Rajat Jadhav, Co-founder, Bold Care dissects the forward-thinking strategies that startups need to stay relevant during the dynamic times of a pandemic and beyond
The Covid-19 pandemic has cast new challenges on the lives of people around the world, and has even made indelible changes to the landscape of business. However, many aspects of the ‘new normal’ that set in are here to stay. For instance, customers are increasingly getting used to the customisation and convenience of businesses’ digital transformations, so it would be short-sighted to treat these changes as temporary. The way forward for startups, as the vaccine rollout unfolds around the world – and marks the possible beginning of the end of the pandemic – is to exchange an immediate plan of action for a fundamental, strategic, and long-term approach. This repositioning needs to percolate through the reimagining of startups through a lens of multifunctional teams, and through the redefining of the end-to-end consumer experience.
Reforming the workforce
Earlier this month, business tycoon Azim Premji pointed out that since the rollout of the first lockdown, over 90% of the technology industry moved to working from home (WFH), and continues to do so. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had stated, a few months into the pandemic, that his company’s employees would be allowed remote working even after the virus recedes.
This flexible model has enabled employees to balance their work, and home, while also making room for physical and mental wellness. It ensures inclusive growth for businesses, while seeing employee participation, and scaling, that’s not necessarily bound by geography.
Businesses shouldn’t resign to this ‘new normal’, and should view this as an opportunity to tap into an exciting era of efficiency. A study by software company Prodoscore revealed that employees’ productivity in 2020 increased by as much as 47%. Of course, such a system would rely on virtual networks, making it imperative that businesses invest in secure digital frameworks – from Zero Trust Network Access to Virtual Private Networks.
Building a multi-functional team and investing in advanced analytics solutions will make businesses agile – a need that the pandemic has both accelerated and emphasized when it comes to keep up with the market and consumer’s changing behaviours.
New-age consumer experiences
While post-Covid economic recovery has fared better than estimates, it will take more time to recuperate. Yet, a trend that startups must heed, is the move from a sales-driven approach to one that creates powerful consumer experiences. Shifting the focus onto the consumer entirely will drive customer loyalty, and deepen brand equity. For instance, a Seattle-based brewery, Optimism Brewing Company, risked going out of business, but revamped itself by turning into a co-working space. The brewery got customers, and the customers got a change of scenery from working from home.
Consumer preferences have been blurring the line between e-commerce and retail, and the rapid expansion of online players in India signals a booming market that will spring off of traditional retail. Bold Care, the online men’s health and wellness startup I co-founded, has seen a surge of customers during the pandemic. This shift towards the virtual also stresses the need for AI-driven insights that will offer calculated predictions and strategic solutions to deliver to customers, and scale business.
Understanding the ever-changing consumer is essential, and today, they need startups to be more socially conscious and aware. A study by the marketing agency from USA, Good.Must.Grow, showed that the pandemic led to consumers making more socially responsible choices – hitting the highest Conscious Consumer Spending Index score since 2017. Social conversations are dynamic, and have been expanding online these past few years. An awareness of these discourses makes the consumer feel heard.
Concretising a sustainable startup model that will appreciate the situations global lockdowns have spurred, while also catering to the ‘new normal’ the pandemic will leave in its wake as it abates, is what will establish the longevity of any business.