Who knew Ross Geller of “Friends” was a business guru? He made us laugh when he kept yelling “Pivot!” But it turns out that the ability to adapt quickly to changes and pivot your business is an essential skill.
This is even more crucial nowadays, as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggle to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
Turning challenges into opportunities
“If we were too in love with our original business idea, I doubt we would have pivoted as quickly. You have to be able to step back, assess the situation, and think of how your business can serve in some other way,” said Darwin Mariano, founder and CEO of Ticket2Me, Asia’s first blockchain-enabled online ticketing platform.
Mariano was a panelist at “Unlocking the Lockdown: Startup and SME Challenges and Opportunities Amid the Pandemic” on April 17. This was regtech startup UNAWA’s first free webinar. The goal was to provide SMEs and startups with insights from legal experts and seasoned entrepreneurs.
As an events management platform, Ticket2Me was particularly affected by the pandemic. Events have been canceled indefinitely due to social distancing and the enhanced community quarantine. This could very well have spelled the end of Ticket2Me. Instead, Mariano and his team pivoted, turning Ticket2Me into a crowdfunding platform for donations. So far, the startup has processed over Php18 million in donations. In fact, the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines coordinated with them to organize a donation drive for COVID-19 frontliners.
Mariano said they were fortunate that Ticket2Me was purely digital from the start, with no physical kiosks inside malls or bookstores. They already had the technology, so it was a question of repurposing their online platform.
“The ticket buyers and audience are the same, but the ‘events’ that we will attend are different. That’s why we are encouraging our content creators, our event creators, to move online. What can you perform online? What kind of skill can you transform into a workshop or a webinar so that you can monetize it? I think this is the new normal. It will be a mistake to think that we can ever go back to the pre-COVID-19 days,” Mariano said.
Digital transformation amid the crisis
For his part, Buffalo Wings N’ Things Co-Owner Rommel Ng said that the restaurant industry has not yet made big strides in terms of digital transformation. He pointed out that unlike the big restaurant chains, he and his fellow business owners still find it a challenge to deploy digital solutions.
Ng, however, said that what this crisis has taught them is that digital transformation is truly necessary. He said that restaurant owners should now take this opportunity to be more diligent in looking for digital solutions, and to collaborate with each other.
“Coming out of this, our wish is for technology to be more accessible to restaurants. I’m excited because I think after the collaboration and the cooperation, there will be consolidation in our industry. The thrust of our industry from the get-go, from the big players to the smallest ones, has been hypercompetitive. We can be more collaborative, so that we can have leverage. Like talking to the malls as one, or to the delivery aggregators as one. Technology is something that everyone in the restaurant industry wants,” Ng said.
Put your people first
All the business expertise and technology, however, will not amount to much if you don’t prioritize people. Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, president of social enterprise Rags2Riches, said this is even more crucial amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
As a business owner, you should show your employees that you are there for them. She said that prioritizing other people not only applies to your employees, but also your partners and customers. In these uncertain times, it is important for your company to earn and keep the trust of people.
“It’s very important to show your values right now, not just to your employees but also to your customers. Madali to live our values if times are easy, but living your values during the crisis is actually where values are most critical,” Fernandez-Ruiz said.
She added that in terms of digital transformation, business owners don’t have to wait to be able to afford sophisticated digital solutions. They can already leverage on what’s free and readily available.
“You can start with social media. A lot of the restaurants aren’t even on social media and aren’t talking to their customers. Now there’s time to talk to their customers,” she pointed out.
Generating new revenue
Meanwhile, UNAWA will hold its second free webinar this Friday, April 24, from 5-6 PM. “Navigating the New Normal: Revenue Generating Trends” will focus on helping business owners keep their financials afloat and find new ways to generate revenue.
Fernandez-Ruiz and Ng will return as panelists. Joining them are Bong Pacia, Indonesia Country Head of market intelligence firm Mintel, and Anya Lim, co-founder of social enterprise and fashion
e-commerce platform ANTHILL Fabric Gallery. Interested participants can register now.
“Being entrepreneurs ourselves, our team at UNAWA understands the importance of knowing how cash goes in and out of your business,” UNAWA CEO Mona Dimalanta said in a press statement. “As such, we felt it necessary to dedicate a webinar that focused specifically on financial matters.”
So, is it time to reinvent yourself and pivot your business? Use this opportunity to take a step back, look at the big picture, and embrace the changes you need to make.