What I’ve Learned From COVID-19: So Far … Part One

What I’ve Learned From COVID-19: So Far … Part OneThere are huge lessons we can all learn from the current pandemic. My intention was to write a simple summary of my main observations and takeaways, but in reality there is so much you can apply in your business that I’ve split this into four parts.

The famous quote, “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy,” from Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of Staff of the Prussian army in WW1, is profound on many levels. Less profound, but equally apt, was former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson’s version: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Neither of these men was suggesting that the plan has no value: they were simply highlighting that scenarios rarely pan out the way the plan predicts.

Be ready

No one could have foreseen the Coronavirus pandemic, but in business you cannot foresee many things – a supplier going bust, or a new technology that will threaten demand for your product are just two of the hundreds of examples I could give you.

Did you know that Blockbuster Video (in its day a brilliant innovation that created a whole new marketplace and a high-margin retail mega-business) had the opportunity to buy Netflix? They turned it down based on an illusion of strength and blindness to a looming seismic shift in the market. Imagining the boardroom when that decision was taken sends shivers down my spine.

Most businesses, and more importantly business owners, are ill-prepared for change. Were you ready? I don’t expect you were ready for a pandemic, but were you ready to adapt? Did you know where to go for support or a sounding board for your ideas?

Stay in good company

By nature, business owners are usually optimists and have full belief in their own abilities. This is both their greatest strength and biggest weakness in equal measure. You see, many business owners are exceptionally good at what they do – be that the product they produce or service they deliver – but that doesn’t make them exceptional business people.

If an outside advisor looks at your business, removing the bias towards your natural abilities, they will see a wider scope of opportunity. I’m not suggesting everyone rush out and hire a consultant – far from it – but there is a wealth of knowledge in your existing business network: you just need to tap into it.

Anyone who has ever seen an out of office message from me will know I attend masterminds regularly. I gain insights into other businesses, I learn different approaches to solving problems and I have a sounding board for my own ideas.

Masterminds haven’t stopped just because we’re on lockdown – in fact, we now have the chance to meet efficiently and regularly online. Same insights, same learning, zero carbon footprint – it’s a win-win-win. If you’re interested in attending a mastermind, please get in touch.

Next time, I’ll be looking at the opportunities and threats for business finances resulting from COVID-19.

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