Many businesses suddenly found themselves temporarily out of business when the coronavirus pandemic struck. It brought sudden panic to many business owners and their employees, but there were a few that discovered a way to survive in spite of the shutdowns. They saw an opportunity and pivoted their business temporarily to meet the demand.
The Call Was Given
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, some hospitals in areas where the number of cases exploded found themselves running short of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hospital-grade facemasks. Hospital staff put out a call for help to get the needed equipment. Exposure to the virus was occurring unnecessarily among the people that needed it most – the frontline medical staff. Many of them had already become infected by this time and some had even died.
The Adaptation Was Made
Some companies responded to the call and began making the desired equipment. A few companies even started changing their equipment to be able to manufacture the PPE. Undoubtedly, this call increased the number of manufacturers and the adaptation of companies to meet this need has saved many lives since.
Although a few companies (GM, etc.) were ordered by the President to start manufacturing ventilators and other equipment, some volunteered – such as Elon Musk. In the case of GM, their employees were already laid off. They were called back and designed and then implemented the manufacturing process that was needed.
During the shutdown, many products began to run out. This especially happened in the case of toilet paper, cleaning wipes, bleach, and hand cleaner. Some companies with a vision jumped in and started meeting the demand. Although it may not have let the company bring in their usual profit, it enabled some companies to keep their doors open and at least some of their employees working.
These companies were willing to make changes in their usual production to meet the immediate demands. Flexibility and imagination not only keep the company going, but it also gave them public recognition in their community and beyond – something almost every company can benefit from.
3-D Printers Put to Work
A few companies had 3-D printers and staff that knew how to use them. They pivoted their usual use of the printers and started printing face shields and other equipment. At least one company was able to design a ventilator that could be entirely made on a 3-D printer. It required no electricity to operate.
Other companies, including some large ones, pivoted their business to start making food deliveries to people shut-in – particularly the elderly who did not want to risk going into public places. Doing this made those companies essential and they were enabled to keep on working.
Consider the Supply Chain
Many products sold in the U.S. are made in China. When coronavirus struck there, most manufacturing plants were shut down. While their manufacturing has largely been restored and employees are back to work, right now there is a glut of products. However, many American companies want to bring their manufacturing back to the States so that the supply chain is not hit hard again and companies left without products. The relations with China are not the best right now over the Hong Kong and the China Seas issues. Other issues could also develop. Can your company pivot successfully to keep it going if a supply problem develops?
Staying alert to needs in your community or across the nation may give you powerful opportunities to meet an urgent demand. It will take alertness and innovativeness to pivot as needed, but in some cases, it may not take much extra time or work to make those changes.