Isolate yourself, not your business: How to adapt in turbulent times

Mar 2020 · Finance

Unilever’s Innovation Project Lead, Oliver Camp posted some wise words on LinkedIn last week,

 

‘Now is not the moment to abort all plans. If anything, it’s time to go out and start finding new opportunities & new partnerships’.

He is not alone. UK newspapers including The Guardian and The Telegraph, financial news sites such as Bloomberg and Fund Intelligence as well as marketing sites such as The Drum and Campaign are just some whose journalists are penning stories citing the rapid shift in the tectonic plates of working practices and the opportunities that have erupted forth.

These words could be easy to dismiss while your efforts are spent desperately trying to plug the leaks caused from the sudden economic downturn. There is also the concern that the word ‘new’ often comes hand in hand with the word ‘risk’. In such uncertain times the idea of reviewing how you’ve always managed and marketed your business can be a daunting prospect. To take advantage of these new opportunities you need to move fast and make clever partnerships. Legacy systems exist from more steady times where businesses had a clear roadmap of progressions, however these legacy systems can become a roadblock to adaptability and growth.

Now is the time to listen more than ever to what consumers want and need. One of the key components of agility is the ability to make faster decisions, which means the need to move decision making closer to the customer. The restaurant industry has reacted swiftly and with imagination in this time of crisis. Bars and restaurants are now takeaways, bottle shops, delicatessens. Others are selling hampers, fresh meal-kits or offering online cookery courses.

The finance world is also being forced into uncharacteristically fast change. Firms like Capital Group, Vanguard and BlackRock were quick to reach out to their client base, adapting their digital marketing strategies with digital briefings and web conferences to answer clients’ insight needs. Across the board industries are rallying to maintain their business and continue to grow their customer base.

With the role of digital never more important, harnessing it quickly and effectively can give you the flexibility to deliver conceived concepts fast. MVP’s can go up in a matter of weeks with relatively low investment. Products are measurable and trackable delivering proven ROI. It is imperative to find new partnerships with agencies who are best at moving fast and adapting, delivering concepts to market in weeks not months.

Studies show that opportunity recognition and innovation in tough economic periods are stronger determinants of startup success and new ideas than in periods of economic prosperity. During the last great recession Jack Welch, the late CEO of GE, said “Leaders emerge during trying times.” This is not a time for cowardice or fear-based thinking. The landscape is undeniably challenging, however this is a time for innovation, agility and sticking it out for the long game.

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