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How to Find Inspiration During the Post-Quarantine Burnout

burnout

I remember finding myself completely collapsed after another missed deadline right before my favorite day of the year — my birthday. In October last year, I worked as a content writer at Lemon.io (and I still do). Aside from that, I was picking up some freelance projects from time to time. Also, I was attending different marketing and business conferences to keep my mind sharp and to keep up to date on new marketing trends. I know, it is totally unfair that project deadlines and awesome events are always happening simultaneously.

Pfew, it was a busy month. At first, I took great pride in my productivity, marveling at how much I could squeeze into 24 hours. But after a few weeks of running on less than 4 hours of sleep and working 12 hour days, I fell, quite suddenly and spectacularly, into a procrastination loop.

To my horror and my employer’s consternation, I realized I couldn’t do anything. I would create a new Word Document then proceed to stare at that white screen for hours, quite unable to get past the article’s title.

For a few days, I repeated the same cycle: waking up, opening the laptop, closing the laptop, feeling bad about myself, opening the laptop, closing the laptop, feeling sorry for myself, and so on ad infinitum. That’s when I realized — it was burnout.

Given all that’s happening worldwide right now with the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine, I bet many people felt the same as me a year ago. It certainly isn’t easy to switch to a work-from-home routine, let alone worry about your health.

Perhaps in telling my story of escaping and overcoming burnout, you can find some tips to help you during the coronavirus quarantine times.

How to get out of the burnout?

To answer the question above, I decided to look for the answers in books. I’ve read Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit’ and Hal Elrod’s ‘The Miracle Morning.’

Yes, I know, many of you might think that reading such literature is a waste of time. But for me, it was quite useful. Of course, the ‘miracle’ didn’t happen after I finished the books, but they showed me a way out of the burnout.

Improve your daily agenda

‘The Miracle Morning’ suggests a few important things, which worked for me perfectly:

  • Wake up together with the rise of the sun (or at least earlier than you are used to);
  • Spend at least 10 minutes for yourself in the mornings.

I decided not to try all the author’s tips (not like I think they are unhelpful), but rather to create my morning routine. (30 minutes every morning for breakfast while blasting my favorite music, then practice my yoga).

I’d suggest designing your own routine, but be sure to include:

  • good 8-hour sleep
  • regular workouts
  • time spent with family and/or friends
  • hobbies
  • education or self-improvement
  • taking time off and unwinding

The most important thing which ‘The Power of Habit’ taught me was — never try to change all your habits at once. Do it step by step, implementing changes slowly and gradually. Try different things for 10-15 minutes per day, search for other tips, experiment and enjoy it.

Learn how to deal with negative feedback

As negative feedback is the most significant source of self-deprecating thoughts, you have to manage it. Working with different clients all the time has taught me one thing — you can’t satisfy everyone. There will always be that person who will leave a one-star review with a comment, “This company sucks!”

Even if part of you says, “C’mon, you did a great job. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” another part is always hesitating, “What if he’s right? What if my job truly sucks?”

Well, this mindset isn’t helpful. Negative feedback should encourage you to improve but not to spread self-destroying thoughts. My strategy of dealing with it is easy and consists of a few essential points:

  1. If you are as sensitive to critics as I am, you should better focus on positive references for the work done instead of concentrating on negative ones. Give yourself a high five every time you hear something nice about your job. Good words are always a great motivation boost.
  2. Don’t take negative feedback too personally. Always remember it’s only offered to improve your performance, not to offend your personality. If vice versa, maybe you are working with the wrong people.
  3. Think of negative feedback as another source of knowledge necessary for professional growth. It is impossible to progress without working on your weak spots. Don’t get obsessed with occasional little mistakes. But in case you see a pattern, that’s when you have to take negative feedback seriously.

Reconsider your work strategy

Unfortunately, bad reviews are not the only source of anxiety at work. If your job is not valued and fairly paid, if your brain thinks about work 24/7, if you feel too much pressure on your shoulders and don’t have support, any bad word might be the last straw.

Here are some simple rules to avoid this:

Respect your time and never work for free

Very often, people who work for a startup tend to undervalue themselves, their skills, and their time. If you don’t have years of experience working for a big corporation, you are ready to do anything to impress the colleagues: to work all night on the article, to give up on your favorite hobby, to work extra hours without being paid for it.

