Adapting for Survival

When my video production company started taking off, the growth created more responsibilities, and with that came more decisions to make—and more stress. Phase one was the stunning realization that I had other people whose livelihood depended on my ability to keep the dream alive. It’s not the first thing you think of when you start your business. When you start, it’s just you against the world. You just hope your business survives. When it starts thriving, you’re faced with the serious responsibility of having other people rely on your decisions in a huge way and count on you to make the right ones because just like you, they need their jobs. It comes with the territory and you’ll be reminded of it daily.

While you’re getting your head around the fact that everyone is looking to you for leadership and answers to everything, you’ll be simultaneously scrambling to come up with new ideas, approaches, and processes. You’ll need all of them to keep the income flowing, to protect what you already have, and to adapt to whatever evolution your industry or the economy brings.

In the video production business, technology was advancing so quickly that if you weren’t out in front of it and able to adapt, there was a real chance of getting caught flat-footed and becoming irrelevant. Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) from companies like Canon and Sony had arrived on the scene almost overnight and had replaced their bulky and very expensive predecessor, the film camera, as the go-to industry standard. Not only were they a fraction of the cost to purchase, but they were also much smaller, more flexible, and easier to handle. On top of that, the client didn’t have to pay to process any film. The accessibility of these affordable digital cameras had removed the cost barrier to entry for filmmakers everywhere, and once that happened, there was a new director born every six seconds. What’s more, many of them were real talents who could shoot, edit, and deliver beautiful and compelling broadcast-quality content almost overnight for pennies on the dollar.

If you were a director or cinematographer and didn’t make the adjustment during that time, your career was toast. There were holdouts like Kodak that continued to sell the virtues of shooting on film, but the argument fell flat for advertisers who could get the same message delivered at a fraction of the cost. In less than two years, digital cameras became the standard replacement for the film camera—and this had major repercussions for anyone working under the old model.

And Then Came Covid-19

When Covid-19 hit the tipping point, it began creating fear, panic, grief and financial devastation to countless companies across multiple industry sectors. It has reshaped the business landscape and no one knows exactly if or when it will go back to what we use to consider normal. For the fortunate ones who are still operating, we have been forced to adapt quickly for our own survival or lose what we’ve worked so hard for.  Adaptation has always been an integral part of business success but in the case of Covid-19, the shockwave was sudden and the fallout was swift and pronounced.  Business owners have been scrambling to find a seat in the life boat since March and the survival of the fittest concept is still playing out in real time.


The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic vary from company to company and what industry you’re in but here are 7 things to consider while you’re navigating the implications of this difficult time:


The first question to ask is ‘where is the value now’ for my clients. Has it changed subtly or drastically.  Before you can best serve them in the new environment, you must know how their needs have changed. i.e. what is valuable to them now? Then answer the question “How can I deliver that new value in a meaningful way?”


Protect yourself, your clients and your employees by putting every aspect of your daily operations and the customer experience through the SAFETY filter that is compliant and mitigates the risk for everyone you come in contact while running your business. Then map it out, make the appropriate changes and document it so your employees and clients have access to the changes that are in place and they recognize your commitment to compliance as a leader and an active participant in their safety. Remember, this is a good time for clients to switch companies based on their perceptions of your safety protocol, customer service and your overall brand. If you make it more appealing to work with you, you can pick up some new clients.  If you don’t make changes, the opposite may happen.


Create a virtual experience for meetings where your client is comfortable while maintaining a feeling of intimacy. Take the time to design a virtual meeting experience that is professional, flawless and free of technical issues. Whether you’re using Zoom or another platform, make yourself an expert, dig into the settings and create a flawless experience for your clients. For the foreseeable future and for many professional service companies, these virtual meetings have replaced face to face, in-person interaction and carry significant weight for a client.


Revisit your business model and find out how your others in your industry are handling it. Whether it’s reduced hours, clear social distancing rules and signage, virtual meetings, outdoor dining, price reductions, incentives, creating a co-op, take whatever action needed to ensure that you can still retain clients.


Margins have become more important as resilience has become more critical. Many are experiencing a decrease in revenue from the effects of the virus so it’s important to make sure you’re minimize waste in your business.  Take another look at your margins by looking at your cost of goods and your overhead.  Eliminate any superfluous expense to make more room for profit without affecting the value or integrity of your service(s). A few percentage points can make the difference in your survival so it’s well worth the exercise.


If you haven’t already, explore the local and national support that’s offered to individuals and small businesses. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for support and take advantage of the programs that are currently out there and continue to evolve to help individuals and business owners survive during the pandemic. Here are two resources to get you started:


While Covid-19 may have taken a toll on you and your business, it’s not all bad news.  Times like these create opportunity as well.  The most successful business owners are using it to their advantage by exploring new ways to help their customers and clients adjust their own brand positioning, operations, value proposition and message. Be a maverick – take an active approach in your own success by staying positive, flexible and open minded to new solutions.

Challenges will always be part of the landscape and when the happen the best way to handle them is to get out ahead of it, stay flexible and educate yourself and be open to creative solutions. Reach out to your peers and colleagues (and even competitors) to find out how they’re reacting to the new challenges, find out if you can help them in any way, and then take decisive action for yourself to put your own company in the position to keep moving forward profitably. Revisit your goals so you can compare where you are now and how those goals may have changed and how the steps to get there have changed as well. Good leaders don’t stand flat footed in a moment of crisis and watch a problem unfold like a fireworks finale. They step into the fire, axe in hand and rise like a Phoenix.

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If you’d like to learn more about how you can adapt, survive and even thrive in the era of Covid-19, book a complimentary 30-minute discovery call with me and and take control.

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