• Andrew Grimshaw

Is there really going to be a new normal? Or is this a time of opportunity for your business?

Will there really be a ‘new normal’? What does ‘new normal’ even mean?

‘Revenge spend’ hit China, Hermes in Beijing saw more money spent in one day than ever before in any boutique in China. Alcohol purchases surged in lockdown.

Retail sales plummeted. Kate Ancketill, Founder of GDR Creative Intelligence says, thirty-five percent of 18-24-year old’s in the UK have said they intend to buy fewer clothes after lockdown. 

Many businesses moved quickly to meet some unpredictable shifts of customer needs and employees. From wine tasting, team meetings, networking events to personalised gym workouts, all pivoting online.

The pandemic and the global lockdown have driven people to re-evaluate what is important to them, how they live, how they spend their time and who with, how they interact and spend their money. 

What does that mean for businesses?

Consumer sentiment and behaviour is anything but ‘normal’. This is an exciting time for businesses to think differently and those that are built to flex rapidly will capitalise. 

Seth Godin is a serial entrepreneur and author. In his popular book, ‘Purple Cow – Transform your business by being remarkable’. Godin refers to the execution of a great product as ‘the purple cow’. He says, “Safe is boring, when businesses find their sacred cow, they draw the profits yet fail to re- invest in new ideas. Instead, they build an empire around it whilst failing to take another risk, businesses like Yahoo!, Motorola, Mariott and Nokia. Fewer and fewer businesses work to create a ‘purple cow’ yet the marketplace is getting faster and more fluid so the rewards for being remarkable increase.” 

Start-up founders are however, known for their relentless pursuit to make something better and they anchor this in the organisation’s mission. One that excites their employees so much that discretionary effort will flourish.

The result: businesses create offerings that provide their target market with FOMO!

Netflix does this very well with their box set offerings. The BBC confirmed recently that Netflix grew their customer base by 16 million during lockdown. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Great businesses instil a culture of ideation and psychological safety where it is OK to fail. It’s this way of working that should become ‘the new normal’. You will not win by standing still. 

Sir Ken Robinson, a British author delivered a brilliant Ted Talk on Creativity. In it, he described the unpredictability of the future as extraordinary and said, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original, we run our businesses like this, we stigmatise mistakes.” 

Does your business allow and encourage the creativity of your people and their ideas, or do you play it safe?

How can you make your product offerings simplistic? Is now a great time to remove the silos and internal obstacles that slow this down? 

In practice

In my view, businesses that do not just survive but go on to thrive in this new normal will be those that pursue a culture of entrepreneurial creativity.

I strongly believe that the best leaders not just encourage this but are the ones that reward employees that demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking, no matter how discreetly they show it. 

I will leave you with a story that I hope will be inspiring. A Chinese college student would regularly take a ten-hour train ride to visit his girlfriend. He would spend the journey imagining ways that would enable him to interact with her. In 2012, he founded a company to solve this problem. Little did he know how many businesses he would save during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Financial Times, his company is now forecast to double its full-year revenue to $1.8bn. His name is Eric Yuan and he is the founder of a company called ZOOM. 

Do you encourage your employees to think? 

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