Honestly, I was exactly the same. But the truth is that at some point, you will lose motivation to go the extra mile if nobody values it. That’s when the burnout knocks on the door. Don’t let this happen to you.

Avoid overloading yourself by setting priorities.

If you see that your workload is growing faster than you can handle it, maybe you should give up some of them or hire an assistant. You can’t do all the work by yourself, even if you think you can do it better than anyone else.

To help your future self, you should only be working on the highest priority tasks, leaving all others for later.

Optimize the working process

After prioritizing your tasks, you’re ready for the next step – doing the actual work. Easier said than done. Distractions are everywhere. One notification from Facebook, and you are back in the infinity pool.

To help yourself, turn off all the social media notifications and download Pomodoro browser extensions. This program will help you to track your working time according to the 25 to 5 work-rest cycle.

Find out what you want from your job.

Be honest with yourself and your colleagues. If you are unsatisfied with your work conditions, salary, job duties, you should talk it out.

Worst case scenario, you will find another job which will match your desires perfectly. What’s the point of wasting your time on something you don’t enjoy doing?

Have a break from work

No matter how important you are to your company, you need to have some rest. The longer, the better. If you can’t manage a proper extended vacation, take at least a couple of days off.

The one thing which helps me the most is going on a short trip. It can be anywhere you want a visit to your family, a hike through the woods, or a bike ride to the neighboring city.

A change of scenery will do you a world of good. Amidst new surroundings, your brain will hit the refresh button, and you will come back to work charged up and completely reinvigorated.

Get out of the procrastination cycle.

You have to accept the fact that nobody but you can break the loop. If you think that your boss, your partner, or your therapist can do it for you, you’re dead wrong. The sooner you realize this, the faster you’ll escape:

  1. Get rid of a toxic you-can-do-better attitude and respect yourself.
  2. Analyze what and then address the causes of the burnout.
  3. Define the things your job lacks and search for the ways to get them.
  4. Set up your priorities and follow them.
  5. Consider hiring some extra help (here are some advice about hiring freelancers (lemon.io/best-freelance-websites), independent contractors, and extra tips on how to outsource in general).
  6. Have a nice vacation!

Make sure this never happens to you again!

While working on this article, which I was supposed to finish more than a week ago, I was reminded how easily one can fall back into the procrastination cycle. But this time, I knew how to deal with it right at the beginning, not letting the problem get any worse.

If you face the same issue, I can assure you that the recipe above works. If it helped me (more than once!), it’s definitely going to help you too. The main thing is to start slowly, taking baby steps. Take care of yourself!

The post How to Find Inspiration During the Post-Quarantine Burnout appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Entrepreneurs How To ReadWrite Startups tips

Behind the Scenes: Insight into Large Scale Organizations to Apply to Small Businesses

apply to small business

During the past two decades, I quietly sat at the back behind the scenes, learning from large organizations, watching, listening, and trying to understand the nuts and bolts of how they became so successful. Here is an insight into large scale organizations to apply to small businesses.

You have to listen.

Listening to the voices of the unheard when no one else could or would actually hear them, I watched as some people succeeded and others did not.

No matter how some companies worked and tried to communicate — some companies became triumphant, and others were bought out with half the employees, then made redundant.

Finding the most essential part of any business.

What’s the most crucial part of any business? You may have the smartest minds in the business, with consultants lining the corridors. There may be many, many amounts of resources with an SOP for everything from visitors entering the building to how to use a printer.

None of these resources and persons matter unless you have everyone singing from the same piece of music — connected — believing something they all believe in.

What keeps your team engaged in your company?

I have seen employees become so disengaged from what is happening in their company that they become uninterested and bored, ultimately causing a loss of revenue from sick leave or general poor performance.

I have seen companies have the best directors and general managers, but senior and middle management let everything fall to the ground. What is strange is that these incidences are mostly unnoticed by upper management.

The main reason these companies fail is a lack of communication, or their key messages are getting lost in dialogue over semantics.

Lack of communication is especially true in these uncertain times.  Teams can evaporate due to competition, changes in structure, targets, sales, and the lack of communication about these issues. Some teams keep trying to fix something that is not broken.

Pressure and stress from ensuring targets are met and innovations are created.

Everyone wants to be the best of the best and have the largest market share because they have the best technologies and creations. They want to be the ‘go-to’ company for what they’re selling. They are right, of course.

