Building business is building communities
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2020 - 12:00am

My clients recall that as far back 3 or 4 years ago, I challenged them that we are doing business in a VUCA environment, (Volatile, Uncertain, Chaotic and Ambiguous). COVID-19 has accentuated, elevated, and escalated VUCA.

Businesses are all very much interlinked, we are vendors and we need to be paid. We have vendors, and we need to pay them too. We have people and we need to take care of them.

Nobody talks much about growth and expansion, at least for now, because everybody is in survival mode. Discussions focus on how businesses can move forward into a month from now, and then in the next years steadily and carefully. A popular question is: “When would things get better?”. As of now, every answer is a mere prediction because no one can tell with certainty. There will be a certain point when we would see things climbing back and getting better, but that is still not visible yet. It is never fun to navigate the future when you do not have many options because of the moment’s crisis.

Business in a COVID environment is a challenge of liquidity and cash. We work with our suppliers, we work with our customers, and everybody is in the same boat because businesses are all very much interlinked. Customers are requesting an extension of days and terms of payments, perhaps we are doing the same with our suppliers. It’s all about being together in partnerships. Cash management is a top priority for today and for looking into a broader line of what’s going to be our cash management in the coming years. The situation will be terrible for businesses that are not liquid, they will suffer because they won’t have the ability to be flexible.

One thing for sure is that there will be a requirement for new business models. New perceptions and mentality, as well as new ways of doing business that would adapt to the developments of the current situation.

Meanwhile, consider the current realities. Businesses need to remove flux, simplify things, and concentrate on their core. Leaders should make their presence more important than their presentations. Show empathy, care, and be wary of their health concerns most importantly, their ability to cope with the stress of working under a new environment. Their people’s mental health is just as important or maybe even more so than their physical well-being as they work from home.

As businesses move to the digital space achieving speed and agility, companies should also realize that technology should more than ever be a tool to increase connection and speaking to the customers. Companies have to double up on creating their digital flagship, and that has to become a content driven location for people to consume all the content and understand the company and to be able to build that community.

COVID-19 or no COVID-19 business is all about building communities. Marketing people will have to pivot from thinking about traditional marketing methodology using mass communication vehicles, to a niche and targeted audience. They need to work closely with sales or accounts people. There is never a time as necessary as now to communicate with suppliers and work on a mutually acceptable term that can deepen the relationship poised to prepare for better days. The president of a multi-brand carrying company tells me that this is the best time to establish who the principals are worth investing in long-term relationships and who are those that they can eliminate because of their insistence on stubborn terms that are strictly one-sided.

Such strange times we are in today. The unprecedented event brings in unprecedented problems and challenges. But suppose we handle the situation correctly, maintain a positive disposition, respond to the changes, have daily developments while building communities, relationships, and trust; In that case, this unprecedented event will usher us into unprecedented opportunities. Those that handle things well today will take the lead tomorrow. Building a business requires building communities. This is foundational.

(Attend and participate in the live webinar this Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Francis Kong will host, and Pastor Chad Williams of Union Church of Manila will speak on “Finding Strength in the Small Things.” Live via Facebook@francisong2)

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