Serial Entrepreneur |Blockchain 4 Social Impact |Sharing/Subscription Economy Researcher|
We are halfway through 2020. Self-evident truth makes it crystal clear that there is too much to swallow and digest to make sense of everything that is happening in our new reality. It is also important to mention that there is no doubt that the world will remember this year just like they remember 2012 when everyone was expecting the end of the world. But what happens after COVID-19? The Economist has its perspective:
The history of human civilization has witnessed thousands of revolutions, natural disasters, technological developments, and fluctuations. Chances are high that this tendency will continue despite our wishes, plans, or expectations.
COVID-19's legacy in the world is going to remain and remind us about new realities. The crisis surely provides a sudden glimpse into a future world, one in which digital has become central to every interaction, pushing entities further up the adoption curve almost overnight. For others, it is a glimpse of a disaster for not having required skillsets, resources to adopt new platforms, and most importantly, and an ability to understand the value of the digital transaction.
Practicing as an entrepreneur during the COVID-19 era, as in my case, it has taught me several lessons. It has forced me, my team, and my partners to reimagine and rethink new frontiers of business management, startup kick-offs, and remote work lifestyles. With hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, there is no doubt this pandemic will be a defining moment for everyone.
While some businesses struggled and others thrived, once all of this chaos is over and we can resume our regular lives, entrepreneurs should obtain some valuable lessons from these challenging times. The following are 10 lessons I have learned during the crisis that I hope will help to ignite some ideas and engage in further conversation.
1. The approaching Death of an offline business
Watching rise and fall of Richard Branson's empire was indeed jaw-dropping and eyebrow-raising. I kept telling myself, “You have got to be kidding me.”
A heavyweight embodiment of entrepreneurship with spectacular experience and charisma to request a bailout from the British government to save his business, despite his diverse portfolio of businesses, one after the other most of his offline ventures suffered major blows.
That was just the beginning.
WeWork's rise and fall, and overall work ethic as we know today, will change forever with new regulations, social distancing, and checkpoints for visitors, vendors, and clients. This new reality will apply for other real estate venue providers that will meet the same fate in the face of the pandemic.
Some of the greatest success stories is Airbnb, which was anticipating an IPO while also suffering a major blow despite promising growth and an agile team. WeWork, Airbnb, and Virgin are not alone. Big brothers like Disney, Delta, and Marriott are among others. The complete list can be seen in the following infographics.
Some of the industries and numbers that were affected by COVID-19 in the US alone is pretty scary, not to mention less developed countries that are already experiencing dire consequences that will likely last through the end of 2020.
The number of people that were laid off around the world has been tremendous. According to the International Labour Organization, more than six percent of the global workforce is working less hours, with the APAC region leading with 125M people followed by 24M in the Americas and 19M in Africa.
Just like the concept of the glass being half full or half empty, during any kind of crisis one can be part of a solution or the problem.
Since the inception of the outbreak entrepreneurs and various industry professionals took the lead to explore and witness cracks in the system. One of the most outstanding platforms that collects COVID-related innovations and know-how was developed by Reinier Evers and his team.
Other areas, such as digital payments, digital collaboration tools, entertainment, delivery services (food, grocery, anything), productivity applications, streaming, and e-Commerce are destined to grow. To get a sense of the top 10 fastest growing e-Commerce items delivered, see the following chart by visual capitalist
ntrigued to learn more? Check out this article 12 Industry Channels Expected to Thrive Post-COVID-19
COVID-19 put the healthcare industry to the test. All technological and digital advancements that have been achieved prior to COVID-19 invasion seemed to be cutting edge. I bet, if Theranos was around, its value would be priceless.
However, in the face of the pandemic, even well-developed European countries like Spain and Italy suffered massive blows. Furthermore, the rising number of casualties in North and South America is simply scary, being deeply dependent on ventilators. The lack of vital and accessible testing kits is simply resulting in the death of more people.
As a result, public and private medical professionals are working tirelessly to develop a vaccine to cease the spread of the coronavirus. Healthcare undoubtedly will become a priority for VC funds, investors and state-owned foundations to fund more research and experimentation to improve the cracks in the system as soon as possible.
Cracks in the system are great opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to team up with medical professionals to develop solutions that will manage the virus and improve the livelihood of millions. The role of technology in navigating opportunities is going to be very essential.
In 2014 when I visited China for the first time, the first thing that caught my attention was the number of people for whom wearing a mask was a social norm. At the time, I was not well informed about pollution or the great number of factories, or had the slightest idea about climate change. In fact, I became more aware of climate change and its effects while in China.
What happens after COIVD-19 is defeated? What will happen with those who were laid off and those who had to close their businesses (for example, F&B, gyms, movie theatres, nightlife entertainment, and others)? What about those who have to pay back their loans or pushed to mortgage their property to remain afloat? And those who work internationally or conduct meetings across multiple time zones. The list is long. Mental health basically becomes another form of a pandemic to help victims to get back to normal lifestyles.
Canada-based Angus Reid Institute conducted research about the consequences of COVID-19 in regards to mental health. The key findings in one of the well-developed countries of the world are worrisome:
At least one-in-five residents in each region of the country fall into the Hardest Hit category. Alberta has the highest number (32%) and Quebec the lowest (20%).
One-quarter (24%) of the Hardest Hit say that their relationships at home have suffered since the COVID-19 outbreak began, compared to just six percent of those in the Managing Well group.
