With the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine expected to take at least nine months in the U.S. once it begins in earnest, we’re a long way from the salad days of 2019 and it could be years before people return in full force to restaurants, live events venues and even hotels and schools.
Most companies will be operating with smaller budgets early in 2021 with larger expenditures targeted for the third and fourth quarters of the year, said AV business consultant Tom Stimson in the latest edition of his Intentional Success podcast series, “Business As Usual.”
Until things settle down, though, it could mean customers are forced to delay projects they’ve had on tap for a while or even make interim plans to get them through the doldrums, he said.
“Sales dynamics have changed,” said Stimson. “Lead times and decisions to meet aren’t guaranteed and uncertainty is the true enemy.” Stronger companies made pivots months ago and are more likely to thrive as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread, he said.
Horizontal pivots have less staying power, said Stimson, and one thing all AV integrators and live events pros must accept is it’s better to be fast than perfect.
“If you need to change, do it now,” said Stimson. “Buyers are already there. They will accept an imperfect delivery if it meets their needs. Don’t rush to create capacity. Focus on creating value.”
To do that, the first step is updating your business plan, said Stimson. That includes recalculating your cash flow runway and making sure it’s at least six months. Then focus on customer outreach and education to show them you might be doing different things than you were the last time you talked.
More Tweaks to Help Your Business Succed
It’s critical you stop comparing what’s going on to what was happening before the pandemic began, said Stimson.
“We might already be doing business as usual,” he said. “Demand is increasing but do you know what your customers are demanding? Deliver what they want and you’ll succeed. You want to be so successful in business that you can afford to turn down work.”
Stimson urges business leaders to “embrace the silver lining of the crisis and move forward from here.”
“We built a new industry and replaced half our revenue,” he said. “COVID-19 has accelerated long-overdue changes. Fighting the emergence of digital meetings today is futile and self-destructive. How we deliver events doesn’t determine the events’ success. The audience does.”