Ambitious Or Opportunistic: Should I Chase New Business During A Crisis?

Bojan Rendulic

April 21, 2020

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Sir Isaac Newton may have been referring to gravity when he made his famous “What goes up must come down” remark, but it’s a phrase that’s strangely applicable to many areas of life: Justin Bieber’s career, the popularity of MySpace and, most specifically to this article, the economy.

In our current economic model of boom and bust, it’s fairly safe to assume that any bubbles that your company may float between will at some point go ‘pop’. What precipitates this burst usually comes in the form of a crisis. In 2008 it was the bankers’ crisis, in 2020 it’s coronavirus – 2029, 2036 and 2042 is anyone’s guess.

Whatever the crisis, this post is less about the particulars and more about the moral quandary a crisis can produce for companies. Namely, “Should I chase new business during a crisis?”. If your default business mode is Leo in The Wolf of Wall Street then you probably want to go straight for the jugular and sign up as many new clients as you can. But will that harm you further down the line? Let’s discuss.

Ambition Vs. Opportunism

Look, if Leo (aka Jordan Belfort) taught us anything, it’s the self-evident rule that businesses have to be ambitious. Sometimes even ruthless. All’s fair in love and war, as long as you’re not taking advantage of anybody or engaging in any illegal activity. But at what point can pure ambition morph into opportunism? It’s a very fine line to tread, and one that could potentially define your business for years to come.

Rest assured, many companies and entrepreneurs are facing this same dilemma. A crisis often represents a massive global shift: the economy has to keep turning, but the landscape has changed utterly.

Can A Crisis Lead To New Business Opportunities?

One thing is for sure: the world will overcome whatever crisis is thrown its way in some form or another. The timeline is hard to put a finger on, but hot on the heels of any global crisis will usually be some form of recession. Now, that’s not bad news for everyone; some businesses do very well in a recession. It’s important to remember that the money doesn’t vanish into thin air, it merely changes hands. Some people who had a lot will find themselves with a little, while others will suddenly have the opportunity to make their mark on their industry.

Every recession opens up a lot of avenues for investment and growth. However, if the recession comes on the back of a tragedy, you don’t want to be seen monopolizing on other’s potentially devastating losses.

Brand Management During A Crisis

So, should you chase new business during a crisis? Well, it totally depends on what your business is and how you choose to go about it. If you’re in the kind of business that can help people during this trying time, then it should be full steam ahead. “Helping people” doesn’t just mean providing medical supplies or some other frontline service; it could be anything from online education to app design – something that’s going to keep people engaged and entertained. Whatever your industry, think carefully about pursuing business aggressively, and how it might reflect on your brand’s image.

This crisis won’t last forever. Sooner or later, everything will go back to normal. You’ve got to think of the big picture and consider the potential knock-on effects of being seen as too ambitious during a crisis. Is making a quick buck now preferable to damaging your brand’s reputation long-term? Consumers have been much more conscious about the brands they chose to engage with over the last decade or so, thanks largely to social media. Some consumers are very vocal online regarding their priorities when choosing who they do business with.

Other Strategies During The Crisis

If you reach the conclusion that you’re not one of the businesses who can chase new clients during this trying time, there are some strategies you can implement instead. First of all, offer up some help and assistance to your existing clients in the form of client aftercare. This might be as simple as following up with an email, or providing some form of consultation for how they can navigate the crisis. Again, this depends on your business, but if you have the time (and you probably do), then it’s worth reaching out.

You could also revamp your social media or website, create a blog to enhance your SEO, or plan how to make yourself essential when the crisis eventually passes. Use Productive to help you keep a handle on your business while your team is working remotely; it can double as your very own online office while your physical one is out of bounds.

Chasing new leads seems the most attractive strategy right now because it has the potential to generate income in a time of uncertainty. But it is truly the best way to spend your time? Weigh up all the variables and make the call.

Every crisis has a peak. When you’re in the middle of it, things can seem impossible but soon enough everyone will be make their way back out into the world again, eager to get back to work. Business will start up again but the resulting recession, could last years. Pick your timing carefully and know when to start going out to businesses who are looking to rebuild.

Bojan Rendulic

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