By Mark Flickinger, Forbes Contributor
In these trying times, we’re already discovering that the businesses most likely to come out on the other side are the ones with the ability to adapt. We saw some early, publicized examples of this: restaurants turning into community pantries and bodegas, whiskey distilleries switching over to producing hand sanitizer.
Even during a crisis such as the one we’re currently in, good entrepreneurs recognize opportunity. When one door closes, they look at the situation to see what other ones may be opening. Instead of tucking in their tails, these entrepreneurs ask themselves, “What new needs has this problem created and what can we do as a company to help resolve them?”
Sometimes, the answer may be a completely new product offering, or the adaptation of an existing one for new uses. In our current climate, it might also mean a change in pricing structure to accommodate customers’ reduced budgets, or a revamped marketing strategy that focuses on goodwill and not just profit. But the key word remains adapt.
Bend Your Offering To Meet The Market Need
As a venture capitalist, I’ve been in a special position to witness the evolution of a number of early-stage and high-growth companies. Most recently, this has included having a front-row view into how some organizations have adapted their businesses to help resolve pandemic-related issues for customers. The following examples are part of BIP Capital’s investment portfolio:
The OncoLens software platform enables multidisciplinary discussion of cancer cases critical to the development of the right treatment plan for a patient. It replaces the labor-intensive process of aggregating relevant patient data along with the latest treatment options and available clinical trials to support the development of the best treatment decision for the patient. The platform drives standardization of discussions and engagement from multiple specialties such as oncology, surgery, pathology, and others. Before the pandemic, these discussions were held in person. OncoLens wanted to ensure that cancer care did not stop due to new social-distancing restrictions, so it expedited the release of an integrated, HIPAA compliant, virtual Tumor Board module and offered it at no cost to cancer centers for a limited period. As a result, care team members were able to use the software to securely review patient data together and formulate treatment plans while practicing social distancing.
PlayOn! Sports is a sports media company and operator of the NFHS Network, which delivers livestreaming and on-demand viewing of high school athletics. School participation with the network requires automated production units at athletic venues to capture the action, but the pandemic has created budget shortfalls that put the units financially out of reach for many schools. As a result, PlayOn is giving free production units to eligible schools in order to grow network participation. Additionally, it has increased revenue sharing with National Federation of High Schools state association member schools to help offset their losses due to reduced fan attendance at events.
Wellview Health is a leading digital health engagement company that provides tech-enabled well-care and clinical services to health plan members. Wellview’s solution enables employers to save on healthcare costs by improving members’ access to value-based care through the Wellview application. The company recently launched WellCheck™, a symptom checker and return-to-work solution that provides employees an opportunity to monitor a range of health symptoms on a daily basis, including those potentially related to COVID-19. The solution navigates “at-risk” users to integrated health services including telemedicine, telemental health, condition management, and more.
By identifying immediate needs in the market and adapting accordingly, these organizations were able to heighten their offering’s relevancy and value, support existing customers, and reach potential new users.
Flexing Into The Needs Of Your Business
It’s important to note that adapting sometimes goes beyond what the business itself is offering in terms of a product or service. As some entrepreneurial companies are forced to downsize and eliminate jobs in order to keep the lights on, leadership may have to practice their own agility by helping to fill in for those now-missing resources. For instance, if sales reps have been furloughed, a VP of sales might have to make field calls again, something he or she hasn’t done in years.
Our current situation may require leadership to dust off some skills and flex into whatever the needs of the business currently are, be it sales or marketing, or some other role. It may also require temporarily letting go of some specific job perks to help the company cut costs and maintain operating capital.
There Is Always A “Move”
Meeting your customers where they are today is the true definition of business agility and is key to business survival, especially in these tougher times.
In his book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” Silicon Valley entrepreneur Ben Horowitz wrote: “Technology businesses tend to be extremely complex. The underlying technology moves, the competition moves, the market moves, the people move. As a result, like playing three-dimensional chess on Star Trek, there is always a move.”
As an entrepreneur, it is your mission to identify what that next move is. It’s required of you to recognize the current opportunities that you’re best positioned to capitalize on, and then, as a leader, move the business in that direction, and move quickly. The good news is that your organization will be stronger for it and better equipped to meet the next challenges that will inevitably arise.
Our current situation is difficult for businesses and individuals alike, but those that show resiliency through adaptability have the greatest chance to thrive.
Disclaimer: OncoLens, PlayOn! Sports, and Wellview Health are part of BIP Capital’s investment portfolio.
This article was originally published in Forbes and was reprinted with permission.