Business owners are facing three paths to choose from as the world emerges from a global pandemic. According to strategy consultant Lizwe Nkala, however, only one of them offers a secure future.
Lizwe Nkala, CEO of Strategon Consultants & Coaches, and a strategic and capabilities-thinking specialist, believes that there are three dominant mindsets in the world right now, and these translate into three distinct economies.
“I call them the fear economy, the hope economy and the ‘mask generation’ economy,” he explains.
“The fear economy is only interested in short-term survival. In this case it’s a direct response to the pandemic, but there will always be businesses like this, operating month by month and scrambling to make enough to keep the lights on. These businesses live in fear – fear of closing, of losing clients, of not making payroll. During the initial levels of lockdowns, individuals and businesses that buy into the fear economy were scrambling to import or produce masks, hand sanitisers, disinfectants and face shields. They were looking only at the immediate future.
“The hope economy is a bit different. These businesses are waiting for things to return to normal. They aren’t adapting to the way things are. Instead, they’ve pushed pause on any new strategies or product development while they live in hope that this will all be over sooner rather than later.
“The mask generation economy is future-focused. These are people and organisations that understand that things are never going to return to exactly what they were. They embrace the ‘new normal’ and all it brings with it, from new ways of buying, to how we’re going to do business and interact going forward.”
Three ways to become future-focused
The great opportunity lies in the mask generation economy. “We’re in a brave new world and whether we like it or not, its symbol is the face mask,” says Nkala, who believes that this mindset embraces the ideals that where there is destruction, there is also opportunity for something new to emerge.
“In many ways, Covid-19 is the great leveler. The next billion-dollar idea could come from anywhere and anyone. It just requires thinking deeply about what the future will need and the value that can be created by providing those solutions.”
Nkala offers three key pieces of advice to entrepreneurs who want to become more future-focused and join the ‘mask generation’ economy.
Work out how you can reconfigure your business model. Some industries will be more impacted than others, but each and every business should be thinking about how they can reconfigure their business models in order to adapt to shifting customer requirements.
“How we’ve utilised space, how much we pay employees, what products are must-have versus products that are nice-to-have are just a few examples of the scrutiny we should be placing on our business models. We’re at the dawn of a new era. Expectations are going to change. The businesses that are able to predict what their future customers need will be the trailblazers.”
Start rethink and repurposing your skills set. Nkala does not believe that the most successful solutions will eliminate the possibility of Covid-19 infection. Instead, he thinks that many of these solutions will be about eliminating the fear of becoming infected. How can you become a key cog in that new economy?
“People will want to continue using their luxuries. They will want new experiences. How these are delivered will change though, and that’s a huge opportunity that is just waiting to be discovered. It also opens an incredible space for greenfield thinking.”
Start by mapping patterns, both within your industry and outside of it. Nkala’s advice is that you should not be conservative. “Think big. Find the challenges and then start thinking about solutions, instead of trying to retrofit your solutions to deal with potential new challenges. These are unprecedented times. They will require unprecedented solutions.”
Embrace the opportunities that uncertain times present.
The current economic climate is uncertain. At Sasfin, we understand that businesses are afraid of losing clients and shutting down. We’re here to support you as you navigate this fear and the challenges you’re facing. The good news is that unprecedented times also present incredible opportunities for change and growth.
There is a place for everyone in a post-Covid-19 era. How we shape our futures and the futures of our businesses begins with how we support each other as businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as our willingness to embrace change and build the solutions of the future.