The thought process is exactly right. Except they lose themselves and their employees while they are clamoring for the top spot. However, we didn’t need COVID to learn these lessons. I have learned these same lessons from my two decades of work in tech.

Lesson 1: Keep it Simple

The larger the company, the more money that leaks through the cracks. Large enterprises often have too many cooks.

My advice:

Keep processes and protocols as simple as possible.

Keep management teams small. Communicate with your employees and gain trust. Not for the sake of it, but to develop a true connection.

Delegate where possible, and do not be afraid to outsource if you do not have the skills in house. Don’t leave your company in the hands of someone who may NOT be capable.

Pay for expertise. Alternatively, teach those who might benefit from new skills, and you will have someone with that skill the next time you need it — in house.

Lesson 2: Invest, but do it wisely.

The worst decision you can make is refusing to spend money on a project, even when your business needs it.

My advice:

Always remember, it can be expensive to buy cheap! Don’t be afraid to invest…. but do it wisely and on good advice. 

Engage in lean processing to cut down on costs and maximize profit where possible. Recognize the value of profitability and road map the process of improvements and growth in this area.

Spend on digital marketing tools and techniques to increase the customer base and brand awareness and reputation to demonstrate reliability and the strength of a local business.

Spend on engagement and networking to ensure strong relationships are encouraged and developed to promote your business.

The amount of money I have seen wasted on events, campaigns, sponsorship, or unnecessary positions is nuts!! Yes, I know some of those spends are controversial, mainly because this is the way the world works — but it is simply not sustainable.

While the sentiment behind such events, especially team-building exercises, is somewhat understandable — I don’t know one person I’ve interviewed who wouldn’t prefer the money to be handed to them directly. But a quick get together for lunch works almost as well.

Lesson 3: Employees

The most essential part of any building is its foundation. What it’s built on and the materials they are made from. Your business is something you’ve worked long and hard to create. You may have started it from the ground up.

My advice:

Make sure that what you put inside your business represents a long-term outlook and strategy. Understand that your long-term strategy doesn’t just mean product.

I have seen many managers make the mistake of choosing the person with the most extended list of qualifications. Some businesses want to make sure they have a necessary degree and the exact skills to meet with the job spec.

Yes, everyone may require a degree at some point or another. But they also need experience. Often you don’t get one without the other, so it’s a chicken or the egg scenario.

I could go on at length here about how to choose the right people. However, your very gut instinct will never lead you wrong. Think, run through the people, and go with your first instinct. That is your gut.

With employees — make sure you ‘click.’ Make sure they are hungry for the job. Not cocky, not overly clever with their words. Don’t be afraid to choose the underdog.

My very first “grown-up” job — I was in no way qualified. I knew the day they gave me the job I was a little bit in over my head (nothing new there!). However, I got the job, and I never forgot that. I was so thankful that I worked harder and longer to get to where I needed to go. I will never forget my first opportunity.

Sometimes hunger and drive for a position will show up as your best employee. Give that someone you have a “feeling” about a chance. You never know — but I believe that person will end up being one of your best decisions.

Lesson 4: Expectations

My advice:

As an owner and manager of a business, don’t expect the moon out of your people.

Take time to get them vested in your vision. Most people don’t care about your business as you do, especially at first. Why would they? They don’t own it.

It is often forgotten that those working as part of a team or an employee need to feel valued. Feeling appreciated makes me work harder, and it helps me to enjoy my job more when I know that I am doing a good job.

Customers will always know that they are getting the best from you and your company when engaging with happy employees. They want to feel appreciated and given a handshake or appreciation for a job well done. A thank you doesn’t have to be for every little thing, but never underestimate the value of a simple ‘thank you and well done.’ It goes a very long way to ensuring engaged employees.

Lesson 5: Rewards

My advice:

Pay people fairly and above-average rates if possible. I have had many conversations about unfair pay than I care to admit across various organizations.

While it is not the “done thing” to speak about who gets paid what — the talk happens and can make for some difficult conversations and bad feelings.

Finding out that I was being paid 20k less than a male colleague for the same job was like getting an actual punch to the gut. Gender inequality is something that I have witnessed first-hand, and I am not the only one. Get ahead of the game and pay every employee fairly.

