How a crisis saved my business
Denis O’Shea shares how the 2007 GFC crisis helped him refocus and pivot his business. And he offers some tips to help you refocus your business. Who led the recent digital transformation of your business? Chances are it wasn’t actually an adviser, the IT team or the CEO, but COVID-19 itself. While the pandemic has been labelled an […]
Denis O’Shea shares how the 2007 GFC crisis helped him refocus and pivot his business. And he offers some tips to help you refocus your business.
Who led the recent digital transformation of your business? Chances are it wasn’t actually an adviser, the IT team or the CEO, but COVID-19 itself. While the pandemic has been labelled an ‘unprecedented’ event, every crisis throughout history has presented meaningful lessons and often uncovered opportunities – if you’re willing to seek them out.
Cast your mind back to 2007 – the first iPhone was released, The Sopranos finale aired, and the global economy crashed. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) triggered major global impacts that were felt for many years. New Zealand was far from safe, descending into an official recession by early 2008.
At that stage, the business I had started in 2004, Mobile Mentor, had been helping people unlock the potential of their smartphones. It had been doing very well, and then suddenly it wasn’t. Alongside every other business owner, I was scrambling to adjust to the GFC chaos. We were forced to downsize significantly and face the reality that the business model we had built was no longer viable.
Instead of giving up (which I never really considered for more than a nano-second) we decided to lean into the needs of our existing customer base. We knew the future was mobile and that our customers needed help to secure all their devices, manage their assets and support a mobile workforce. So, we took a risk and pivoted to provide security and support services for all mobile devices that were being used by the remote workforce.
The GFC proved to be a pivotal turning point that changed us for the better – resulting in a much more stable and durable business. This proposition was only strengthened over COVID, as a new wave of demand rose as every device and every employer became ‘mobile’. I know many businesses have pivoted due to the pandemic, but I have no doubt that there are still countless opportunities waiting to be discovered.
If you’re finding yourself at a crossroads with your business, here are some tips I’ve learnt along the way to help you refocus and embrace that change:
- Stay close to your customers
First and foremost, understand your customer’s changing needs. Not everyone is in the position to tend to other fires while they have their own to put out first, so identify where their pain points are during this tough time. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make a meaningful connection to gain insight into how you can help.
- Look inwards and evolve
Understanding customer pain points has always been essential to a successful business strategy, but see how these can shift based on current events. Let these insights inform your products, services or even your entire business model moving forward. It could be time to reinvent the wheel or make necessary tweaks to improve your proposition.
- Identify and close in on a niche market
If possible, narrow your target market down to a niche audience so you can win 25 percent of that market. And once you’ve achieved this, you’re in a good place to pursue an adjacent market.
For example, our early focus on the public healthcare sector resulted in us working with 75 percent of the country’s DHBs, which has given us the learning and experience target much larger healthcare organisations in the USA.
- Foster goodwill
To say that the pandemic has significantly impacted wellbeing is an understatement. So acts of goodwill go a long way. Try reaching out to local charities, offer mentorships or free tutorials – do what you’re able (within your capacity) to lessen some of the burden and it will pay off in the long run.
During the height of the pandemic, some of our customers couldn’t afford our services due to their own revenue losses. Given they were most at-risk of cyberattacks during this period, we offered some of our services for free. It’s been a powerful exercise, and one that’s definitely strengthened relationships.
- Ask (for advice) and you shall receive
It may sound counter intuitive, but it doesn’t hurt to set competition (and pride) aside. Reach out to those who have achieved what you’re trying to achieve, and learn from their experiences. Seek out communities like Kea, NZTE, and business associations for crucial nuggets of advice that might give you an edge.
Denis O’Shea is founder of Mobile Mentor.