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Ask Kirubi

COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Future Direction for Entrepreneurs

It is without a doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the whole world by surprise. Although its full impact is yet to be determined, it has certainly taken a toll on our economy, businesses and our day to day lives. The global health crisis has had a disruptive impact on the way people, cities and the world sees itself. 

I believe we may have all gone through this cycle; the panic, the fear, the confusion and now we have or are learning how to live with and accept this reality. With no end in sight, there’s no need to keep complaining because self-pity and whining will not help you. This is the time to deal and thrive through the chaos and the seismic changes. 

I am sure that each one of us has learnt several lessons from this pandemic and in this article I will share some of mine. The strategies we have implemented with my teams that have kept my businesses running during these uncertain times. I look forward to reading some of yours too.

#1 Flexibility and Adaptability 

I am sure my fellow entrepreneurs can attest to the fact that business flexibility and adaptability is and was the first thing that came to mind after the outbreak. Considering the dramatic character of the crisis, every business in every industry is striving to weather unprecedented disruption and operational impacts. 

How do we adapt to the new normal? How do we move from surviving to thriving? 

As new information flows in everyday, you have to make adjustments and bring flexibility to your business. Clinging on to established methods, processes, ways of doing things and comfort zones will not help manage and address the challenges your company is currently facing. It is the ability to adapt that will help your business come out of this crisis stronger. 

For business continuity, companies must adjust to new working paradigms, new ways of servicing clients, communicating with their employees and new technology to support these changes. 

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If need be, go back to the drawing board to find what works for you and your business.

#2 Digitization (E- Commerce)

I have said this time and time again, digitization is here with us and it is the future. The pace at which our world is turning to digitization is accelerating. It’s becoming a megatrend. Companies including mine have shifted to remote-working models and have had to alter their practices almost overnight. With social distancing and closing of borders, there has been accelerated migration to digital technologies at a stunning scale and speed, across every sector.

How do you engage with digital technologies going forward?

With this in mind, the need to adopt operational processes that are more efficient arises and as a business owner you need to quickly rethink your customer base and accelerate the development of digital solutions. The emphasis will be different for each sector but this  will help you ensure business continuity during these unpredictable times.

#3 Have a Plan B

At the moment, we are all looking for new ways of doing things, sadly this cuts through from our families to our businesses. Many times we often confuse a Plan B as an alternative or a completely different approach. However, that’s not necessarily true. Your Plan B should always be the approach that will eventually drive Plan A.

You don’t necessarily need a replacement or an alternative but just an addition or extension of your plan. This can include things like expanding your processes, operations or resources. 

This has been as evident during these times as we have seen companies rethinking and producing things like sanitizers, face masks etc. This has helped them in staying grounded in the ever-changing business environment and competition from the well-established enterprises. 

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When you have a Plan B as an entrepreneur you can and will always approach the business world with confidence.

#4 Partnerships Are Key

As I have always said no business thrives in isolation. If there is time in the entrepreneurial world that we have seen enterprises partner with each other it has been during this pandemic. We have seen companies around the world pivoting and partnering their way into helping each other navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an entrepreneur you need to look for companies or businesses that you can partner with to offer solutions, services or goods that are needed by the markets. There is so much value addition that can be actualized if companies come together. Through partnerships companies can pool resources that can help cushion them during such times. 

#5 Build More Mental Strength

These are unprecedented times. When the year started off, we did not expect to be here. This may take a toll on our mental health. Not only for entrepreneurs but everyone. As for me one of my hardest moments has been how to keep all my employees at work and not sending any of them home. 

We have to strive to build more mental strength that will see us through difficult times. Start by making your  mental health a priority during times of high stress and uncertainty. 

Find coping measures like talking and sharing your challenges with your friends, family and professionals in your industry. This is key to helping you manage your distress during this pandemic. But if you feel like these strategies are not working, reach out to a professional. https://www.bonga.or.ke/

Things may feel stressful right now but know that the pandemic won’t last forever. Keep the big picture in mind.

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At the moment we all have an opportunity before us to build resilient global communities, companies, countries and families. The time is now for us to swing towards the “new normal.” It is not going anywhere. The new normal is the normal. Things will never go back to normal. 

It is time to review our strategies. 

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