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Why and how businesses should change to survive coronavirus

By Atul Bhakta, CEO, One World Express

COVID-19 is forcing us all to drastically alter our ways of life. Simple pleasures like seeing a friend for drinks, or making a surprise visit to a relative, are now a thing of the past as we all make our best efforts to contain the spread of this new disease.

In such difficult times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – especially with the endless torrent of disheartening news in the media. Some are finding comfort in the great British WW2 adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, a reminder that normality will inevitably resume if we endure these particularly stressful times with dignity and grace.

However useful this sentiment may be for many at this time – for business owners it can spell disaster. The idea of ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ at a time when customers simply aren’t leaving their houses and multi-million-pound department stores are facing foreclosure is senseless. As ever, businesses must constantly adapt to survive the new reality.

If a company chooses to completely pause all activities until this pandemic is contained, it may not have the easiest time resuming operations once restrictions are lifted. Thousands of businesses across the country are currently implementing short-term contingency plans (a restaurant re-organising their business model to operate as a takeaway service, for example) and others are completely pivoting their business proposition to take advantage of the current situation and continue growing even through these stressful times. Companies that fail to do either of these things will be at a definite disadvantage once COVID-19 is contained.

Enterprising, energetic and ambitious

Atul Bhakta
Atul Bhakta

Founders are naturally the ambitious, positive-minded sort – thus already possessing the greatest tools to help themselves and others during this current crisis.

When faced with economic adversity, it’s impossible to understate the importance of being proactive when choosing your next step. You may even find that actions taken to protect your business in the short-term end up producing massive benefits for years to come.

This is something I’ve learnt first-hand with my experiences founding One World Express. As we persevered through the dotcom crash of the late 90’s, the global financial crisis (GFC) and years of Brexit uncertainty, we were constantly on the lookout for how best to work through any given crisis.

Often, this meant further investment in new technologies to place us ahead of other delivery logistics companies. This turned out to be a fantastic choice, as our own bespoke logistics software has now seen adoption in companies from around the world – especially national vendors who were eager to enter into the international market in the aftermath of the GFC.

Obviously, this is a specific example not entirely applicable to COVID-19, but it represents the tenacity needed to take full advantage of the current situation.

Those who have the idea that they will be able to coast through a complete evaporation of economic activity and merely retain their staff through Government wage support schemes, rather than continuing to seek new opportunities, will face certain hardships even after everything returns to business-as-usual. An organisation bankrupt in innovation or creativity is one that will struggle to adapt, whatever the context, and will become overshadowed by more agile competitors.

Global and Local thinking

One somewhat contradictory aspect of the current business landscape is it may serve companies best to think with both a local and global delivery mindset. Given government guidance that trips outside the home must only be for exercise, food or work, those wishing to access their customer base must set up new delivery systems.

Establishing a delivery network, licencing tracking software and choosing an online payment system all require dedicated work – but can all be accomplished quickly if approached with the right enthusiasm and dedication.

Once your ability to continue providing for your local customer base is set up, then comes the time to think globally. It is deceptively easy from this point to begin to offer your products or services to the world at large – through eBay, Etsy, or your own bespoke online store.

Entrepreneurs who have pivoted from, for example, operating a high-street storefront to selling online goods will likely miss out on the customers who may have discovered their physical presence by chance. By entering into the global market and allowing anyone in the world to buy your goods – you should surely make up for this loss of customer traffic.

This is why, for the months of April, May and June 2020, One World Express is waiving all consulting fees for individuals looking to learn how to access the global markets. Social distancing rules may have deeply affected our social lives, but it doesn’t have to affect a drive to succeed. With so much of the world population bored at home, you may have the chance to finally get your fantastic product into the hands of people who need it.