Six years ago, Jane started a shipping and logistics company. She had two trucks, two drivers, and a rented warehouse back then. Today, she employs dozens of people, ships products all over the UK, and has a growing list of clients. However, it took a lot of Jane’s hard work to get to where she is.
For the past few months, Jane has been researching innovative technologies in the shipping and transportation industry. She has a dream of adding the latest GPS technology to her trucks. It will help her business operations be more innovative and more proactive.
The new systems provide great features like tracking speed, fuel consumption, and route planning with weather and traffic updates. Adopting the new technology would take her business to new heights and put it in a great place to succeed compared to her competitors.
Only, something is holding her back. Every day, before heading to the office, she opens her newsfeed to find that it’s wholly swamped with negative news. Jane and other business owners share a common fear about the economic and social pressures because of modern-day headlines like COVID-19, the US-China trade war and Brexit.
What she reads worries her. What’s the point of innovating while the world appears to be ending around her? Improving her business with new technology seems a long way away.
With all the problems in the news, it’s no wonder that business owners like Jane want to slow their operations and save their cash for better times. Only, that isn’t always the best strategy. Sometimes, being bold and ramping up innovation during tough times is what it takes to set businesses apart from their competition.
International risks that cause businesses to slow
What exactly is on Jane’s newsfeed that has her so worried? Among other uncertainties, three modern-day risks impact the international business community.
COVID-19: December 2019 - Present
On March 12th, 2020, The World Health Organization announced the accelerating spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The virus endangers the public health of many nations and the health of once-thriving businesses.
With many public agencies advising families to stay away from public places, many retail businesses closed their doors. Likewise, industries that rely on tourism suffer from international travel advisories and bans.
The financial markets have also responded to the spread of the virus. Panicked investors lack confidence in business health and so have caused markets to crash around the globe.
US-China Trade War: January 2018 - December 2019
Since 2017, international industries have felt the adverse effects of a trade war between the United States and China. It started when the US placed tariffs on Chinese-made products shipped to the US. Many businesses suffered as disrupted global supply chains forced firms to shift their strategies radically. In addition, the uncertainty of the trade war caused many business owners to move their operations out of either the US or China. The two competing nations signed cooperative agreements at the end of 2019. Unfortunately, many critical issues have yet to be resolved, meaning only time will tell just how far the effects of the trade war will be.
Brexit: 2016 - Present
After a national vote in 2016, the United Kingdom has been trying to navigate a complex departure from the European Union. The specifics of a complicated deal, set for the end of 2020, impact businesses and industries in many ways that are yet to be finalized.
Many businesses have relocated (or are considering relocation) from the UK to other countries to avoid the tax, tariff and regulatory changes that may be coming. Unfortunately, many UK-based businesses left searching for new product supplies and investments. As a result, many companies are sitting idle and waiting to see how it all plays out before investing more time and money into the UK system.
What happens to businesses when times are tough?
Global pandemics like COVID-19, slumping financial markets, international trade wars and the political unrest of Brexit are all perfect case studies to see how businesses exercise extreme caution.
Amidst the global uncertainty and panic, Jane and other business owners have good reason to doubt their business operations. Research and past observations in the business community have shown similar thought patterns shared by business owners.
Like one undertaken in this working paper, some studies have found that firms hold back on innovative activities during times of political turnover and uncertainty. The findings are in line with other studies on corporate investment practices, which suggest that firms are much more cautious with their innovation dollars while political uncertainty exists.
Business owners don’t know what’s around the corner, so they don’t know how to make their next move. They are cautious because they prefer to save their cash and use it once financial markets and political situations clear up.
The question is - should businesses be cautious?
Businesses should be bold.
Just because everyone else is slowing down business operations during uncertain times, it doesn’t mean that Jane has to follow suit.
One option for Jane is to do the opposite of everyone else. Innovation becomes a necessity, not a luxury, to keep business going during tough times. Jane could take advantage of a bad situation and change her pricing strategy. She could offer discounts on shipping orders or hedge her bets on specific industries poised to be less affected by the pandemic or the trade wars, such as groceries and health products.
Governments worldwide recently announced massive stimulus packages to offset the hardship felt by COVID-19. In addition, the UK government has announced a series of measures to help business owners through the tough times. That means that fiscal help is on the way, with support intended to help businesses cover loans and expenses and access new grants and reliefs.
Suppose Jane can keep her operations going with new strategies and business support. In that case, she can even move ahead with her business innovation strategy. Doing so would allow her to install that tremendous new GPS technology, even amid the uncertainty. Then, once the dust settles and the markets rebound, her business might be far ahead of her competitors.
With a proactive and inspired mindset, Jane is inspired to move forward with her innovation plan.
How Innovolo can help business owners innovate, even in tough times
Jane may not know it, but the best time to enlist the help of innovation experts is when the chips are down. Now that Jane feels the heat and needs to be proactive to keep her business afloat, she needs to know that her dream of new GPS technology is in good hands.
An excellent way for her to manage all the components of her business and outpace her competition is to outsource the innovation strategy to experts like Innovolo.
With the proven Innovolation Framework, Jane’s business ideas are in good hands. New advantages offered by innovative pricing strategies and new technologies like GPS can set her business up to flourish, even during the stress of global business uncertainty and political tension.
Innovolo can provide Jane with expert guidance and product feasibility studies to ensure her innovative ideas are thoroughly tested and in line with her overall industry strategy. By enlisting in innovation services, Jane can be comforted knowing that her business won’t just come out of this alive, but it will be on top!