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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Unfortunately, we are reaching the terrible one-year mark of the pandemic and we are still learning what we can and cannot do, as the entire world continues to search for alternatives to adapt to this scenario.
From the disruptive virus that spread around the world in less than 30 days, the incessant search for drugs that would reduce pollution and mortality; physical and social confinement and detachment; the closure of countries and markets until the long-awaited vaccine and the apprehension regarding the variants of the virus.
But what can we learn briefly after a year of pandemic? I think one of the biggest lessons learned by business leaders is that it is always necessary to “ride the waves of crises” and not try to go against them.
From this surfing the waves we extract five business lessons that managed to adapt quickly to this uncertain scenario and used the crisis as an opportunity for growth.
1.Flexibility and adaptability to change
Much more than acting agile, it is necessary to be flexible and to be able to change all the time . The uncertainties caused by the pandemic made decision-making difficult and the unpredictability of the scenarios generated doubts, leaving institutional voids, in which businessmen and leaders struggled to act.
Being flexible and adapting for some companies is a total change of route, while for others it is presented as an incremental innovation or in the model of offering their products to the market, creating a different way of reaching the consumer.
Flexibility and adaptability must be aligned with the needs of consumers and the internal capacity to solve problems effectively and assertively. Being flexible and adaptable in an ineffective or unfocused way wastes resources, which are scarce in the pandemic .
2. Stay focused
The pandemic and the difficulty of reading scenarios caused many companies to lose focus. They tried to save themselves by creating maintenance processes to fill the market gaps left by other companies or governments. Even the infodemic of social networks brought magic formulas on how to start and become a millionaire in less than two weeks.
Consistent entrepreneurs and leaders know that, in the universe of entrepreneurship, even if exponential growth techniques are used, it is not sustainable without focus and without coherence in terms of supply.
Staying focused, even in times of change, protects the company from staying aligned with its strategy and focused on its business .
Confusing radical, incremental innovation in products, services, environments and business models to satisfy a new need in the market and in the company itself as a strategy is something that can compromise the medium and long term.
Innovation in most companies, even those that are just starting out, is a way to achieve strategic objectives, since they allow them to achieve a superior competitive advantage over their competitors.
Using innovation as a tactic to achieve strategy makes companies maintain their focus on the search to generate value for consumers and impact the ecosystem.
3. Manage your daily life and business with care
The constant changes of the pandemic showed us that a good part of the companies were either in a survival situation or did not know their real situation , given the difficulty in withstanding the crisis.
The crisis has shown us that we must act with caution about the results that companies are obtaining with their actions. When it comes to results, what is evident are financial results, cash flow, return on investment, billing.
One lesson that cannot be forgotten when the pandemic passes is that the economic results are obtained from the effective and assertive execution of the company’s tasks with its consumers, as well as from the improvement of the internal performance of the company.
Understanding that other results must be achieved prior to financial results is of utmost importance for those who are exercising leadership roles, as they can identify where the company is performing better or worse.
This allows for changes in the routes, in case something does not go well, or to promote actions and teams with high performance.
In times of crisis, daily management with teams is one of the best alternatives to make the best decisions, or to identify if the decisions taken were the right ones.
4. Go viral
The pandemic has shown us the ability to spread the coronavirus and its rapid spread throughout the world. One of the lessons we can learn is that SMEs need to go viral, have the ability to spread and communicate their positions of strength quickly and with high capillarity.
The communication capacity made it possible for entrepreneurs and leaders of SMEs to be closer to their consumers, observing the new needs generated by the pandemic, their new consumer behavior, while communicating with their partners in the search for joint problem solving, creating networks or exchanging good management practices during the pandemic period.
Being in all communication channels, such as social networks, was one of the alternatives to exhibit and create new ways of reaching old and new consumers, in the search for the generation of attention and a closer relationship, since the social isolation generated compulsory confinement.
5. Create networks
If working alone has always been a challenge and sometimes a mistake for SMEs, in the period of the pandemic the creation of networks was something of fundamental importance for small and medium-sized companies in Brazil.
Support networks, exchanges of good practices, virtual communities, networks for the creation of solidarity movements and especially the creation of networks for the creation of financial sustainability movements for companies.
Competitors had become partners in reducing purchasing costs, sharing supplies, serving customers and working with the ecosystem, seeking to contribute to improving the living conditions of people, communities and cities.
The digitization of everything facilitated the creation of social networks, since the geographical limits were reduced to video calls, bringing the world to the computer screen.
For some companies it is possible to be anywhere in the world in a less complex way than in the past.
I believe that one of the main lessons learned from this first year of the pandemic is that all of us (regardless of the type of institution, companies, governments, families, schools) have learned that it is necessary to take a closer look at the human being and nature, from a different way than we were used to.
If the new normal is still a long way off, it is necessary for all of us to have an entrepreneurial attitude to create an environment of transformation of human and commercial relationships, protecting ourselves and others.