Reward good work where possible. Have an employee of the month, Best Sales Person of the Year, Best Innovator, Best New Idea, Most Customer-Centric. Awards in some industries may be past their sell-by date, but when asked, it is highly likely that anyone chosen for an award is very proud of the accomplishment.

Others may disagree and tell you that it is archaic and not adding any value what so ever. Ask your employee’s/team what they think if you are not already doing something similar. Awards can make a team thrive, add to productivity, and help people feel part of something bigger.

Lesson 6: Involvement

Engage with your stakeholders, especially your employees. Ask your team’s opinion on the business. What they think is highly valuable as they are working every day in the center of the operation and may see things that you have not.

My advice:

Your employees know your customers and have long-standing relationships. Involve them right from the start of any changes.

You might get some pushback, depending on the idea. However, it is better to keep your team involved than to present changes unexpectedly. Don’t ask for opinions just for the sake of involvement.

People will see right through you. The culture in which you work is very important and can have an impact on employee productivity and satisfaction. 

Lesson 7: Comfort Zones

You decided to open a business. You know what it’s like to get out of your comfort zone, make a huge decision, and work for yourself. You don’t need any lessons here.

That said, we can all find our comfortable areas and unpack there in our comfort zones. However, these no longer exist if you want to build a business. Forget they did.

My advice:

If you are not feeling like you are a little in over your head you are not doing it right. Say yes to something you don’t know how to do yet.

Agree to a task even though you’ve never done it before. Learn to do it after. It might mean some late nights filled with YouTube tutorials for an app or a tool you’ve never used before. Nevertheless, once you find your feet being uncomfortable, great things will happen.

Lesson 8: Business Sustainability

My advice:

Don’t spend more than you need to on anything. Spend some time thinking through whether you need anything that you feel like purchasing.

Is the item,  something you could learn to do yourself? Before you decide on expenditures, you need to figure out if you have both the time and people resources to take on the task. Can you build your website and manage it? Do you have the time it takes to build a marketing campaign? Or do you need to hire someone for this?

If money is tight and you are a small business, you might consider hiring a marketing intern. I have taken lessons here from previous companies where hiring a marketing intern is a very common practice.

You may also need some help in terms of a personal assistant but you may not want this person full time or in an office location. Remote work is becoming more common in today’s workplace with many customer service representatives working from their home office.

The post Behind the Scenes: Insight into Large Scale Organizations to Apply to Small Businesses appeared first on ReadWrite.

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agile Agile Development business company growth enterprise Lifestyle Startups tips

How to Use an Agile Workflow to Grow Your Business

agile workflow

Agile was born as an iterative approach to software development. Since then, it grew beyond the IT field. Now companies apply Agile workflow across industries for everything from marketing to developing hardware and aerospace engineering.

And the reasons for that are entirely obvious. They include an impending economic crisis, an unstable business environment, increased competition, market transformation, shift to customer focus culture, and many more. All of them force companies to seek a more flexible approach to running a business.

If you are no stranger to these challenges, it’s the right time to consider Agile values and principles as a new direction in uncertain times.

I’ve been practicing Agile for around six years. First, as a software development methodology, and later for other processes in the company – marketing, human resources, etc. From my own trial and error experience, the shift to an Agile mindset is full of challenges.

It took us a great deal of time until we worked out an Agile adoption strategy that perfectly fits our company goals. As a result, we managed to improve workflows, increase business performance,  get higher revenues, reduce time to market, and satisfy customers.

That is why I’ve packed what I learned into six simple steps. They’ll help you reform business processes with Agile thinking within a much shorter time frame.

A Six-Step Guide to Make Adoption of Agile Workflow a Success Story

Step 1: Explore the Agile Concept up and down

Most businesses start shifting to Agile without a clear understanding of the concept.

There are two reasons why you need to dive deeper.

Firstly, it is expectations. You need to understand how this set of rules works to define a clear-cut intended outcome.

For instance, even in software development, we start a new project by acquainting our clients with the basics of Agile terminology and workflows. For this purpose, we wrote a step-by-step guide (mindk dot com) in other words, an Agile tutorial. It helps people understand what to expect from the process and determine areas of responsibility.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Agile, its main idea, as a software development methodology, is to split the project into small parts (called iterations). Each of the iterations focuses on releasing a small valuable piece of the product as quickly as possible and learning from the feedback. Besides, this feedback is used for further improvements.

Secondly, you need to define your ability to apply Agile workflow or adjust it to the needs of your organization.

