Making the most of a Crisis: How to Use a Pandemic for Business Growth

The global pandemic put the brakes on hard for a lot of businesses. Around the world, many of us were forced to shutter our shops and retreat to our homes. Some chose to view the crisis as an insurmountable challenge, others as an opportunity. Those who chose the latter found new ways to work and grow their companies.

Three businesses, from different fields – flexible workspace business Be. Spoke in the UK, established custom jewelry and gem selling business Moriarty’s Gem Art in the USA, and Indian startup – Slurrp Farm – all found ways to use the pandemic as a catalyst for growth and development.

Three businesses, one mindset

BE. Spoke’s business plan had relied on startups, corporates, and solopreneurs renting physical office space in their London buildings since 2017. When the pandemic hit, their Managing Director, Jonathan Weinbrenn, expanded the vision. 

“For those people who haven’t entered the workplace yet, I worried about that lack of human skills development that we naturally get from being in a work environment,” said Weinbrenn. “This situation is prompting the workspace sector to think about how to accommodate different character traits. It’s all about getting the balance right.”

BE. Spoke now creates tailored and agile, flexible workspaces for large corporations and smaller entrepreneurs, alongside delivering the services businesses need to develop emotional intelligence and create human-centric workplaces.

Moriarty’s Gem Art in Indiana (USA) has been in business since 1975. The US government’s lockdowns forced them to shutter their storefronts and consider alternate ways to stay in business. Two weeks into the crisis, they were live-streaming gem shows on YouTube to showcase their wares and ramp up sales.

Meghana Narayan and Shauravi Malik, co-founders of Slurrp Farm baby food watched their sales disappear when lockdowns were enforced across India. The founders admit crying over the choices they had to make – cutting back less profitable lines of their product and the staff linked to them. The co-founders doubled down on the efforts to sell through e-commerce platforms and expanded online sales to meet the shortfall from physical store sales, to remain afloat.

While each of these entrepreneurs used different strategies to keep ahead of the game, they all share the same mindset that drove them forward. A willingness to find the silver lining in a crisis and leverage that for all it is worth.

Turning crisis into opportunity

When circumstances take an unexpected turn for the worse, we have the option to view it as an insurmountable challenge or find the chinks of light and opportunity that are hidden within.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean ignoring the challenge, or avoiding the difficult feelings and emotions that will arise from difficult circumstances. It means acknowledging and accepting them in order to move forward, instead of allowing them to immobilize us.

Life can be challenging – pandemic or not. Accepting this fact and honoring our feelings about it is part of the process of overcoming the challenges we will face. It is the first step for turning crises into opportunities for growth – both personal and professional.

When we do this, we combine hope with realism and create the space we need to solve the challenges in innovative yet realistic ways. We adopt a growth mindset and actively push past our comfort zone in ways that allow us to see the crisis as an opportunity while developing new skills and revenue streams for our companies.

Moving from shock to action

It is ok to cry or be shocked at an unexpected turn of circumstances – particularly one that can set us back or has the potential to stop us in our tracks. This is human and part of moving forward. Once we have taken stock of the situation and gathered ourselves again, we can move deliberately and flip the crisis into an opportunity – just as other businesses have done.

If we hold onto our vision and purpose while we consider the bigger picture, we can plot a way forward. Usually, this will mean adjusting our sails and selecting a slightly different course. It may even involve learning new skills and trying new things.

We can learn to enjoy being pushed beyond our comfortable limits by taking time to relish the small wins. Each of the baby steps we take in a new direction will take us closer to our goal. These small moments can make learning, innovating, and growth very satisfying. They are the moments that turn a crisis into an opportunity.

A crisis can be viewed two ways – as the end of all we knew and held dear, or as the beginning of a new road to a happier and more profitable future than we’d previously imagined. The mindset we adopt will always color this perception.

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