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Surviving the crisis: Keep business tracking forward


So COVID-19 has sent the world into a crisis and thrown just about everybody’s life into a spin, but that doesn’t mean time stops. In fact, time is now on your side if you’re running a business and trying to make it profitable or keep it that way. Doors may be shutting all around your neighbourhood, but for that very reason, digital portals are thriving, and will continue to do so.


In this article we’ll look at the current reality, what impact it has on businesses and services of all sizes and shapes, and what opportunities exist to keep business tracking forward.

In a LinkedIn article, Stephen A. Pike, Business and Corporate Law Partner at Gowling WLG, equates the pandemic to a three-snake threat, with each snake requiring a unique response depending on how the business principal views the threat.


  • A viper strikes quickly, so the idea is to move back, not losing sight of the snake, make sure you’re safe and be on the lookout for others.

  • A constrictor is heavy and muscular. It wraps itself around you and restricts your ability to breathe. Your best chance to survive is to wait for somebody to come along and remove the threat.

  • A rattlesnake is a threat you hear before you see it. It senses you and begins to rattle to signal its unease, which is your cue to be vigilant lest it lash out. As long as you hear the rattle, the threat remains.


If you apply this analogy to the current business environment under the shadow of COVID-19, each business has to respond to these three types of threats in the appropriate ways.


Handling the three snakes


The viper that is COVID-19 is blocking your path to success. It’s dangerous and your response is to retreat, meaning you need to find another route to continue on your business journey. You also need to keep your eyes on the threat and make sure you are safe; that means you keep all your staff away from the viper, working remotely from a safe distance. At the same time, you need to keep an eye out for other strikes by implementing policies that will mitigate the opportunity for infection.


Meanwhile, the constrictor is wrapping itself around you and restricting your ability to breathe. This snake is the larger business context created by the necessary shutdowns due to COVID-19. Revenues may be dwindling, and cost reductions may not seem to offset that completely. That’s where the outside help comes in—loan deferrals from banks, government assistance for the business or its employees (which will help the bottom line temporarily)—to help alleviate some of the pressure this snake is exerting on you.


And then you hear the rattle that indicates a copperhead may be in the bushes along the path, ready to lash out if you let your guard down. This snake represents the longer-term COVID-related threats your business needs to stay aware of. The rattle is a reminder that further danger is coming. If you tread carefully, you can still keep your distance from this snake, but you need to pay close attention to the signs.


The trouble with the three snakes


While it’s useful for modeling the way a lot of us feel about the current situation, we don’t particularly like this analogy because it deals strictly with the threat. Outside of killing the snake (which your business will likely not be able to do, unless you’re working in the health sector), all the recommended ways of dealing with it involve being aware of the danger and living with it.


We prefer a much more proactive approach, which as the current working environment is proving, is digital. If you have a sound digital strategy, you’re handling the snake much better than others who are learning as they go.


Come back to read part 2 of the series, where we move away from focusing on your fear of snakes and look at ways to smoothly navigate today’s choppy business waters based on the digital strategies you’ve put in place.

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