by Louise Burgers
Resilience is the most important quality any CEO or business owner can have right now. They need to be able to do anything and everything necessary to save their businesses during pandemic panic; trying out new strategies, testing, collaborating and testing again, says futurist, Dion Chang.
The Flux Trends founder is hosting a mini-masterclass to enable businesses to find solutions and break free from the inertia of uncertainty in the current economic recession, by developing a strategy or multiple strategies to deal with the most urgent challenges and to survive this time in our history. “We’ll join the dots for you,” says Chang. The new mini-masterclass series is aimed at any business owner that would benefit from listening to new ides that will hopefully spark solutions to rescue, salvage or resuscitate their businesses.
“That is really the main point of the session: to allow business owners to say what their most pressing challenge is; and we will try and research solutions, globally, for them. The coronavirus has created unprecedented complications and challenges for all companies and dealing with the ‘Great Staggering’ (the period between initial lockdown and full freedom from restrictions) is proving to be more difficult than we ever imagined. The concept of Anticipatory Grief and the open-endedness of a life in limbo, is creating unprecedented levels of anxiety for all business owners, whether they are small companies or corporate executives. The next six months is really going to be a make or break period, so Flux wants to try and assist with innovative ideas,” Chang said. Retailing Africa interviewed Chang on the most important things any business can do now to stay afloat.
1. What is the most important thing business needs to focus on right now?Basically, resilience trumps efficiency. Now, do whatever you can do to save your business… and for me that means multiple short-term strategies – and test, test, test. Don’t try make a grand plan per quarter. For our own website, I’ve gone from just giving trends, to providing more solution-based content. The biggest thing people are missing, is what relevance does your business still have in a changed societal mindset. Everyone wants to open up and get trading; but is your product or business still relevant?
2. How does anyone in business make sense of anything amidst all the uncertainty?
People are scared to reach out to others. There is a second wave of unintended economic impact: stockouts and supply chain problems. Collaborations between ancillary business and sectors would be a help. If everyone is bleeding, then do trade exchanges, pay it forward, collaborate, work together to forge something that wasn’t there before. I don’t think people are exploring that enough. Not everyone can innovate, but that is a mindset. Rather say: what are the links to my supply chains and how can I do things differently?
3. What did you have to do differently to ensure your own business and brand survival?
Luckily, we have quite a few corporate clients which had already commissioned reports and we could continue to do our research. We have the same problems as everyone else, as corporate budgets are tightened. Basically, CEOs are also chasing their tails. We had to migrate totally online. That was a learning curve in terms of presenting; we had to learn new tech; so there are parallels with everyone. We are doing more social media marketing – there are a lot of free tools out there. We must be open to learn new things. That is the fault of many: they have their blinkers on. We all need to work on the business, not just in the business. Do things you have not done before. Open up to new possibilities, so you are not gridlocked in inertia.
4. What is the most important piece of advice you would give any business owner or leader struggling to keep their business afloat, right now?
For me it is about reassessing what the relevance is to your business to a changed societal mindset. That has really been key. That is the blind spot everyone has. That is the most important point.
5. How does one keep positive in a scenario where you have to let staff go or cut salaries?
You have to distinguish between what you can control and what you can’t control. In terms of work, you have to be aware that there are three groups of people grieving: the Worried Well (they haven’t had Covid; they are in lockdown and still comfortable; maybe they are fed up with not being able to buy cigarettes, but they are okay); the Affected (those who have had Covid or are going through it in their families); the Bereaved (those who have had deaths in their family). If you have a workforce with those people in all those categories, it will affect social dynamics at work. Business owners need to make people aware of that grief and the three types of grief. We all need to be more understanding, increase our empathy. This time is not just about bottom-line profits; it really is about reaching out and caring. People respond to brands a lot more if they are more empathic.