Innovating or Exiting: The Near Future for Small Businesses

How often have you heard the phrase “the new normal” in the last few weeks? The idea behind that phrase is well-intended. People, rightfully, want to acknowledge that the world won’t go back to the way things were anytime soon.

That said, calling this “the new normal” is misleading, because it suggests that we should expect to fall into some kind of predictable routine again. In the foreseeable future, the only thing we should bet on is frequent change.

This presents business leaders with a difficult (and narrow) set of options: to innovate or to exit the market.

Navigating the winding road

We know that many businesses may not be financially able to reopen. That decision should not be taken lightly, and it also shouldn’t be ignored as a possibility.

Choosing Innovation


In the wake of COVID-19, some businesses have simply adapted to the climate (many businesses now rely on a work-from-home model, but are still operating like normal). Others are engaged in true innovation. 

Almost overnight, liquor distilleries in Minnesota switched from producing spirits like vodka and gin to manufacturing hand sanitizer. And many Twin Cities restaurants and breweries, including Park Tavern, Revival, and Pryes Brewing, have changed their menus to include take-out options designed with social distancing in mind. In many cases, we’re seeing this evolve to include no-contact curbside delivery - so service industry businesses can ensure both their employees’ and customers’ safety, and also keep their doors open (so to speak).

By innovating to meet the demands of the new economy, these businesses have made themselves sustainable in the near future.

Choosing to Exit

It’s the option no one wants to talk about, but it should be on almost every business owner’s mind. Sometimes you know - and have planned for - the right time to exit your business; other times it’s an unwelcome decision you’re forced to explore. The COVID-19 situation is an unprecedented event for many of us alive today, and something most small and independent businesses have likely not planned for. Not every business is built to endure this current economic storm, and it’s important to be pragmatic about your business’s ability to survive. 


We know that many businesses may not be financially able to reopen. That decision should not be taken lightly, and it also shouldn’t be ignored as a possibility. 


Ultimately, if the time has come to close or sell, it will be better for you and your employees to proactively plan for what that step looks like, rather than letting the market make that decision for you. 


Now is the time for thoughtful and decisive planning. You might need a change in strategy, a short-term strategy, or help thinking through exit options. Regardless of where you’re at in this process, it’s important to stay objective, seek help as needed, and make a proactive decision to innovate or to exit as soon as possible. 


Please reach out to me if you need assistance in these times. No matter what you decide, I always wish for health, happiness, and success. 


Saluti!




#business #innovation #strategy

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