We are almost 9 full months into the year 2020. This has been a year characterised by unprecedented developments that have shaken most people to the core. Most businesses have either been forced to downsize their operations or go out of business altogether. For example, Lafarge Cement experienced a production decrease of at least 30 per cent during the second quarter of this year. Some surveys the world over have shown that over 50 per cent of businesses that temporarily shut down because of the pandemic have shut down for good. This is a testament to how most entrepreneurs were ambushed by COVID-19. Anyways, let us look at some business lessons from the past months.

Going Digital Is Imperative

Businesses that operate online have been the biggest winners during this period. A notable example is Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. The pandemic led to a spike in demand for products offered on Amazon. Amazon had to hire more workers to cope with the astronomical leap in business activity. Jeff Bezos’ net worth leapt by over US$20 billion in just the first few months of 2020. This is all thanks to the booming business Amazon has been experiencing. The reason has been simple – Amazon is an online business.

I once mentioned before that COVID-19 somehow forced entrepreneurs to embrace going digital – something most of them used to trivialize before. The spike in e-commerce is not going to magically fade away after the pandemic – it will stay and even grow further. This has been one of the biggest (and harshest) lessons for many. Go digital as a business; it is no longer optional – in fact, your business needs that to stay afloat and thrive in this new dispensation.

Embracing The Disruption Model Key To Pivoting And Building New Businesses

In one of my recent articles, I discussed the biggest disruptors in the world. Here is part of what I said in that article: A disruptor business entails products that alter existing markets in most cases even creating new ones. Setting up a disruptor business is somewhat simple, in theory. You just have to look at an existing industry and see where they are lacking – challenges if you will. Come up with a unique solution(s) that are far removed from the traditional approaches. If you manage to do that then you have yourself a disruptor business.

When you look at how things have unfolded this year you will notice that there has been a heightened need to relook at things. For instance, when we used to conduct teaching lessons physically there has been a need to shift to online teaching. When people used to go to a produce market physically, lockdowns came into play and that could not be done anymore. When a company had to conduct a physical meeting, it shifted to exploring virtual options to conduct the same. These are just 3 examples but they all point to one core issue – the need to come up with new and unique ways of doing things done differently before.

Innovative and enterprising minds that have paid close attention to this have come up with very good businesses. Even those with existing businesses that have adopted this mind-set have stayed relevant and afloat.

Can Your Business Be Scaled Or Pivoted?

Businesses that have stayed afloat or even grown rapidly, despite the pandemic, have a particular quality. That is the quality of being able to be scaled or pivoted. Again, Amazon is a perfect example of a business that has this quality in exceeding measure. This quality does not just happen but it all starts with the foundation with which you build a business. You have to factor in new age technological trends when building a business. Forecast in such a way that the business will gel with developing trends as and when they unfold. Before 2020 it might have seemed like digitizing your business was not necessary. However, some entrepreneurs digitized their businesses and when COVID-19 hit their businesses kept standing.

The lesson is for both those looking to start new businesses and those with existing ones. Assess your business idea or business, respectively, to see how best you can condition it to be easily scaled or pivoted over time.

These are 3 of some of the major lessons in the business world in 2020 so far. As you move forward there is still a need to forecast and plan. The good thing is that there are so many case studies to learn from. I urge you to collect as much data as possible about your business and analyse it. The thrust is to draw insights that will empirically inform your decisions moving forward. We still have a few months left to wrap this year up so take stock, draw lessons, and right your wrongs. You can still salvage your business if it has been underperforming or is on the brink of collapse.