Miki Velemirovich is the President of Cargo, a full-service marketing and advertising agency that specializes in helping big brands market to small businesses. Cargo is an expert in the Business to Small Business space coining the term B2SB Marketing®.
How can businesses smooth the transition of reopening their business in the coming weeks or months?
First and foremost, if the businesses have not applied for all the relevant financial help available to them, they need to make this their priority. There are many great programs provided by the Canadian Government, and they are all designed to facilitate the recovery. As businesses re-open, they need to focus on keeping their employees safe. For those that can run their operations on a remote work model, they should keep the model running for as long as possible. For those businesses that cannot, business owners should roll out as many health and safety protocols as possible. A staff that feels safe and protected will be able to get to work quicker, making the transition a lot smoother.
In the very same way, businesses need to be focused on the changes to their consumers’ attitudes towards the physical distance, health, and safety. This does not require massive amendments of operations and business models; rather small pivots to fit the current consumer attitudes. Just remember, if you can reduce the consumer anxiety of doing business with you, you will ensure that your customers will stay. So, if your business was heavily reliant on “high touch”, like large gatherings and close human interaction, try to quickly move to virtual and remote settings. And if they heavily depended on the physical sales environment, quick pivots to a digitalization of sales process via e-commerce platforms will keep the flow as the recovery continues.
Finally, business owners and leaders should always lean on their peers. I have heard of so many great stories of resilience and creativity in the Canadian business community, businesses changing course quickly to adapt. And those stories are an inspiration to many. And are just a chat away. Small businesses form a community and they should lean on one another for inspiration.
2. What are the differences between business operations pre and post-COVID and what is your advice to small businesses adapting to the new normal?
There will be many changes in the business landscape post-COVID-19. Until we get a proven vaccine out in substantial numbers, we are going to be living with this virus. The time it takes to get to a proven vaccine may define what sticks and what does not. Some behaviors will surely be temporary, but some will simply become just how we do things from now on. I define this crisis like the Great Reinvention, where the innovation curve has just accelerated: remote work, tele, and virtual everything, “low touch” or contact-free economy, and a digital landscape that we never thought possible in such a short time. This just may be the beginning of a new era. I don’t even see it as the new normal as normal means typical and there will be nothing typical about how we will conduct business post-COVID-19.
Small business owners should enter this phase with an open mind, and desire for innovation. My advice for any business leader is to take a good look at the existing business model and see whether it will still fit the changes in consumer behavior. That’s the starting point. Will I be able to serve my customers in the same way? Will my product or service still be relevant? If the answer is no, then it’s time to tweak or change the business model to suit the changing consumer behavior aspects. If the broken supply chain was the culprit of much of the revenue loss during the initial days of the pandemic, the business leaders should take a good look at it. More balance, more local content, and supplier choice will be the new requirement. And when it comes to business design, resilience and efficiency will provide the new post-COVID-19 business models the speed and lightness they will need to better deal with any new crisis.