The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of dissipating any time soon. However, this crisis will pass.

"The more value you create today for your employees, customers, shareholders and stakeholders, the easier it will be to survive the pandemic and continue creating wealth tomorrow."

Almost every business, regardless of size, has had to make adjustments to cope with the new realities accompanying the pandemic. The near-universal pivot to remote work, government-mandated stay-at-home orders, and ongoing health concerns have created a business environment that looks dramatically different than it did just months ago. Yet this is exactly the type of environment in which resourceful entrepreneurs thrive.

Your creativity, willingness to embrace risk, and ability to spot opportunity where others cannot are what allowed you to start a business in the first place, and those same attributes will serve you well as you seek ways to adapt in the months and years ahead. Your business may be struggling now, but by relying on the traits and instincts that got you to this point, you can keep moving forward.

Here are five proven strategies you can deploy to continue to create value, even when your resources are stretched thin.

1. Refine your marketing strategy and increase your focus on digital tactics.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are more reliant than ever on modern technology. Even if you are not positioned to make substantial investments in new tools, you should constantly evaluate the digital strategies and technologies you already use, and now is the perfect time to do so in preparation for “the next normal.” Going through the pandemic, take this time to optimize what is working for you and explore new ideas.

Have a hard look at the platforms and tactics you are currently using and/or testing. If you are not consistently trying new marketing avenues, messaging, and design elements, you could again find yourself behind the competition during the "new normal". What works today might not work tomorrow, and it is vital to stay ahead of the curve in this crowded marketplace.

No one knows for sure what the world will look like in a post COVID-19 pandemic era. However, one thing is for sure: many interactions that used to take place in-person prior to the pandemic will continue to occur in a predominantly digital environment.

With that in mind, developing a robust online presence and digital infrastructure now will pay dividends in the future.

2. Launching new products or services

If there is a lesson that we learned from history, it is that in any given times of pandemics and financial crisis, it always has been the most agile companies that did survive and/or emerged as the big winners. In these times of COVID-19 pandemic, it will be no different.

Especially if your sales core offerings related are suffering during the pandemic, it is critical that you find new revenue streams. This is true for everyone: startups, small businesses and major organizations conglomerates and corporations. By taking a proactive approach to your product development and sales, you can stay top of mind among your customers and demonstrate the innovative qualities that modern consumers look for in leading brands.

This being said, said,do not abandon the products and/or services that have defined you up to this point.

3. Embracing corporate social responsibility

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, business and marketing leaders were already looking for ways to meet a growing demand among both consumers and investors for clearly defined corporate social responsibility initiatives.

However, embracing Corporate and Business Social Responsibility must be more than a marketing ploy. What consumers are now demanding,especially younger generations, is authenticity. By supporting COVID-19 reliefs efforts, whether on a local or global effort, you can talk the talk and walk the proverbial walk. Our research shows that  77% of consumers are more inclined to make purchases from businesses and companies committed to fighting social, economic, and environmental issues.

4. Orienting your business around your customers

Even if you are not selling products or closing deals at a pre-pandemic rate, there are still plenty of opportunities to create meaningful interactions with your customers. For starters, make sure to maintain open lines of communication and clearly articulate how your business is responding and adapting to the challenges posed by the coronavirus. Let your actual customers and prospective know what you are doing to keep employees safe and what you are doing differently now that things are, well, different.

Great customer service has always separated the best companies from competition. At a time when most leaders are inclined to turn their focus inward, great corporate leaders and business owners will make every effort to prioritize this aspect of their business and make everything possible to improve the customer experience that occurs at and away from the point of sale. Whether it is improving or developing a loyalty program, offering flexible payment options, or simply taking the time to reassure people that you have their best interests in mind, you can ensure your customers loyalty and therefore make sure that they will still be around after the crisis.

5. Rallying around your employees

Countless businesses and companies have been and are still forced to lay off staff, restrict hours, or make other hard personnel decisions in order to survive. Maybe this was and still is your case. If so, make every effort possible to ensure the people who have stuck with you during the crisis know you appreciate them.

There are plenty of ways to do it: Implement a backup childcare service to give employees access to family support resources that many desperately need; provide complimentary mental health services to staff members who suddenly find themselves overwhelmed amid unprecedented uncertainty... Regardless of how you do it, putting your employees first now can help foster a company culture that is strengthened by hardship, rather than one that wilts when the going gets tough.

One last word

If there is one lesson that we should retain of the actual crisis, it is this one:

Value creation entails more than fulfilling a market need; the more value you create today for your employees, customers, shareholders and stakeholders, the easier it will be to survive the pandemic and continue creating wealth tomorrow.

Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m

Systemic Strategic Planning / Crisis & Reputation Management

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