Business partners for a new normal

Posted 20th May 2020
By Vida Barr-Jones

I’ve almost given up on watching the news, discussing politics and reading articles on how the impact of the pandemic will deliver a devastating recession. Yep, tick, got that! I know nothing will be the same, I know I wasn’t ready personally or professionally to be plunged into this crisis and like so many others, my way of life and business have taken a hit. 

I also know we are going through the biggest shift in habits society has ever seen because of the offline to online experience. A large proportion of the population has become dependent on e-commerce. The top online commodities have shifted from fashion items, travel and tech items to toilet roll, board games, bakeware and yeast!

Entire supply chains have been forced to change the way they do business…

Fundamentally, economies operate on the relationship between supply, demand and finance. The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has resulted in simultaneous shocks to all three components, causing disruptions to global supply chains, a sharp decline in consumption and significant practical barriers to conducting business across manufacturing and service sectors”

Chris Urwin, Aviva.

To survive the next 12-18 months of recession, businesses have got to consider how they can pivot what they offer. It starts with simply the will to take a change in direction, leveraging your brand to support people, getting creative in the way you communicate and finding the right partners who can help you innovate your supply chain and shift your industry.

One piece of advice for avoiding the virus and coping with self-isolation and social distancing is ‘don’t behave like you don’t want it, behave like you have it and don’t want to give it to anyone else!’.  Equally, with the current economic challenges, the advice I was given by Darren Shirlaw – Economic Commentator from Business of Brand was, “shift the time zone, make decisions today as if it’s the end of the recession, and get to the way you want your business to look at the end”.

Revisit your Brand purpose

Brand means finding the heart of your business and making it beat faster. Brand means celebrating what makes you better than the rest. Brand means your personal brand as well as your company brand #BrandMEANSBusiness. Find new and creative waysto share the values of your brand and to deliver relevant, engaging and helpful communications.  Be innovative, be creative, be reachable, be human.

Build effective and fulfilling business partnerships

It’s so important to build effective and fulfilling partnerships with Individuals, influencers and businesses who can help innovate your supply chain.  Brainstorm what that looks like and then approach your partners with a plan. You need people who can achieve a collaboration of  effective ideas, personalities, end to end solutions and cost efficiencies. You need to know what you all bring to the table and what you want out of a partnership. 

Evaluate your current market

What shape is it in and can it survive in its current format? Who is your new audience? How have their habits changed? What will they want from you? What new problem do you solve for them? Are you still relevant and are your business offerings still suitable for their needs? If you find it hard to do this on your own, then get help, attend a workshop with a strategic and creative partner.

Pivot your business

Pivot your business to trade in a new online e-commerce economy – think about supply and demand, new suppliers, new routes to market, new customers. Shift to online, optimise your online collateral such as your website, email or PPC campaigns and share your knowledge. Review your social assets such as video, webinars, blogs, education and learning products. Look at digital integration and automation.

Know your numbers

Challenge yourselves here, build your infrastructure for growth out of recession, identify the gaps and plan accordingly – if you have not lived through a recession commercially before, get help with this, I am, work with partners who can help you develop a strategy for success.


Embark on a variety of activities across multiple channels telling your story. Play to your strengths to attract your ideal customers and influencers and be committed to shifting how you keep your community engaged. Produce a strong communication strategy and be consistent.

Any self-employed entrepreneur, company or corporation in the position of looking to provide products or services to anyone else is facing the same problem … everyone wants to buy, but no one wants to be sold to. Communities still feel vulnerable about the unknown of the pandemic and economic recession and might, therefore, be prudent and cautious in their spending, so trading will remain a challenge.  We need to spend our time planning and innovating now to be ready for the end of the recession.  You need to have a business that has a voice and can be seen and heard, so be creative and start working on that now!

The most agile companies react quickly to change and make bold decisions.  The new normal is going to be a fusion of online and offline with more businesses looking for a strengthened digital infrastructure and more digital events.  If you are struggling with the right head space to make the step changes you need then work with a brand led growth partner who can help you make the changes.

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