One of the authors of Agile Manifesto, Dave Thomas, says that to improve the agility of the whole organization, you should follow a cycle of simple actions, namely:

  • find out where you are at the moment;
  • take small steps to your goal;
  • adapt your understanding given what you’ve learned; and
  • repeat.

Сonsequently, business agility is all about taking baby steps and continuously checking whether you are moving in the right direction.

Short Success Story: PepsiCo and Agile mindset

Here is a case in point.

In 2017, global food and beverage leader PepsiCo suffered a decrease in growth rate. Searching for a way to boost top-line growth, the company came to an Agile mindset.

By adjusting its principles to their internal needs, the company balanced the adoption of new technologies with a focus on clients and staff. For PepsiCo, agility meant a less formal, less rule-based, and more fruitful way of working. Hence, this venture led to a completely new company culture, better growth rate, stoked innovation and increased employee satisfaction.

Step 2: Check out Precautions and Challenges

Although Agile can bring huge business value, it is more successful in certain situations than in others.

As far as the whole Agile software development life cycle relies on flexibility, teamwork, and transparency, it’s adoption in large organizations may present certain challenges. As it means applying changes across the entire corporate chain, starting from processes to operation, culture, and behavior.

The most critical thing Agile workflow demands is a shift in behavior.

Thus, large organizations need to understand that embracing Agile at scale may reveal certain problems. Some of them may not be evident when embracing Agile for individual projects or within small and medium-sized companies.

Additionally, there are certain types of projects when full Agile adoption is questionable. They are mostly long term projects with a stable set of requirements where mistakes may be catastrophic for the whole company.

On the contrary, Agile suits well for projects where the problem is complex, solutions are still unknown, changes are possible during the process, and the team works in close collaboration.

Such conditions are common for several processes like product development, marketing campaigns, supply-chain operations, sales activities, recruiting, allocation of resources, etc. While for others, like accounting, legal branches, or other types of strictly regulated units, using Agile may be challenging.

However, challenging doesn’t mean impossible.

The best way is to analyze the operational model of departments in your company and decide which activities are better suited for Agile. That is, where you can break a complex problem into parts and hand it to a multifunctional transparent team.

In this way, you are proceeding to the next significant step.

Step 3: Draft a Kick-off Plan

Starting has never been easy, so start small.

For a start, identify the part or parts of the company you want to transform and how. After this, decide what Agile practices you will use, taking into account all the elements like processes, people, technology, etc.

Do not forget about Agile enthusiasts that will drive the adoption inside the units and defining time frames needed for such a transformation. This is how Agile adoption happened in one of the leading enterprises in winemaking, Mission Bell Winery.

The company decided to use Scrum (one of the most popular Agile frameworks) to meet the criteria of Safe Quality Food Level 2 certification. They introduced Scrum training, set a goal, and appointed Agile pilots in each department.

After they noticed its positive impact, the company continued implementing Agile and increased the yearly finished goods inventory process by 90%.

Step 4: Build a Shared Vision

Business results are a collective effort. Moreover, employees feel a personal and emotional commitment to their work when they work towards a common goal. This rule works perfectly in the Agile transformation process, too.

Thus, a clearly stated vision is more than a values statement or a mission. It is what guides your company through changing environments. It presupposes that all team members should base their work on the same list of priorities.

A shared vision during the Agile adoption will help you measure the progress and success, as well as make major decisions.

For example, CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, states that one of the pillars of their success is explicit and transparent purpose statements on all the organizational levels. The whole company is operating like a city, where decentralized decision-makers are united by common values.

Step 5: Adopt Experimentation and Continuous Learning at All Levels

Innovations are intimately related to Agile. In general, we can define innovation as an effective application of creativity that focuses on building a solution to cover people’s problems most cost-effectively and flexibly.

This is exactly what Agile does.

The process relies on experimenting, testing, and learning from mistakes.

This is great for startups, but other organizations can benefit from Agile workflow, too. Just think about how your company works toward developing business strategies, or guidelines to senior executives, or product launch strategies.

As a rule, these processes involve too much guessing and assumptions. In the end, you might even find out that you followed the wrong plan.

Instead, try to involve the stakeholders during the whole process, keep yourself up to date, thus ensuring your team focuses on what really matters. Testing, creating “safe to fail� tryouts, and learning from mistakes gives you a great opportunity to respond quickly to changes.

