Dealing with a major crisis
How do five entrepreneurs deal with the current economic situation? I hosted a video call and learned a lot that can be applied also in different aspects of our lives…
Here we are, having a team meeting online. It reminds me of my corporate days when I would host calls with colleagues scattered all over Europe. Only this time, the people in the call are entrepreneurs like myself. We all have different businesses, some of which we never thought could work online. But with the current situation, we got creative and shifted our businesses online. I am sharing these stories because I firmly believe that they can be inspiring for other entrepreneurs and also for people in corporate jobs. Let’s have a look:
Judith (Grinberg practitioner)
In this job, she offers a mixture of massage and mental coaching to relieve her clients from physical tension and pain. This is a 1:1 setup based on touching people. So obviously, the government rules to shut down practices was a huge blow.
And while Judith had been following the Corona situation since its early days, she had not foreseen to consider offering her services online. Now, she discovered that she can in fact help clients virtually as well with phone calls or video calls. She is in touch with colleagues and Grinberg organizations regularly and with this exchange, she is learning more and more on how to work online in a field that naturally would be offline.
So plan B eventually turned into plan A and showed her how she can extend her business also to people who are traveling or don’t have the time to visit her in her practice.
In terms of pricing, Judith likes to maintain the levels as long as the service stays comparable. But she supports people whose financial situations have deteriorated due to the crisis by offering reduced prices.
Overall, what the crisis has taught her is to compare less, to hesitate less and to simply do it.
Philipp (life coach and trainer)
He enjoys sharing his expertise on neuro-linguistic programing (NLP) and next to this, supports executives in difficult business situations. He had his year 2020 laid out with a variety of projects and was progressing well when Corona came to Europe. And bit by bit, his projects fell apart and he decided to refocus his business online.
Philipp is actively working towards business success instead of hoping for it, or hoping for government aids. He therefore is working full steam ahead and sees the opportunities coming from the crisis. He remembers seeing the differences of mindset with other fresh entrepreneurs: on the one hand people who would aim low and try to cover their monthly expenses. On the other hand, people who were thinking big and were not scared away by tax topics or selling abroad.
Now in the crisis, he hasn’t stopped offering his services to individual or business customers – not asking for sure means “no”. But asking might actually bring a “yes”.
And while Philipp enjoys deliberating on strategic decisions, he feels that implementation and doing operative work is what brings progress… where the rubber hits the road.
Julia (aroma therapist)
Her customers get individual consultations to find the smells that help them reach a certain mental frame: creative, relaxed, energized, etc.. A business that revolves around customers smelling something, so hardly something that can be done online… Or can it?
The crisis showed to Julia that her services can also be offered online at a comparable quality. And it opened her eyes that she can offer online courses for numerous customers instead of individual sessions. And being online opens the market to other countries as well, starting with the other German speaking countries, meaning a tenfold increase of potential customers.
In terms of pricing, Julia is very clear in communicating that any promotions now are temporary. She is aware of the risks of everyone offering substantial discounts as these may ruin the market in the long run, even after the acute crisis time is over.
Fully motivated to keep building her new business, she is convinced that doing is better than thinking about doing.
Michael (trainer and social business founder)
He runs two businesses in parallel: as a presentation trainer, he teaches people to speak in public and has contracts with various institutions. Next to this, he is the founder and manager of an organization that picks up unsaleable products from manufacturers and sells them at a discount price to NGOs.
While Michael firmly believes in his social business, he also knows that it is risky to put all eggs in one basket, especially with his first child on the way. He always assumes that any of his income channels can dry up from one day to the next. And precisely this strategy is helping him now as one business is doing well while the other is struggling.
When it comes to offering services or products abroad, he points out that all of these options were available also before the crisis. But given the typical Austrian mentality of security, inertia and risk avoidance, many companies avoided this step. And only now in the crisis, some are discovering the opportunities.
Michael is energized by speaking with his entrepreneur peers who are also struggling and in their exchanges spark new ideas and motivation to keep going.
Hussein (digital transformation consultant)
He supports people to bring their business models into the 21st century. And when it comes to dealing with a crisis, he states it very clearly: a crisis is a situation you did not expect. You did not calculate the risk and therefore, you find yourself struggling.
The first step to overcoming a crisis is to acknowledge it. This is the time to take a step out of the bubble and to analyze what is going on. Once this is done, step 2 is clear communication, to yourself and to stakeholders. And this is when you take measures to turn the challenge into an opportunity and discover new ways for your business.
He describes nicely how his fellow Egyptians are seizing opportunities: many private people are cooking at home and offering their food locally to neighbors using social media platforms to spread the word. Since restaurants are closed and many people don’t cook (for whatever reasons), this service is very popular. This of course is a very local business. But opening up your business model to online channels or an international audience brings an ocean of new potential customers.
What I loved about this call was to see the entrepreneurial spirit in each of the participants. Some were in a brief phase of shock when the crisis hit, but eventually all rolled up their sleeves and found ways to keep their businesses going.
The crisis opened the eyes of all of us to see the amazing opportunities that lie in crises. Looking at some of our original business models, it seems difficult to transform it into an online solution, but we all found our ways. Sticking heads into the sand and hoping for the best is the worst strategy.
Openly exchanging with peers allows mutual support and in turn allows each of us to make progress. Especially when the conversation is lead in a way that there is no sense of rivalry or envy.
I believe that all three mentioned aspects hold true also for people in big corporations, both on operative and on management levels. Especially major companies can benefit from having "intrapreneurs" with similar mindsets as the ones of the people I described here.
Do you have something to add? Leave a comment under my LinkedIn post.