It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Coronavirus changed the world overnight, with very little warning. Just a few weeks ago, no one would have believed that an entire country could be closed with all of its citizens locked in. Today, this is not only a reality in Italy but also in Spain and France. Governments and institutions are scrambling to provide peace of mind, calm, and eventually, a solution. Many people have begun working remotely, whilst others face the bleak prospect of sudden unemployment.
There is no doubt that the situation is serious, and right here, I would like to thank all the healthcare workers, emergency and community support personnel, and scientists, who are working very hard. They do well beyond what anyone expects and are often underpaid and underappreciated. For entrepreneurs, this period presents an opportunity to solve problems and make people lives better, in a sustainable way.
Work from home revolution
There has never been a better time to shift work from a central office to a remote workplace. No matter where you’re located, you can accomplish an increasing number of tasks and duties remotely. Research has shown that employees are more productive when they are not confined to the walls of their office, and free to balance their work and personal lives.
Whilst the Coronavirus will continue to force employers to let workers work from home for some time, I strongly discourage returning to normal once the dangers of the virus are minimised. Entrepreneurs are not usually the best people managers, you have far too many other exciting projects to think about. You should trust your team, wherever they are, without strict restrictions. If you don’t trust your team, you’ve probably failed during the recruitment process.
Consider the additional benefits of having employees working remotely as a normal business policy. There will no longer be the need to commute to work, decreasing unproductive time, stress levels, and pollution. Employees will save on transport costs, be able to start working earlier, and will help the planet too. This is just one example of sustainability brought about by remote working.
Convenience as a business policy
The need to offer convenience to customers might sound obvious to many entrepreneurs, yet it is surprising how many do not realise that by limiting choice they are limiting convenience. Whilst too much choice may paralyse a customer, giving a sufficient selection of option is the best way to attract a broader market and keep customers happy. Restaurants are generally superb at offering convenience, providing a varied menu, allowing clients to eat in, take out or request delivery, and supporting multiple payment methods.
This, in a nutshell, is what you should be looking at when thinking of a new business proposition. Convenience has always been an integral part of any solution, but it has never been so critical. Currently, non-essential businesses must remain shut in many European and American cities. This means that unless customers can request delivery and order online, the businesses’ revenues are essentially frozen. Similarly, those that do not accept credit cards online or via device are also refusing potential sales.
With many clients currently in lockdown due to the Coronavirus, the market has never had so much time to search elsewhere for more convenient options. In most cities, couriers and mail providers continue to operate, which means that now, more than ever, your competitor might be located at the other end of the planet. The only way to beat the competition is to offer a more convenient solution for your customers.
A look at the future of business
There is little doubt in my mind that the alarm raised by the Coronavirus will eventually pass. Life will return to a degree of normality. However, do not be fooled. The world has already changed. The next 12 months will see a shift in the workforce. There will probably be a potential increase in the number of healthcare support workers, supermarket stackers, and delivery persons. Many sectors of the economy, such as education and professional services, to even politics, are shifting to video conferencing and distant interaction.
Entrepreneurs should start looking at how this change in the way we do things will give rise to new opportunities, and make previously sustainable businesses obsolete. As creative individuals, we should research ways to understand what the future might bring and begin preparing for it today. Businesses developing a cure for Coronavirus already exist and are already making headway in the production of a vaccine. Entrepreneurs should, therefore, not look for the cure of this virus, but look ahead for cures to upcoming challenges.