This is the heart of Agile experimentation.

This is how micro failures you can afford to prevent you from macro failures you can’t endure.

Embracing the iterative agile lifecycle to building machines helped the farm equipment company John Deere to shorten the innovation project cycle up to 75%.

Previously, they required about nine months to identify a new market opportunity and five to ten years to develop the product and bring it to market. With the Agile approach, they can go from idea to a working prototype in just eight months.

Step 6: Shift from Authority to Partnership

The organizational structure of traditional companies is synonymous with hierarchy – relationships between superiors and subordinates.

Agile organizations reject authority. Instead, they opt for autonomous cross-disciplinary teams. This requires partnership based on freedom, trust, mutual respect, and managing by agreement. Without this critical shift, Agile is a waste of breath.

Besides, leaders in agile companies are not inspectors. They focus their efforts on supporting rather than micromanaging. They are creating environments where each employee is welcome to contribute to the process, take part in problem-solving, and take over the responsibility for the results. The seniority in such teams rests on the depth of knowledge and behavior.

Massive two-year research by Google found out that one of the common characteristics of high-performing teams is a sense of psychological safety. It makes employees feel comfortable, talk openly, suggests ideas, and be comfortable enough to admit they don’t know something or disagree.

Introducing Agile workflow to the legal team of the largest travel guides publisher Lonely Planet helped to improve productivity by 25%. Previously, the team suffered from exhaustive daily demands, lack of transparency in priorities, and unrealistic deadlines.

Business Agility: Key Takeaways

Implementing Agile thinking throughout the firmly established company is no easy thing.

However, these steps are the pivot point in Agile adoption, and they focus on changing the mindset of the business. Sure, it is only a start, and much more work should be done further.

But a correctly applied iterative approach will enable companies to move faster than before, drive innovations, and adapt to the changing environment of here and now.

Remember that any attempts to implement Agile practices independently may fail until they are combined with an Agile mindset!

The post How to Use an Agile Workflow to Grow Your Business appeared first on ReadWrite.

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covid-19 Culture Customer Service e-commerce Lifestyle retail Sales tips

The New Customer Buying Experience in a Post-COVID-19 World

customer buying post covid

COVID-19 has accelerated the move to digital, and forced buyers’ hands to fully embrace and adopt e-commerce.

Research from Adobe’s latest Digital Economy Index shows that online shopping during COVID-19 has exceeded 2019 holiday season levels and online spend for April and May is $52 billion more than what retailers typically see during those months.

E-commerce has just aged three years in the span of three months.

The substantial increase in e-commerce transactions has put unprecedented strains and pressures on retail operations and systems. And things aren’t going to go back to “the way they were� either.  In fact, most Americans are still skittish about visiting stores and malls, according to a First Insights survey.

Retailers

For retailers, this means strategy overhauls of how they sell both online and, in their brick and mortar locations. We’re already seeing merchants, both big and small, think out of the box as they digitize their customer interactions and become more experiential.

There are companies that are ahead of the game, going all in on digital even before the pandemic. Below, we take a look at some of their shrewd ideas and how these may become industry standards post COVID-19.

Rethinking Brick and Mortar

Given current conditions, we will likely see many brands rethinking the purpose of their brick and mortar locations. There are already first movers in this space, where their storefront is more about telling the brand story, while the actual transactions take place online.

COVID-19 has taught people that in most cases, buying online can be better, faster, easier, more convenient, and safer. Retailers must make their in-store location worth the trip.

Tesla

Back in 2019 Tesla made the controversial decision to stop selling its vehicles in showrooms, moving all sales to an online-only model. Their showrooms are experience centers, not sales centers.

If you want to buy a Tesla in a showroom, you can, but it’s a DIY process. You have to pull out your mobile phone, pull up the Tesla website, and order the car. There’s no pushy sales staff who take your order for you.

Instead, the staff are brand ambassadors, there to help you fall in love with the company and its cars.

Focus on direct-to-consumer’s

On a recent earnings call, Jonathan Sinclair, CFO of Canada Goose, explained that the company would be pivoting to focus more on its direct-to-consumer (D2C) business, both through e-commerce and its own branded experience centers.

In its flagship Toronto store, there are no products for sale. Instead, consumers get a multi-sensory experience to “feel� why the company’s parkas are worth the hefty price-tag, which is often upwards of $1,000 for a coat.

