Entrepreneurship can be a tough and long journey for most of us, but it surely is a fulfilling one. More often than not, it’s a journey of perseverance, self-discovery and it’s an open secret that no year has been as testing as 2020. The world was presented with a huge unforeseen problem with no apparent solution: an ever-changing pandemic forcing global business communities at large to pause in confusion, panic, and distress.
Leaders across disciplines have been pushed out of their comfort zones and have had to adapt to new market dynamics. Like many owners of self–funded businesses, I had built-in contingencies and agility for anticipated curveballs, and yet, I was not prepared for a radical market shift overnight. This pandemic has forced us as a community to unlearn and redo our business priorities and strategy to adapt to the new normal, probably for the first time in a very long time.
Here are some important lessons this daunting global pandemic has taught me as an entrepreneur :
When the lockdown was announced, we woke up to a sudden spike in customer order volumes which none of us could have predicted. It taught us that we must act fast and make decisions keeping customers at the forefront. Sometimes decisions are reversible and do not need overthinking especially when time is of essence.
We took calculated risks, optimized our available resources to meet the increased demand of customers, and delivered whatever possible, as timely as we could, despite the logistical challenges. I learned that every opportunity (even in adversity) comes with urgency. In a situation that calls for chaos, with an uncertain future, we must be able to find effective solutions quickly, even if temporary, to pivot and adjust to cater to the needs of our customers and the market.
Teamwork Drives Effectiveness
We truly understood the value of individual accountability and the importance of prioritizing and being productive in these rapidly changing times. We prioritized the safety of our employees, farmer partners, and customers, while looking at ways to support the significant surge in consumer demand. We realized that just like how we depend on our several local organic farmers they also depend on us for their livelihood. The only reason we could turn around quickly was that we chose to champion and support our employees and our farmer community rather than pressuring them.
Diversification Is Key
When our restaurant business took a hit, we had to reinvent and focus on different aspects of the business. As consumers opted for healthier options, we focused our efforts on the consumer home delivery business (B2C) in addition to our retail partnerships. Focus on cash flows and liquidity is equally if not more important than margins for survival.
Transparency & Effective Communication Go A Long Way
While we were lean staffed and not fully equipped to support the significant demand increase amidst the initial supply chain disruptions, we tried to focus on good communication within the team and we were very transparent with our customers. We had delayed response times, produce shortages, and late deliveries – therefore communication was key while setting expectations, building trust with customers, and uplifting the morale of our team members.
Catering To Consumer Need-Gap Is Pivotal
Every business must solve a need-gap that exists in the market. However, it’s critical to not only offer products or services that address the need-gap but also educate the consumers on the trends and unique proposition the business provides. The organic food space, for instance, is still a relatively new concept for us as a country and it’s our responsibility as a consumer brand to not just capitalize on a topical trend by plugging our products, but create a sustainable ecosystem that benefits them.
We establish transparency and trust with our consumers while helping them understand the benefits of an organic lifestyle which does come at a price premium compared to inorganic food. This pandemic reaffirmed our belief about creating a sustainable tomorrow and increasing our focus on well-being.
Every entrepreneur has an interesting journey filled with learnings. It is important to share, learn from each other, and contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem at large. Covid-19 may have rocked our world – but it’s something all of humanity is going through together. I’ve been so impressed and moved by the simple acts of kindness I’ve seen from friends, family, and even strangers on the Internet. When you focus on the good, the good gets better.