You Survived! Now What?

March is back, which means you’ve survived a year of Covid-19. It has been tragic for many, and there have been many, many changes. While I want to acknowledge those we lost (I personally lost one of my Aunts as well as a friend to Covid-19), there is still hope. Vaccines are getting distributed, and we have learned a great deal about how it spreads and how to avoid it. But I want to focus on your business and the implications of the last year on your business. 

Aside from the varied mandates, advice, and sometimes crazy news coverage, you have likely noticed significant changes in consumer behavior. People are acting differently. Online ordering and delivery businesses are busy! Virtual interaction has taken hold in the form of Zoom meetings, Telehealth, online classes, and virtual workouts. And medical research and how we pursue vaccines and treatments for disease has changed forever. 

Meanwhile technological advances like chip configurations and processor speeds are enabling advances in virtual reality, AI, and movement monitoring and analysis. Blockchain is decentralizing decision making in a variety of fields. Residential real estate supply has dropped to half of “normal”. And remote work is becoming the norm for many.  

There are so many more changes that I thought were on the horizon for the next five to ten years that all got compressed into the past twelve months. The future is already here. 

What does all of this mean for your business? 

It means that the future we were planning for is upon us. And how you adapt to it will determine your success, or lack thereof. Remember, it is not the strongest who survive, or the smartest. It is the most adaptable to environmental change that survive and thrive in the new environment. The environment has changed. How will you adapt?

One key to your survival was shared with me by Dr. Danelle Dickson. I interviewed her for my podcast recently and she said something that really jumped out at me. She said that when you own a business you have decided to become a specialist in figuring out what people want. This is so concise and elegant. You have become a specialist in figuring out what people want. It’s brilliant. Figuring out what people want is a necessity for your business to survive. If your customers do not want what you are selling, they will not buy from you. You will not survive. As my pathology professor at UCSF, Dr. Henry Sanchez repeated to us over and over, “Adapt… or die”.

Telehealth is just the beginning of adaptation. Beyond Telehealth and remote meetings, what will you offer to your Target Customers? How will you take the things that help you stand apart from the crowd, those things that make you and your business dramatically and meaningfully different in the eyes of your Target Customers, and use those to further differentiate your business? What new offerings or delivery methods will leverage your uniqueness and enhance the value you provide to your customers, clients, or patients? 

When will you have the time for this kind of strategic thinking? You must make the time. If you don’t make the time to think and adapt, someone else will.  

Examples

In response to all of these changes, Linda Boryski in Saskatoon has taken her in-person PhysioYoga classes virtual. She has adapted her offerings to consumers’ new behaviors and used technology to do it. If you go to her site under “Classes” you will see that she has converted them to a hybrid model affording her students the choice of being there in-person or Zooming in from home. Her reach is no longer just driving distance from her clinic, but the entirety of Saskatchewan and beyond. There is nothing stopping someone in Vancouver, BC or Los Angeles, or even Auckland, New Zealand, from enrolling in her classes now. And she is using her customer network to spread the word and expand her market. In fact in this last round of class offerings she had to add sessions to accommodate the unexpected demand.

Jessica McMurdie in Bellevue, Washington has taken the telehealth process that she developed and has been using for the past five years and packaged it to be able to teach other therapists how to treat pediatric patients and interact with their families and caregivers over telehealth. Her online course, T School, has taken off quickly, positively impacted other therapists and their patients, and has become a significant source of revenue. 

Garrett Akahoshi in Cupertino, California is taking another approach. At Peak Physical Therapy, he is adding running analysis and performance programs to his offerings. Working with runners is his passion. And by adding additional services that they need he will be able to engage them not just when they are injured, but any time they want to improve and enhance their form and performance. It also provides him connection to a community through races, events, and online groups and programs expanding his reach and providing greater clarity around how he can benefit his Target Customers.

And at SturdyCoaching.com I have adapted to this future that is already here by organizing and automating the key elements of the content I share with coaching clients. As cash flow stresses hit my client base and Target Customers in March and April of 2020, I decided that they might need access to the essential components of what I teach and the lessons I have learned personally from other clients along the way. Given all the uncertainty we experienced, and after talking with quite a few of my Target Customers, I decided to meet their needs by providing a self-paced program at a very low price point, essentially removing price as an objection. By automating much of the content and investing my time up front, the new 12 Focus Forward Pillars online course can be accessed by thousands of business owners who I would never have the time to engage with individually. The scale potential is there to reach and impact more business owners, helping more of them, and helping me get to my Big Ambitious Goal of positively impacting one million business owners by 2025.

These are a few examples of expanding your offerings in a future that is already here. The first is expanding your reach for a current offering using the tools available today. The second is productizing something you already do well in your business. The third is adding an additional offering for the people who already know, love, and trust you. And the fourth is productizing and organizing content to automate to provide greater reach and access. In all of these cases success depends on whether or not the offering meets their respective Target Customers’ desires. But taking what is already working and making it available to more of the people who already know, love, and trust you hedges your chances of success. 

The Status Quo is Dangerous

Not changing anything, not adapting to the current environment, may subject you and your business to greater risk. The sailor who does not adjust her sails to the changing wind and storms will get nowhere and will likely jeopardize her ship. In business, consider Blockbuster, Blackberry, Xerox, Kodak, and Sears. Instead of adapting to the changing environment they relied on their strength and eschewed strategic change and adaptation. In doing so they, ironically, thought they were mitigating risk. Instead, their leaders put these companies in great peril and the shareholder and owners paid the price.

Conversely, consider Netflix. Netflix innovated their own initial offering right out of business. When is the last time you got a DVD in the mail? But they did it before, and better than, anyone else did thus preserving their business and thriving in the new environment. And in doing so, they reduced their cost basis, increased their offerings, and expanded their reach. And further, they did all of this while enhancing their original customers’ experience. 

Now that there may be light at the end of the Covid tunnel, what will you do to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior that have begun and are likely to continue into the foreseeable future? What do your current Target Customers already desperately desire? What problems are they grappling with that are unaddressed? Where do these things intersect with your expertise and what you could provide?

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it…

My challenge to you is to make the time to think strategically. Schedule that time for at least one to two hours each week. Put it on your calendar right now. And protect that time! Use it to work on these big questions. And when you have come up with your solutions and direction, use it to work on bringing your ideas to life. 

You can bet that someone else is doing that right now. They are thinking about and working on new ways to deliver value to your Target Customers. Will you allow them to innovate you out of your opportunities and your business, or will you do it yourself?

I wish you the best of luck! And I encourage you to share with me what you are working on. And if you need help with how you will adapt to this future that is upon us, or getting your business house in order so you can get to the point where you can make the time to work on this, that is exactly what I do. Sign up for the self-paced course. Or consider one on one intensive individual training and coaching. This is why my company exists, to help business owners, and I am happy to help you.

3 thoughts on “You Survived! Now What?”

  1. Great coaching advise, Sturdy! It’s inspiring to see how far you’ve come over the past 20 years.
    Hope you and your family are safe and well.
    And my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your Aunt and friend to Covid. May their memories be a blessing to you.

  2. Thank you Sturdy! I found your article encouraging yet realistic when it comes to keeping an open mind to pivoting our businesses in order to stay relevant during the changing times. As therapists, we have so much to offer, we just need to be open to different ways of packaging our expertise and really learning how we can better serve given the changing times.

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