Regardless of where they place on the COVID-19 Impact Index, three-quarters of Canadians in each group agree that it is too soon to begin lifting restrictions on businesses and public gatherings in their province
To imagine a mental state in other countries is a tough and scary challenge. All I can do is imagine the influx of patients and victims of the post-COVID era. As someone who experienced mental health-related challenges I shared my story in my previous piece How 10 Days of Solitude Resulted in Doubling My Productivity that still helps me to tackle the magnitude of this pandemic. I shared my story and journey to explore the importance of mental health and a solution that still works for me today, however, the solution that works for me may not be applicable to others universally.
During COVID-19, mental health has already become as vital as ventilators. It is one of the industries that will become a top priority for professionals to team up with to develop solutions for those who have suffered.
For nearly three months now, working from home has become the new norm. It’s not just a fad—in fact, 99% of the 2,500 remote workers surveyed said they wanted to work remotely for the rest of their career.
Remote work revolution is inevitable, just like I shared in my previous article about the man who built a billion-dollar company by hiring 700 employees remotely redefined the history of productivity and according to CB Insights, there are over 65 startups enabling remote work to maximize our productivity, chances are very high the number of startups will evolve to take advantage of changing environment
If interested in accessing a complete report, click here
The beauty of Blockchain provides multi-party transparency, paper-free interactions, and industry-wide process automation.
Data management - Data collection can be automated as it stores data in the ledger (for example, patients’ symptoms, treatments, and progress is kept on a single platform, which will help the doctors and experts to diagnose, treat, and research collaboratively as VS work separately and independently). This protects the data against unauthorized access, hence, maintaining privacy.
Supply chain management - I remember seeing toilet paper becoming the Holy Grail in Germany, Spain, and Italy. I would never have imagined that the race to purchase toilet paper would remind of a world war of some kind. The cracks in supply chain management and the lack of trustworthy information during pandemic were obvious.
Blockchain for supply chain can solve the problem just like with data management. Digital ledger technology can keep a record of all real-time transactions happening in the system. A complete record of product history, tracking details, and shared history can be accessed by manufacturers and users to check the originality of the product. IBM, for example, has started incorporating Blockchain in its supply chain management systems.
The number of cases is going to increase. In the future, I`ll share a detailed article dedicated to Blockchain, Social Impact, and COIVD challenges.
8. The subscription economy
From manufacturing to relationship economy, therefore, the subscription economy says the Founder of Zuora in his iconic pitch deck.
Businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs are constantly looking for new ways to optimize their business models, and the subscription business model is consuming the world. Let’s face it, the average person connected online probably subscribes at least for five services.
I personally pay for Spotify, LinkedIn, Online Storage, Grammarly, Netflix, Upwork, Skillshare, and scores of other services to remain as competitive as possible in the market.
This is just a start, the numbers are growing and not just overall. Even if your business isn’t using a subscription model, your competitors likely are or are planning to. My team and I are thinking how we could potentially use the subscription business model to bring more value to our new businesses.
It is so simple and affordable, and so addictive that the business model tricks millions of people to move from owning the product to simply using it upon demand.
According to Digitalist Magazine:
By 2022, 53% of all software revenue will be generated from a subscription model
Everything you purchase — from transportation to entertainment to groceries — will soon come with a monthly plan. Regardless of your business, location, industry, and target audience, consumers will keep exploring opportunities to minimize their expenses and look for alternative service providers that offer more benefits and features for the same or less (subscription) fee. And guess what? Your clients will be someone else`s with a single click.
9. Plan your work and brace for contingency
COVID-19’s merciless invasion made it crystal clear that we can have 5 to10-year business plans, expectations, arrangements, and agreements, however, it can change in a matter of days or weeks. And it did in the case of COVID-19.
Ironically, here I am becoming less analytical and more philosophical -- in every crisis, there is an opportunity. I remember reading how Fanta succeeded in selling its beverages in Nazi Germany.
Gabriel Marquez Garcia gave up everything spending almost two years writing his book “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” the novel that made him famous. He sold everything he had i his house and borrowed food to survive, the book was published in 1967 and is believed to have sold more than 30 million copies. It helped him win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature
Bitcoin`s iconic white paper and its mysterious author S. Nakomoto released its work after 2008's world's financial crisis, transforming future, entirely, and unknowingly.
Examples are endless, more innovations, more technological advancements, more competition, will only propel disruption further, and keeping an eye on the big picture while working on the plan is a strategy that helps me personally navigate.
10. The future is now
The last item of this article is not a new reality, but a self-fulfilling prophecy that can be decoded based on our experience and understanding of the world.
What has become very clear to me is that in the 21st century with the power of the internet, great teams, and the right timing, anything can be done. One's location, knowledge, ethnic belonging, or social status does not matter. That`s the wonder and influence of technology and digital capabilities. And it is only going to get better, faster, and more advanced.
In 2015, Bill Gross shared a seven-minute story showcasing the single biggest reason why start-ups succeed. It was indeed an eye-opening talk that is the embodiment of how the future is now:
The startup ecosystem is changing quickly and drastically. For a bigger and deeper picture, Global Startup Ecosystem is the best source to make use of. The team published some awesome reports. Click here to access the report for 2020.
To understand the technology and the digital landscape, I enjoy reading reports by Statista. Click here to access a free report for 2020.
If you happen to experience difficulties accessing it, leave a comment below and I'll gladly forward you a copy for 2020 and 2019. Both have helped me in my strategic thinking.
I hope all of the resources I’ve included will serve some of your needs and enlighten you in some way. I was so inspired to share that I wrote this piece in 10 hours and in a single sitting.
You are welcome to share comments, feedback, and ideas. I’d be glad to engage in further discussions with others as passionate about these topics as I am.