Most of us entered March 2020 innocently, not having any idea that the world as we knew it was about to stop. What came during that month and after was unprecedented. There have been pandemics in the past, but never one that shut down seemingly the entire world so quickly. It’s hard to fault business owners for mistakes made during the pandemic. Every business had to take a pause and figure out how to move forward. The best we can do is look at the mistakes that were made and learn and grow from them.
Bill Gates had it right when he said, “Learning from mistakes and constantly improving products is a key in all successful companies .”We can now look back on the biggest mistakes companies made, and learn from them. The next crisis a business has to face might not be a pandemic, but these lessons learned can apply and can help a business navigate the rough waters.
Biggest Mistakes Companies Made
As humans, we have three responses to fear- fight, flight, and freeze. Those that froze in the face of the Covid-19 shutdowns had a tough time. As the whole world shut down and went on lockdown in 2020, some businesses obeyed the orders to shut their doors, and then they froze. They didn’t do anything else except wait to see what came next. This inaction would prove to be their downfall. As the lockdowns wore on, way past the original “two weeks to slow the spread,” it became glaringly obvious businesses couldn’t just freeze and wait it out anymore.
Some business owners took a drastic next step and started cutting costs everywhere. Especially evident in marketing departments, massive cuts happened everywhere. Advertising by some companies came to an abrupt halt. These major cuts led to major problems down the road. The philosophy was “no money in, no money out.” But people still needed goods and services. There was still money to be made; companies just had to figure out how to administer their products in a vastly different landscape than just a month before.
Much like the companies that froze, some companies didn’t make the necessary changes. This refusal to innovate hindered every company that chose this option. It was becoming increasingly clear that the world was not going to return to normal any time soon. To survive, a company needed to figure out how it could keep serving the public, even as the public was on lockdown in their homes.
Plans needed to be made, both for the short term and the long term. Business was not going to be “business as usual .”Every business needed to come up with a way to get through the week, the month, and then hopefully, the year. There needed to be plans in place for how to get through each increment of time as the pandemic marched on. There needed to be a plan for how to proceed once things started to get back to normal. It was hard to predict when it would happen, but the world couldn’t stay locked down forever. Even though the plans would change time and time again, businesses needed to have some sort of direction if they wanted to stay afloat. The businesses that didn’t plan out anything were at the mercy of the lockdowns and regulations, which were not going to favor them.
As things changed, businesses needed to be in communication with their team, constantly. To keep moving forward, every part of the business needed to be on the same page. This was hard to do, as there were no in-person meetings. Email was a difficult way to have conversations and keep everyone on the same page. Company communication never required so much effort, but those that didn’t make the effort had many communication breakdowns. These breakdowns made it even harder for a business to survive.
It seemed like things went from bad to worse almost weekly for businesses that weren’t adapting to the “new normal” the pandemic produced. There was a silver lining, though. There were businesses that were changing and innovating everything. From the way they advertised to the way they delivered their goods and services, businesses that were making changes were going to come out on top of the pandemic.
How to Avoid Making These Mistakes in the Future
The biggest lesson learned from every company was about rigidity in their business. In order to survive the lockdown and everything that came with the pandemic, every business had to pivot and change. This meant changing everything, from marketing to how their product or service was delivered to their customers. The companies that held off on changes of any kind were the ones who were soon left behind as their competitors started innovating and evolving. Any company that was rigid wasn’t going to weather this storm.
To grow and change, many businesses had to get creative. This couldn’t be up to only the decision-makers of the company. Companies needed to listen to their employees and their ideas. Open lines of communication were essential. Virtual meetings and virtual one-on-ones reconnected the associates who were physically separated from each other. As communication grew and flourished, so did ideas of how to change. Business owners turned to their employees to find ways to change and better serve their customers. The old saying is a necessity is the mother of invention, and customers needed businesses in new ways. All members of the team were now needed for a business to roll with the punches Covid-19 kept throwing.
Companies that were making it through the pandemic were making plans all along the way. With each change, there was a new way for the company to embrace the change and innovate. Plans were made for both the immediate future, with the ever-changing rules and regulations, and for the long term. These plans gave business owners and employees alike a direction. Customers began to see what companies were still there for them and in what capacity.
As some companies were making drastic cuts to their marketing, others were using their marketing as an opportunity. They were comforting their customers, letting them know their company was still there to serve their customers. While their product or service might look a little different, these companies were doing everything within their power to be there for their customers. With everyone home more, digital advertising exploded. Businesses needed their customers to know how they were faring, and that they were there. Everyone was online more, and online ordering was the face of what was going to be the new normal. No matter what product or service a company offered, the ones that figured out how to go online with it and its marketing were the ones that made money.
Every company needed to innovate. Their product or service had to have an online element. Web pages and digital ads were more important now than ever. Innovation and staying ahead of competitors were what made businesses successful in one of the most trying times the world has ever known. Companies that figured out how to change and how to be there for their customers were getting clicks and were making money. Those that didn’t innovate and change were stuck and were in real danger of becoming Covid-19 casualties.
The big takeaway from the Covid-19 pandemic was that companies need to communicate, be flexible, and above all, be innovative. Those companies that did just that during the pandemic emerged successful. Not only did they weather the storm, but they came out with some incredible benefits.
Not only surviving but thriving in the face of the pandemic gave many companies confidence. They gained the confidence to change and evolve. They gained the confidence to be bold. These companies now have the confidence to keep pushing the envelope and keep pushing for their industry to be better. We will watch these companies as they become the leaders in their industries because they know they will make it through any crisis.
Customers and consumers know which companies froze up, and which ones were their rock. There is a new kind of brand loyalty as customers know which businesses will be there for them in the future. These customers will remain fiercely loyal because they know the companies have been loyal to them.
The Covid-19 pandemic had effects and consequences for everyone. The best we can do is learn from any mistakes and missteps that were made. We can learn from those companies that chose to innovate. In an extremely difficult business landscape, these businesses found a way and emerged better than ever. We can learn to tackle these challenges with confidence, as there will be more challenges, big and small, in the future.