February 25, 2021 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The fight to overcome, gracefully, the onslaught of the coronavirus has become a long-distance race in which speed has taken a back seat and in which arriving in the first position has ceased to be paramount. The simple fact of staying safe already implies an important victory.
And, although taking the focus off the finish line seems to be more difficult than the race itself, for entrepreneurs the reality is different.
From the first minute we decided to work on our own, we have had to learn to live “one day at a time” to stay calm and not be left halfway.
You may be wondering how I came to this conclusion, so let me put you in context.
Since I studied journalism, more than 15 years ago, I knew that I wanted to make a living from communication.
From presenting sports news on TV to working in the marketing and communication department of a bank, I believed I had what I needed to feel professionally fulfilled.
However, the disagreement took shape and began to bore into my mind.
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“Do you want to work your whole life for others? Why do you settle for earning an average salary when you can generate more? How the hell can you undertake if you were not prepared for that in college?”
So, without giving it too much thought, I ventured into what would be my first experience as an entrepreneur.
And, as they would say in baseball terms, I hit her home run .
However, the first lesson would not be long in coming …
Some are lime and some are sand
In the world of the entrepreneur, small victories are just that and, in any situation, it is better to have a plan B.
In my case, the unstable situation that I lived in Venezuela led me to move to Spain and start from scratch again.
Being a journalist and completely unfamiliar with the system, I decided to set up a food business, because, in my opinion, it was the only venture that could work anywhere and because I already knew what it was to undertake, so I thought: “What could it go wrong? “
As expected, it went bankrupt.
And it is that, when it comes to entrepreneurship, it is not enough to have the will and the courage.
Trying to break through in an unknown market, without understanding its nuances and without a strategy behind it is, for any project, The Chronicle of a Death Foretold, only without the recognition that García Márquez's famous novel had.
And just as superb and far-fetched is, nowadays, not having a contingency plan.
Currently, there are a large number of businesses that are about to close their doors because they have not known – or been able to – surf the wave of COVID-19.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), this pandemic has plunged the world into absolute chaos and is leading Latin America into the most abrupt recession in its history.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that the stoppage of productive activities, due to COVID-19, will bring about the closure of 2.7 million formal companies in Latin America, affecting microentrepreneurs to a greater extent.
For Alicia Bárcena , Executive Secretary of Cepal “the impact of the crisis will be very different depending on the sector and the type of company […] The crisis highlights the need to move towards a new development model. Emergency policies and implement a strategy to overcome the structural weaknesses of economies and societies “.
And today, more than ever, digital transformation emerges as a lifeline to alleviate the crisis.
Experience resilience in the digital opportunity
Resilience is the ability to overcome adverse situations and rescue its most positive aspects.
At a time of emergency in which thousands of situations affect us such as economic, health and social changes, the first decision is based on finding the formula that helps us channel the waters.
At that time when I found myself with a bankrupt business and astronomical debt, it was logical that fear, frustration and emotional downturn would lead me down the wrong path.
So the epiphany came and, with what I earned in a couple of temporary jobs, I decided to train again.
However, in the process I came across hundreds of job offers requesting professional profiles similar to mine, with expertise in the age of the internet and new technologies.
And that was how I found communication again, from a perspective that had not crossed my mind until then.
The digital one.
Because to reinvent yourself, sometimes, it is only about finding an alternative to what we already know how to do or the solution to a problem that already exists, from an angle that others have not approached before.
Just like Amazon did, when the problem was having to go shopping at a mall.
Maybe like Google did, giving you answers to people's questions without having to send them to the library.
Or Uber, as an option for people who didn't feel like going out to eat, but didn't feel like cooking either.
That approach was what allowed me to extrapolate all the experience I had in marketing and communication to the demands of business in the digital age.
And that's how I started working with projects that, like me, believe that:
- It is possible to impact people without resorting to hard selling; capturing, persuading and convincing through words; endowing a brand with personality and showing its differential value.
- Without a strategy at the company, content and communication level, there is no business model that will survive the disaster.
- The main thing is to understand that everything revolves around what the market needs and not what a company wants the market to need.
A clear example of the importance of understanding what the audience wants is this one from Netflix in which it is shown inviting its subscribers to leave home, just after having lifted the confinement in Madrid.
And it is that all types of businesses now have the opportunity to show a different face
Like Engel & Völkers when they asked me to improve the copy of their recruitment campaigns and emails to make their offer more attractive to potential real estate consultants.
Or like those smaller projects or undertakings that have asked me to help them change the texts on their website, advertisements or sales pages to adapt to the new demands of their potential clients.
And it is that to reinvent themselves, as I did, all these companies have understood the importance of reorienting their action plan towards the demand of the new consumer who lives on the internet.
As the Latin American Economic Outlook 2020 (LEO) report says, “digital transformation can help address the current socio-economic situation.”
That is why we see so many restaurants showing their menu through a QR code to avoid contact.
Or consultants, auditors and trainers providing their services through a Zoom room.
Even comedians doing their stand ups digitally.
What today is shown as new professions , are, in reality, the same as always in a different packaging.
The key to the resilient entrepreneur: common sense
Leaving a job for another, living a migration, facing a pandemic …
As you can see, the only permanent thing is change.
However, the important thing revolves around discerning when the time has come to make decisions and acting on them.
And although Voltaire once said that “common sense is the least common of the senses”, overcoming the adversities that entrepreneurship brings with it is not possible without knowing the difference between the logical, the acceptable and the irrational.
For example, imagine that you have a restaurant and that, due to confinement, you can only operate under the delivery mode.
It is logical that you want to implement an action plan on social channels to boost food orders. It is acceptable that you want to apply discounts and promotions to make your offer palatable. But it's irrational for you to do it on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Google, just because someone told you that you should be everywhere. Dealing with all the noise that exists is as complicated as it is to face complex circumstances and draw positive learning from them.
However, he thinks that just as COVID has not distinguished between gender, age or country of origin, to wreak havoc at all levels; The new opportunities have not done it either and they are there for small, medium and large traders.
Thanks to the doors that the internet has now opened, they are for you and they are for me.