Exposed, Part I

In a recent video, I spoke about how the coronavirus pandemic is a balance of opposites: loss vs. renewal; darkness vs. light; threats vs. opportunities. While it’s important for us to pay attention to the threats posed to us and our businesses, I prefer to explore the abundance of opportunities it also presents. And it would be a mistake to focus only on external opportunities and overlook those that are being brought to light within our companies.

I‘m not suggesting that we’re out of the woods with COVID-19 by any measure, but I thought this would be a good time to hit the pause button on our hyperactivity, catch our breath a bit, and ask ourselves some questions.

What have we learned so far from this pandemic and all the social and financial upheaval it has caused to so many of us and our businesses?

Let’s start with business.

Have we learned that we weren’t quite as prepared for the disruption to our financial wellbeing as we thought we were? Has it reframed an overconfidence we might have gained as a result of an extended period of growth? Did we learn that when customers suddenly stop buying from us or stop paying for our services, we quickly realize how vulnerable and interdependent our businesses really are?

But all lessons aren’t painful; some are joyful. Maybe this pandemic has helped you discover that all the hard work and fiscal discipline you exercised for years is paying off by putting you in a favorable financial position to better weather this storm or to leverage your financial position when others can’t.

Then there are lessons about accountability. I was asked recently how the COVID-19 crisis has changed the need for accountability. I told the interviewer that it hasn’t. The need has been there all along, but perhaps COVID-19 has changed the way we hold people accountable. The crisis might have taught us that we weren’t doing a very good job of holding people accountable before, and now we’re suddenly getting religion about the need for it. So, the lesson is to take accountability seriously all the time, whether the person is working in the office next to yours or remotely from home. That’s an opportunity that will pay long-term dividends.

What about sales, and marketing, and customers? Are you learning that your active approach to sales and marketing is now paying off? Are the relationships you’ve painstakingly built with customers over the years now supporting you as you move to digital sales calls? One of the things I’ve observed is how non-touch selling has brought out a whole new level of creativity in the best sales and marketing professionals.

How about your revenue streams? Have you learned some of your more profitable streams have been carrying the water for less profitable ones? Or that one revenue source represents an unhealthy dominance of your total revenue? If so, our current situation might present a big opportunity to address that imbalance.

The pandemic is a horrible thing and it is wreaking havoc on a lot of lives. But with our businesses, I think it’s done as much to expose areas that should have been addressed long ago as it has to bring havoc to them. And therein lies the opportunities.

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