By Chanel Retief
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS ALSO BROUGHT with its opportunities, and according to South Africa-based futurists Graeme Codrington and John Sanei, it’s time to embrace the change and rather see it as a chance to try and rebuild your business, even if it is on the brink of falling apart.
- “STOP WAITING FOR THINGS TO GO BACK TO NORMAL, IT’S NOT GOING TO”
Don’t press the “huge pause button” on life. Codrington, a futurist who tracks disruptions through history, states that the era of the coronavirus could be with us longer than we think.
“The disruption that Covid is causing is going to be with us, I think for at least two more years. Even in the best-case scenarios, Africa will only get a vaccine [in 2021]. And it will take a few months, maybe the whole year to produce it, distribute around the world and convince people to take it.”
He adds that even once vaccines are made available, the level of comfort people felt previously doing ‘normal’ stuff every day will change.
“People are going to be nervous to fly, to travel, nervous to go out to restaurants to eat, nervous to go into public spaces. So you know, tourism, entertainment, hospitality is going to really struggle. In any scenario, you know, even the best scenario, you’re going to be struggling.
“So what we’ve got to realize is this deep disruption going on here.”
- “UNDERSTAND SEAMLESSNESS AND YOU CAN BECOME VERY SUCCESSFUL”
Sanei, a futurist who categorizes and contextualizes the future through human instinct, believes that businesses need to find a more seamless way to give consumers what they want. It can be an average idea, but as long as it’s something that could accommodate the consumers of today, who will likely not want to leave the confines of their home, you can be successful.
“The example I will use is Domino’s Pizza,” Sanei explains.
“They may not have the most amazing pizza but they’ve understood seamlessness getting a pizza to you as quickly as possible because they have the Ten Second App.”
The basis of understanding seamlessness is understanding what people want, especially during this time.
“And of course, that is going to differ depending on what industry you are in and depending on where you are, but this is where entrepreneurs can step up because the smaller your business is, the more local it is, the easier it is for you to make adjustments and shift and think ‘what can I do for my clients, my customers, what else can I do for them’?” says Codrington.
It has been reiterated by economists that businesses may have to close their doors and millions of people will find themselves unemployed if they haven’t already. However, futurists are certain that in situations like this, it’s best to either reinvent your business model – or reinvent yourself.
“Any advice I give to entrepreneurs is based on this principle that they must look for a gap. Ask yourself the question ‘what makes you most excited, and what can you bring to the world that’s uniquely yours, what is uniquely, and authentically me?’ And in that process, what we do is we add value to the world based on what we are here to do,” Sanei says.
“This is what every entrepreneur does and knows every single day,” Codrington adds. “If you add real value, and people see the value that you’re adding, they’ll buy from you. And so it obviously isn’t that simple for everybody. Because it’s tough. You know this is a tough economy. It’s a tough situation. But whether it’s tough or easy, that’s the right mindset. ‘What do people need, why should they buy it from me?’ If you ask those two questions and find answers, you’ll get through this.”
4. “GO BACK TO BASICS”
Codrington believes that this would be a perfect time to reeducate yourself on the basic structures of running a business. However, this can only happen after you have accepted that your business has suffered during this time but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“Because now you basically don’t cry about what could have been any more, but you say ‘what is and what exists now’. That’s what I think distinguishes entrepreneurs from corporate people anyway. Because entrepreneurs get up every morning saying, ‘I’ve got to make something happen today’,” Codrington says. It always comes back to what the consumer needs, and that is the main focus that gives the entrepreneur drive, Codrington says.
He further adds that during this crisis, adapting your business model to suit the time is what could preserve your business in the long haul. A practical example is how some hotels around the world have turned their businesses into ‘work from home’ offices.
“So they are saying, ‘you can’t go into the office, but you don’t want to be stuck at home, so why don’t you rent a room in our hotel, we’ll give you free bottomless coffee, we’ll give you room service’. You’re comfortable with the hotel. There’s no bed, you’re not sleeping at the hotel. You arrive in the morning. You go into a room, it’ll be your room only,” says Codrington.
5.“LEAVE THE OLD WORLD AND EMBRACE CHANGE”
Business models, such as supply and demand models, are not needed anymore. Having to expect people to walk into a shop and buy something is an old model that needs to be eradicated. Sanei further adds that because the world has “this thing called the internet”, passion for your business is all that is necessary.
“If your business is taking strain, and your business is dying, and you are nervous about it, it means that you haven’t understood a digital-first world. Which means that you haven’t understood that the world we’re going into has new rules attached. You need to understand that if your business is dying, the reason is because it’s not really for this world,” Sanai says.
As daunting as this time may be, endless opportunities await entrepreneurs. What guarantees your success during this time will be your behavior.
“And so the entrepreneurs of the future are the ones that understand that they are the machine, they are the business, and that they are the ones who are going to be making things happen. Not the ones relying on a sector, or a subject or a technology, because you have no idea and cannot guarantee and hedge your bets on anything that’s coming in the future,” Sanei says.