Canada Goose also intends to reduce its reliance on wholesale and retail distribution channels going forward.

Online-Only Sales Model

In some cases, expect companies to close their physical stores altogether and continue business solely online.

Bose, which in January announced that it would be shutting all of its stores in North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia, definitely saw the writing on the wall even before COVID-19 hit the United States.

The retailer decided that it would continue its business online only, and when you think about it, no one really needs to try on noise canceling headphones or test speakers in a store.

Today, consumers trust online reviews and content more than they do a sales pitch from an associate. It was time for a radical new idea from Bose.

Microsoft

In a surprise move, Microsoft also just announced they will permanently close all of the 83 their retail stores and shift to a 100% digital retail model.

The firm is not planning to furlough any of their associates, instead inviting them to take new roles helping customers on their website through video and chat experiences.

Zara

Looking at some of the recent earnings calls from big retailers, they have seen a seismic shift in their business model. E-commerce has been the survival pill during the pandemic.

For example, online sales were up 50 percent year over year in Q2 for Zara, and in April alone, its e-commerce sales were up 95 percent. In response, Zara has now updated its online sales growth forecast.

In 2019, just 14 percent of its revenue came from digital. By 2022, Zara expects e-commerce to account for 25 percent of all the revenues.

A Focus on Building Community

It’s no longer just about the sales support you get while you’re buying the product, or the service and help you get once you own it. It’s about the end-to-end customer experience.

After more than three months of the pandemic, many companies are realizing continued success will be just as much about how people perceive and engage with the brand. The experience starts from that first engagement, continues through to purchase—and beyond.

We’ll see a lot more brand-affinity building from retailers, such as community initiatives that customers feel aligned to, and that may give them a voice.

Many examples of online communities

There’s no better example of this than what Calvin McDonald, the CEO of Lululemon, talked about in June during the company’s 2020 future earnings call.

During the early days of the pandemic, Lululemon launched an online community where customers could congregate to share their stories, experiences, and continue to do yoga together in a virtual manner.

Lululemon also built a new chat program, its digital educator service. Using FaceTime and Zoom, customers can book appointments with “store associates� for a virtual video chat about yoga wear that’s right for them.

Lululemon has essentially taken what was happening in the physical store and digitalized it.

It’s Not What’s Coming, It’s What’s Here in Buying

The future of digital in retail is actually here now.

As it’s said, “necessity is the mother of all invention,� and this is what we’ve seen because of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, we will see negative repercussions some businesses have faced in light of the pandemic.

We will also see some really inspirational stories around resilience over the next couple of months, and how thinking outside of the box and digital-first, can future-proof a brand.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

The post The New Customer Buying Experience in a Post-COVID-19 World appeared first on ReadWrite.

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5 Tips to Consider When Planning to Reopen Your Business After COVID-19 Pandemic

business after covid

While the fear of the Covid-19 pandemic still looms over us, businesses need to plan for a time when they will reopen after the lockdown ends. Yes, some of the countries are planning on restarting their economy so as to prevent the losses from going any further.

If you want to open your business and want to stay ahead of others, you should ideally plan your strategy to restart in the post-pandemic world.

In fact, there are many post-pandemic changes to expect in the workplace across different countries that are widely impacted by the coronavirus.

There are obviously a few things you need to consider before you get started again, and there is an obvious strategy that you need to have in place before getting started again.

  • The first thing you might want to think through is the position you aim to achieve once the pandemic is over. For this, you need to know your current position as well as the position you are attempting to achieve during the pandemic.What is your main goal? Do you aim to survive through the pandemic or is there another objective you are aiming to achieve? Can you shut shop completely or, do you have to keep things open for at least some time during the pandemic?

    The answer to these questions will give you a thorough strategy, which can help achieve a position and also achieve the goals you have defined. preparing for the post-pandemic period will be easier if you know what you are setting out to achieve.

     

  • You will need to plan your way through the post-pandemic time. if you open your business or plan to bounce back without an effective strategy, you might not know how to move ahead.Moreover, your employees may not support you in the post-pandemic period if you are not sure how to go about the preparation or the reopening of your business.

    If you have not thought through how to get started with the reopening phase or what you need to do to make employees feel comfortable after the pandemic.

