Normally we say goodbye in July and take a well-deserved holiday. But this year, nothing is really normal. Some fearless people will fly off on holidays without changing their plans and thus support the economy of other countries. Others will explore the beauty of their own country this summer and help the local economy. And all of us will be more aware than in previous years that we can enjoy leaving our own four walls and perhaps get a little closer to other people. It may well be a positive side effect of the pandemic that we now value freedom, closeness and contact even more.
Nevertheless, the decelerated time after the standstill can also be used to reflect and contemplate. The businesspeople among us will certainly think a lot about the last three to four months. Like the famous black swan, which was known to exist only after having seen it, COVID19 appeared practically out of thin air.
After the first shock phase many business owners and self-employed people thought about what they could do in the given situation. A very impressive number switched production relatively quickly to products that were suddenly in high demand. Now regular production is starting up again. So what do you do with the products you have produced in the meantime? Simply stop production and return to the previous product range?
Let’s look at a specific case: a manufacturer of exhaust systems who switched to the production of ventilators. The supply markets could not be more different: the automotive industry and the hospital industry. But if we look at the technology behind them, both products are about moving air from one place to another and changing the quality in the process (the engineers among you will forgive this oversimplification).
When defining a company’s strategy and vision, it is always about describing what the company does exactly. I once had a visionary manager who motivated his people to think bigger and broader by saying: If your market share is over 20 percent, you have incorrectly defined the market. So if we look at the exhaust system manufacturer: Is he at home in the market for exhaust systems for the automotive industry, or in the market for systems that move air and improve its quality? If you decide on the latter, many additional sales markets suddenly come into play: exhaust air systems for sewage treatment plants or for agricultural businesses. Systems for the home of asthmatics and allergy sufferers. This is where experts will certainly think of a whole host of other possible products.
Especially now that our economy has come to its knees, it would make sense to expand the range on offer to spread the risk. Because the pandemic has also shown that only in the rarest cases do all markets go into an economic slump at the same time and with the same ferocity.
Of course, this has consequences for a company if new business areas are suddenly created. The business model has to be rethought, the value chain and the skills of the employees have to be put to the test. In addition, new partnerships and sales markets are established, which are useful for the different offers.
The principle we are talking about here is a reverse strategy process. Instead of deciding at the beginning in which market you want to offer what, you now have an additional offer and ask yourself: How do I have to define the market so that all my offers fit in optimally?
Sounds complicated? But it isn’t. I will gladly help you with these considerations! I have also held an online-seminar on this topic (in German only). If you are looking for support in this process: I am at your disposal!