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Growing a Business in the New Year and the New Economy

We sat down with growth expert Carl Gould to discuss what aspiring and existing entrepreneurs are during these unprecedented times.

Carl Gould is an entrepreneur who created three multi-million dollar businesses by the time he was 40. He now coaches other individuals and organizations through his company, 7 Stage Advisors, so they too can reach their dreams. Of course, like most others in the world of business, COVID-19 has forced him to pivot and revise his advice in an entirely new world. He has successfully done so, and now more than ever, his expertise is in demand.

How did COVID change the business landscape?

It was probably the most merciless and the most unforgiving correction that I've ever seen in my career. Overnight, it not only put stress on already weak industries, but it also put a lot of stress on weak business owners or businesses that were in trouble. There was no mercy -  if you did not have your act together as a business, COVID just took you out.

How has this pandemic affected a business owner's ability to lead?

It certainly highlighted your strengths as a leader. It also highlighted your weaknesses or your blind spots. The pandemic magnified everything you do well, and everything you don't do well.  So, in the areas where somebody is a comfortable leader, they're going to shine, they're going to do really well. But, if you are going to lead from your weak position or your blind spot, no one wants to hear you.

How should people be navigating their businesses in such uncertainty?

Well, there are a couple of things that have to happen, and number one is you have to take to heart the requests that your customers are making of you right now. For example, bring the business to the customer, don't make the customer come to the business. Or, at least give them the option. You’re a florist, great, but you're going to have to start delivering. You're going to have to have an online presence. You're going to have to offer contact-free and touch-free service.

Second, you have to revisit your pricing strategy as it relates to your business. You have to look back and say, “Do I have the right offerings? Am I asking the right prices?” And I'm not suggesting that you're going to lower your pricing. In some cases you might need to raise your pricing.

The third thing is that you have to take back the office. If that position a person held once before requires them to be in the office full time, or one day a week, or two days a week, or three or whatever, you need to establish those standards once again for the good of the business and the good of the client. And, you have to make sure you're creating a safe and sanitized environment.

What opportunities has this pandemic created?

Interestingly enough, during a pandemic, during a big downturn, people want more tangible things. Things they can touch and feel certain about, but they also will put their trust in a vendor and be willing to pay more to that vendor if they believe they’re an expert.

And so people will pay more for certainty and if they think they're dealing with an authority in the niche. That's where the opportunities have really emerged.

What will likely be the future trends as a result of this pandemic?

The post COVID world is going to demand that you redefine the customer relationship in such a way that you're meeting their current demands. Because what we're finding is that what customers are asking for right now are not temporary requests. They are permanent requests, and you're going to have to pivot alongside the customer and make sure you're meeting their needs.

Changes made during COVID will continue after COVID. In other words, if we ordered online instead of coming into the store, or we requested the after-hours slot or the contact-free service, all of those preferences are going to remain.