You may also like to read: 5 Digital Health Technologies Helping to Stop the COVID-19 Pandemic

Here are five tips that we aim to share with you to make your business get started post-pandemic, and be assured of the path they want to take to get back.

#1 Social Distancing is the New Normal

Just because you are allowed to get back to business does not mean you can just believe that the virus does not exist. Even after opening up, you will need to maintain social distancing norms, and make sure your employees follow the same. As a result, you will need to prepare the office and structure it in a way that employees feel comfortable and safe entering this space.

For instance, you will need to make sure that the distance between two employees within the operating space is six feet. Yes, you will need to keep this distance even in the office. The break will not be treated as they used to be earlier. You will need to consider break hours during the post-pandemic. Make sure people don’t meet in the lobby or they don’t interact within the office spaces. There shouldn’t be a crowd or gathering anywhere in the office space. Prepare your toilets for one person and make sure that the reception and toilet area are not near each other.

In case, people feel that they can work from home, and don’t think it to be too safe to enter, you should make it a point to allow work from home where it is applicable and work from the office where it is necessary. This way you can stay operational and keep up with the social distancing norms, which is also necessary.

#2 Need to Redefine your Business Model

The business model will need to be changed effectively to make the consumer’s mental state, their financial state as well as their emotional state. Consumption will change during the pandemic and a lot of people will not consume things as they used to earlier. There will be a difference in their buying strategies and the way they complete a purchase. You will need to consider all of this while planning your business for the post-pandemic phase.

When you are planning your business to restart after the pandemic, you need to consider how you aim to define the business model for the same.

How do you think your current business model will handle things? Do you think the business model needs to be reinvented for the next level?

If you think you can stay on with the current model, then how long can you survive with this model?

Apart from this, you will also need to consider whether you need to diversify your business to generate the revenue you plan or how you can earn the profits for the year.

To think through this, you need to consider the customers, their consumption, how you have been selling all this while, and how you aim to deliver your new model to the customers.

#3 Visitors Should Comply with Rules

When you open your office, you can start expecting visitors. From people receiving packages to meetings with your clients, slowly things will go back to normal operations. However, you need to have set rules for these visits else you will be responsible for another massive lockdown situation.

Don’t just allow people without scanning them. prepare your office and the staff to accept minimum meetings, and to reach out to people virtually. The fewer people are in contact, the better it will be for the future. However, if the meeting is inevitable, you should have a defined rule which will make it easier for them to enter the premises and also make you look responsible.

Scan their temperatures, check if they have been marked positive sometime in the past, and how long were they quarantined. Scan them for all signs, and only after you are satisfied should you allow them to enter the office. Prepare a plan for how you will look at the meetings once you have started preparing for the post-COVID-19 phase.

#4 Cost-Cutting, With Great Care

When you cut costs, you are also cutting down on the possibilities of the revenue that will be generated. That’s why you should ideally think through the cost-cutting strategies, consider how best you can cut costs while responsibly increasing the revenue, and finally evolve your business through proper cost strategies. Not all cost-cutting strategies will result in good revenue or help you with your post-pandemic goals.

Ideally, you should run your financial projections, and consider whether cost-cutting is the actual solution to the crisis situation. If you feel cost-cutting will not cause any further issues or won’t put your business down, then you can go ahead with this scope.

#5 Plan the Execution of Projects

Post-Pandemic everything will change, including how you execute or prepare for the projects. You will need to consider a plan where you will show how ready you are to execute these projects, and how your workforce plans to move ahead with the projects.

Firstly, you will need to create a list of all the projects you are possibly handling, and how you aim to improve the speed of execution. What aspects will you consider for the prioritization of the projects? What tools are you preparing to make sure your employees can work towards achieving the timelines for these projects?

You may also like to read: Business Ideas Emerging in China During COVID 19

Summing Up

The post-pandemic era is still a far off thing. Currently, you need to focus all your efforts into understanding how best to move your business towards handling the current situation and be prepared for the tasks that will come their way.

Apart from this, you will also need to check the best contact tracing apps (spaceotechnology dot come) for COVID-19 Pandemic and then consider opening your business at this hour and what things to plan for, including the changing consumption patterns.

If you have prepared your business for the pandemic or have relied on certain strategies, let us know about your experiences. Also, share how prepared are you to open your business now?

The post 5 Tips to Consider When Planning to Reopen Your Business After COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on ReadWrite.