Identifying Business Ideas During a Crisis

Many businesses have taken a hit from Covid-19 crisis but have also been presented with several silver linings for those that look past the dark clouds. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Spotting and implementing the so-called ‘bright spots’ amid a crisis calls for visionary and participative leadership approach that on-boards the entire workforce towards shared goals.

The question then becomes: how can businesses establish whether or not an idea is worth pursuing?

Any idea that potentially promises green shoots in the wake of socio-economic shocks must be subjected to tests.

Following the Covid-19 scourge, potential silver linings abound. Enterprises have to ask – is this new idea implementable, scalable and replicable? More importantly, they have to establish the impact of the said idea.

Only after these boxes are ticked during ideation can a business proceed to pursue the idea. This is the sustainability test.

Sustainability demands an idea to meet social, economic and environmental goals. Leaving out any of these pillars could send an enterprise out of balance and consequently out of business.

While Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed a hammer blow to businesses, it has also flung to the fore previously untapped opportunities. Organisations have to strategically position themselves to take advantage of these new possibilities.

To determine the efficacy of a new idea, the first step is for an organisation to ensure that the proposed idea would meet a recognisable need among a sizeable population. This is the market survey stage. It is then followed by running a cost-benefit analysis, which shows how much available resources would be needed to develop the product versus the projected returns.

The next factor to consider is whether the idea is scalable. Businesses have to assess from the outset whether their proposed product has the capacity for growth and the time horizon for it to happen.

Startups could use the hockey stick growth strategy to forecast when and how their products are likely to hit their turning points defined by rapid growth after a period of linear slow growth. Established organisations, on the other hand, could use more developed forecasting tools befitting their profiles.

Scalability applies to both production and sales; having the capacity to produce more for a growing market without necessarily hurting the margins.

Product replicability is just as important in the sense that a business can use a tested prototype to reproduce huge product quantities with similar quality standards, ensuring consistency in customer experience when using the product.

Finally, businesses must be crystal clear about the impacts their products are likely to have on people, the society and the environment. Some call it purpose – the ‘why’ of their products and actions.

Whatever the case, products should be conceived and created to serve a higher purpose, ranging from bettering people’s lives, the society and the planet. This is not to discount the profit-making goal, which is equally crucial if a business is to be sustainable. The problem is that for long the pursuit for margins has often overtaken all else, a situation that has given rise to an unsustainable culture of cutting corners, exploiting people and hurting the environment.

This has spawned seemingly intractable challenges such as deep social inequalities where only a handful of people control oversized wealth while the majority languish in poverty, climate change and pollution and disease outbreaks. This toxic witches’ brew is threatening future survival of humanity

That is precisely why it is important for firms and business owners to have accountability mechanisms for their actions. This includes committing to UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) at the corporate level, alongside to environmental, social and governance (ESG) ideals.

Most often corporations tend to forget that if you do the right thing, the numbers would follow through customer loyalty and referrals.

Embracing sustainable practices has become not only a responsible thing to do but a survival strategy for the human race. The proverbial Doomsday Clock ticking in the background is a chilling reminder of the urgency with which people have to put their act together as far as social and planet goals are concerned.

To build back stronger and sustainably following the fallout from the pandemic, organisations and economies have to embed the people and planet goals in their recovery strategies.

Beyond asking whether a project is implementable, scalable and replicable, stakeholders have to go a step further and assess the expected impacts on people’s lives and the society. Only then can humanity coexist in harmony and avoid a possible human-induced cataclysmic event in future.

This article was originally published by the Business Daily

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