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COVID-19 maelstrom is a completely different beast from past economic crashes. First, it's a health crisis that knows no borders and boundaries, affecting the entire world. Second, governments all over are enforcing home-sheltering and lock-downs, causing businesses to shutter and causing unemployment rates to spike globally. Lastly, the market condition was ripe for a downtrend — coronavirus was just the trigger, and the unknown element that will impact how long this storm will last.

The world didn't end after the Black Monday of 1987, the Dot-Com Bust, and the Great Recession. It will not end by COVID-19. We will get through this somehow. There will be lots of pain and tragic outcome for many people throughout the world. For those suffering loss, I sincerely hope they have a strong community that will surround them with support and love that they will need to overcome their grief and circumstances. 

As we need our community to help us through this in our personal lives, we will also need to rely on our business community to help our businesses survive COVID-19 and ultimately thrive. 

One of the first things my family did was to make sure our neighbors are okay - especially the elderly and vulnerable. We have developed new friendships through this simple outreach of leaving them a note or putting out our harvest of lemons on the driveway for people to take. Likewise, we need to take care of our business community by working together and with empathy. Whether you're B2B or B2C, empathy takes on a greater importance at times like this. 

Here are some suggestions on how to navigate your business through this new paradigm.

  1. Empathy. Check-in on your customers: call, email, post in social media, send out newsletters, etc. Show you share the same fears as your customers. Ask how they are and what problems they are facing. Don't be selling. Just check in on them. You may be able to help them but maybe unexpectedly. 

  2. Don't avoid the COVID-19 induced uncertainties with your customers and partners. Address it head-on. This is not business as usual. #coronavirus is the biggest trending topic. Customers want to know what’s up with you and how it will affect them.

  3. Show your customers you have a plan:

    • How you will steadily navigate during this time and come out stronger​

    • Show your short, mid, and long-term plan

    • Execute on the plan and let them know your progress

  4. Explore opportunities. Now is the time to examine your business as it was and how it can be. What are the areas that you hadn't shined before because you were too busy with day-t0-day operation? What are the opportunities that are presenting itself in this environment? Think outside the box and see how your business competencies can translate into areas that you hadn't imagined in the past.

  5. Reassess your marketing:

    • Virtual interaction will be the new norm for a long time to come - perhaps permanently, as businesses realize the cost-saving and marginal benefit of meeting in person.​

    • Examine your industry and think through how things will change once the dust settles. You'll have to make significant changes to adapt to the new world.

    • Who is your ideal customer? How can you focus more resources on reaching to the ideal customer?

    • ​What value can you add to your customers post-COVID, and how does that need to be conveyed?​

  6. Take care of your team. ​​Communicate your plan. They are filled with as many uncertainties and anxiety as you. Including them in your planning will help reassure them that they will be a part of the solution and your future.

  7. Craft your communication well. Be mindful of the tone, imagery, and message. Extra consideration is needed for appropriateness of the moment and how it reflects on your brand. Avoid trying too hard to be funny, in-your-face, or too gleeful. Somber zeitgeist calls for serious, reflective tonality. 

  8. Do good. Help one another. Don't be a jerk and play the zero-sum game. We can come out of this together in a win-win situation.

  9. Lastly, don't go into the cave. If you do find yourself feeling depressed, despondent, filled with anxiety or worse, run to whatever anchors you (emotionally and physically) and hold on to it for dear life. More importantly, set aside your pride and reach out to people that know and love you. Simply talking will help you gain perspective and maybe even find some answers. God bless everyone. 

"The reputation that you forge today will last years down the road. Do the right thing."

Sonny Hong

Sonny Hong
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