Unlike past business disruption events, such as the great recession of 2008, COVID-19 ripped through the business community exposing risks that discriminated against face-to-face businesses much more so than businesses that don’t physically interact with their customers.
However, in the end, not many businesses were spared dealing with uncertainty and disruption at the very least.
The challenges in recovering are insurmountable for businesses like travel, hospitality, sports, retail, restaurant and many many more consumer facing industries.
COVID-19 will wipe out many familiar names and when the dust settles, what will be left, will be those businesses that found a way through. Survival of the fittest.
Among the greatest challenges business leaders face is how to continue to turn a profit while balancing customer and employee safety. Customers will not interact with a business unless they feel safe to do so, and employees will not perform for a business if they feel uneasy about their work environment. Businesses need to focus on both customer and employee confidence while having a path to profitability or risk extinction.
Airlines and restaurants will not survive at 25-50% capacities. A wave of bankruptcies is coming before any vaccine. This will have a cascading effect on asset classes such as real estate and capital equipment. THings will get much worse before getting better.
It helps if the leaders have been through prior crises or not. Having been through several stops and starts in business I know there is an endgame and the challenge is simply getting from here to there without being forced to close the doors forever.
New skill sets will need to be mastered to deal with a post COVID economy. Hiring, training and working will be different than before. Businesses will need to become adept with new technologies that will facilitate new ways to do things. For example, master conducting interviews via web-cam rather than in-person, install thermal cameras to passively monitor body temperatures, learn to work with personal protective equipment, create and enforce new policies and procedures for employee hygiene and decontamination of work areas.
Another challenge post in a COVID-19 economy will be around the ever changing economic uncertainty and consumer confidence. With consumers being the bulk of economic activity, as COVID-19 progresses, with no vaccine currently, there will always be a tendency for consumers to pull their purse strings tighter, which in turn will place a drag on consumer confidence and ripple into the economy in numerous sectors. Unfortunately the worst is yet to come.
COVID-19 however, also brings with it opportunities. When business leaders stand on the cliff and stare into the abyss, they are forced into making decisions that ensure survival of their enterprise. This creates opportunities to cut waste, take stock in what’s working and what is not. Businesses that survive the pandemic will emerge stronger and more efficient. Business leaders that survive will emerge as better leaders. Unfortunately some businesses, no matter what they do or who their leader is, won’t stand a chance to make it through COVID-19.