We can't deny that we are in a weird moment in time. Whether the fears over COVID-19 are well-placed or misguided is not what is relevant to your business. What is relevant is the disruption that has been caused. There is no argument that things are very different than they were even two weeks ago. The world hit the pause button. Travel, face-to-face meetings, trade shows, pitch slams, all are gone for the time being. But, when the world hits pause, we, as entrepreneurs, hit fast-forward.
There is absolutely no value in spending even two seconds of your day lamenting on what could have or should have been. That's what far too many will choose to do. Instead, use this time to take action. There are plenty of opportunities right now for those who think differently and who move on that thinking.
Many buyers are at home. True, they aren't taking physical meetings, and in the near term, they may be overwhelmed by the impact of panic buying. But, when that settles down, which it will, they are still going to be at home and won't be distracted by the banalities of the usual office happenings. That is a great time to reach out to them. Suggest a Facetime meeting or use Zoom or Google Meet. Ask if you can send some samples to their homes for them to try and share with their families.
The same holds true with investors. They are home, glued to the stock ticker watching the market, longing for something to pull them away from the uncertainty. Reach out, offer to jump on a video call. Send them samples to enjoy. Be creative in your outreach. Try videos, care packages, whatever might help you stand out.
As far as consumers, remember empathy is a superpower, and right now, we all have this as a shared experience. Thinking empathically, how does your product help at this moment? Are your products immune-boosting, stress-reducing, do they provide comfort, fun, a distraction? Most, if not all of you, created your brand to solve a problem or to fill a need. During this extraordinary time, how is that problem or need manifesting? Answer these questions and adjust your messaging and activity, and you may unearth an opportunity.
This is also a great time to work on the other elements of your business that too often get pushed down the priority list. Update your financials, budgets, work on your business processes, and long-term planning. Review syndicated data, update your sales presentation, and investor decks. There is likely no want of things to do. So, do them!
In my 30-plus years, I've been through more than a few periods where fear has caused significant business disruption. Y2K, the Gulf War, 9/11, SARS, the Great Recession and more. During those times, we all heard the hard-luck stories. Yet, if you look past those, you'll find many who used those periods to take game-changing steps forward in their business. They saw the opportunity amidst the chaos. You can be one of those entrepreneurs. When the world hits pause, you hit fast-forward.
Elliot Begoun is the founder of TIG, a practice focused on helping emerging natural product brands grow. TIG positions CPG brands to raise capital, prove velocity, gain distribution and win market share.
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