your experience in the area into an online course. So your paid audience, who are looking to learn something new, or to learn aspects of a new project they plan on starting by the time the crisis is over- can use this staying-at-home-time to take such courses. Again, while this provides you an extra stream of income to weather the storm, it also prepares your business on how to cater for clients in the new world, by the time the virus is contained.
Lastly, let’s face it. Young people today, are already living predominantly digital lifestyles, opting for online purchases in place of in-store purchases, mobile living, among others. Now the current crisis is taking this to a whole new level; it’s going to compel older people to rethink how they do business and how they live their lives. And that’s why, as a business owner, now is the time to think hard and actually begin to invest in online business strategies, so you can prepare how to cater for the emerging workforce and your customers’ new buying behaviour, when this is all over and when things return to a new normal.
Mike Hunder is an online course coach.
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