BY Fast Company 3 MINUTE READ

There’s never been a tougher time for entrepreneurs and small businesses. While individuals adapt to the “new normal” way of living and working, businesses are scrambling to transform their operations to be suitable for unprecedented Covid-19 consumer behaviour and demand. 

As they say, constraint and disruption are often the catalyst for innovation, and in the era of lockdown and social distancing, this could not be more true. To mitigate the effects of lockdown on your business, and rather work it to your advantage, these 5 tips are the way to go: 

Accept that remote working is here to stay 
There’s so much talk of the “new normal”, and while no one can predict with any certainty how that will look, what is for sure is that remote working is here to stay. And that might be a good thing. Right now, entrepreneurs should be putting in place the kind of technology that will facilitate this new way of working. Consider it an investment for your business – the returns of which can be enormous. The wide variety of video technology and cloud products currently available means there is sure to be something to match your exact needs. As a business, you simply cannot afford to miss the boat on securing this capability. 

Don’t be tempted to cut marketing and advertising spend
It can be tempting to cut marketing and advertising spend in times of uncertainty and turmoil. However, with lockdown restrictions still in full force, more people are online now than ever before, and with social distancing measures likely to remain in place for months to come, we can expect the online space to continue being our virtual communities, our source of entertainment, and the place where we do most of our work. Now is the time to ensure you have a well planned aggressive –  but considered – digital marketing and advertising strategy. Reaching people is key, and people are online. Use the time to build your digital pipeline, which starts with building relationships with clients in the online space.  

A little empathy goes a long way
One of the most underrated skills an entrepreneur can have is empathy. This is a difficult time for everyone – people are struggling mentally and emotionally, a reality that is being exacerbated by financial uncertainty. It’s important to take the time to listen to your staff. Get a better understanding of what their circumstances are, so that you know how and where you can support them.

Now is the time to reassess the culture of your business and make necessary adjustments. For your business to survive, it’s imperative that your team feels safe, confident and supported. Show them you care by listening and communicating effectively. Employees who feel supported are likely to return that support with their loyalty, as well as their best work. 

Embrace new business opportunities
Most businesses will have to pivot their offering in one way or another, which presents a huge opportunity if you can think out of the box. Entrepreneurs and business owners will have to come up with new products and fresh innovations to ensure they remain relevant. Case in point: The way many apparel companies have started producing masks with the resources that they have, and catering to the excessive demand. This process starts with listening and observing in order to ensure you not only understand the prevailing needs, but can also anticipate future demand patterns, then respond accordingly. Luckily this is the very essence of entrepreneurship. Now’s the time to reassess and readjust, and not merely react. 

Maintain a positive outlook 
Disruption, particularly for an entrepreneur, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A positive outlook may not be quantifiable but it is what will help deliver the clarity you’ll need to focus on what needs to be done to keep your business afloat, and growing into the future. 

Author: Shaune Jordaan is CEO of Hoorah Digital consultancy.