Covid-19 National Lockdown: An opportunity for personal and business growth
On Monday, 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown of 21 days in an effort to combat the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa. "This is a decisive measure to save lives of South Africans from infections and to save lives of hundreds of thousands of our people," the President explained.
As a result, all shops and businesses had to close, with the exception of essential service providers, and now presumably face 21 days without sales and income. While some employees are able to continue their duties remotely, others are also brought to a 21 day halt due to the nature of their work. Overall the majority of business operations across the country will come to a complete stop and consequently face a challenging time ahead.
It is however important to remember what this lockdown is about: the lives of people and the health of the nation. “While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater,” – Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized.
As business owners, employees and a nation, we are now faced with two choices while fulfilling our duty as fellow citizens. We can choose to sit and dwell on our fears, stress and the challenging times that lie ahead. Or we can use this “downtime” to innovate, improve, invent and grow.
Some of the most successful brands in the world, such as Microsoft, CNN, Apple, Burger King, Disney, IBM etc., were found during economic recessions. What’s their secret? The Entrepreneurs behind the brands who decided to work tirelessly on finding solutions to customers’ needs and bringing hope to an audience when they needed it the most. By, instead of giving up and accepting defeat in hard time, choosing to innovate, improve, invent and grow.
It is therefore, now more than ever, critical that businesses and people choose to spend their National Lockdown days wisely and use it as an opportunity for growth.
“Where you are a year from now is a reflection of the choices you choose to make right now”.
With the excuse of time, stress and tiredness being moved aside, now is the best time to start with self-growth. Instead of stagnating, why not use this opportunity to become a better, healthier, more skilled version of yourself? Not only is it a productive way of filling your time, but also a pivotal step in ensuring well-being and success in your future.
Learn a new skill, or improve your current skill-set
The digital world offers endless opportunities in learning new skills or improving your current skill-set. A lot of these informative tutorials, classes and courses are also available at no cost to the viewer. It is therefore a great opportunity to explore new skills that you are able to apply to your current job, or that can assist in that strategic dream career move you’ve been wanting to make.
Youtube has endless tutorials and classes on various subjects that you are able to search for. Another, more formal approach is online courses from Google’s Learn Digital platform. Here you can discover a range of free learning content designed to help grow your business or jumpstart your career. You can learn by selecting individual modules, or dive right in and take an entire course end-to-end. Their courses are free, and some of the courses come with a certification once completed successfully.
Improve your health and well-being
For some, exercise might seem like something that you don’t have time or money for. But now, being in lockdown, with restricted movement, it is a great way to find innovative ways of moving at home. It will help you to stay sane, but can also provide a unique way of exercising in future, especially if you have limited time and budget. Work out a short routine you are able to do at home, and set time aside each day to do it.
Youtube again is a great platform to find exercising videos that will fit your time frame, type of fitness and level of fitness. Search for bootcamp, dance, yoga, spin or stretch videos – whatever gets your blood flowing, and get in the habit of doing them daily. This will kick-start your fitness and help you to continue once the National Lockdown has been lifted.
You can also use this opportunity to learn new techniques in coping with daily work and life stress. Read more about healthy ways of stress management here.
Build your personal relationships
In modern day our lives are constantly on the move with work, entertainment and technology filling our days. As a result, our personal relationships with our family members tend to take the backseat. The National Lockdown now forces us to stay in our homes with our families with an excess of time on our hands. It is therefore a golden opportunity to rekindle our relationships with our spouse, children and other family members. Use it to spend quality time with each other and learn to truly talk to one another again.
Growing as a Business
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails” – John Maxwell.
During the current difficult lockdown period, and the challenging times that lie ahead, it is not necessarily the strongest companies that will survive, but those that are able to adapt and innovate. How you as a leader, and your team, spend your time during the lockdown will directly impact the ongoing success of your business. It is therefore fundamental that you adjust your sails to ensure that you keep moving forward.
Identify new revenue streams, or new ways of operating
The close of your physical store, showroom or offices does not necessarily have to bring your business as a whole to a complete stop. A lot of businesses are using the benefits of digital to their advantage during this time. For some service providers such as Graphic Designers, Accountants etc., it is easier to keep their daily operations going through the use of software, internet, email, Skype and conference calls. The only change necessary is your way of operating and finding ways in doing so remotely.
But others will have to adapt and innovate more creatively.
Hairdressers can offer online “how-to” tutorials/classes in creating different hairstyles for work, school, dates etc. or teaching customers new skills in curling, braiding or straightening their hair. These classes can be done through the Zoom platform that works on a conference call basis and allows a 2-way interaction. The app also asks for a meeting code and password in order to join each call, which you send to your customers. You can therefore ask a month subscription fee, or a drop-in class fee, and give your customers the specific code(s) once you receive their payments.
The same concept can be used for other businesses: dance teachers can continue teaching through Zoom and even create fun dance classes for adults during the lockdown. They are therefore able to reach an even broader customer base. Events companies can offer classes in events management
and Interior designers in home design. Either way, you are an expert in your field, so while you are not able to practice in that field currently, why not teach it? Not only is it a great way in further promoting your brand, but it might even add a future additional revenue stream to your business.
Brainstorm with your staff
Your employees are involved at all the different contact points of your business. Your team as a whole therefore know all the ”ins and the outs” of your business, as well as some of the difficulties either they or your customers face. Consequently brainstorming with them on ways to improve your product, service or operations can prove to be extremely beneficial to you as a business. You currently have time to go back to the drawing board and discover new gaps to fill or old gaps to further improve in fulfilling. You can also start to plan for times of crisis like these to ensure that you are better prepared next time. Either way, get your team involved to find the best possible solutions.
Learn to value your employees
One of the biggest lessons employers will learn during the National Lockdown is the important role that each of their employees and operations play in the success of their business. No matter how big or small. You are only as good as your team and it is therefore critical that you start to value them, motivate them and help them grow with you. Successful Entrepreneur Richard Branson already learnt this lesson early on, stating: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.
Building a skilled, ambitious and good team of employees is imperative to the success of your business, but valuing and looking after your team will be the ultimate factor in the prospering of your brand. The Virgin Brand powerhouse is a testament to that.
Ultimately, the National Lockdown can provide opportunities for personal and business growth, depending on how you spend your time. Remember: success takes time to build. Don’t wait. Start today.