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They say never waste a good crisis. What about wasting a horrific one?

by Pat Stephenson

It can sound more than glib – crass, inhumane – to talk about business opportunity during the worst pandemic Western Europe has seen in 100 years.

Practically everyone is suffering directly or indirectly as the human and the societal cost of COVID keeps up its unrelenting barrage against the senses.

Not one person has escaped unscathed. Deaths. Long term illnesses. Mental health issues. Businesses bust or closed.

However. But. Also.

It is inarguable that we have seen and will see an accelerated change in existing trends of human behaviour. Remote working is the most apparent example. Something that was slowly happening (and with great reluctance amongst many employers) had to happen and did happen practically overnight.

Think about Retailers without online commerce functionality.

The restaurant experience.

Real life events.

Our relationship with transport and travel.

COVID was a enforced catalyst for change for all of these and much more.

Coming back into work this January there are numerous unknowable’s facing all of us – the ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’.  In the quagmire of record numbers of cases and Ireland as the actual sick man of Europe it’s perfectly understandable for all of this to stun us into inaction.  It is really tough. And I know a lot of people are naturally defaulting to ‘Just keep going. Just keep going. Let’s just get through this’.

However. But. Also.

With this level of long term accelerated societal change – again known or unknown – there is either opportunity or threat for you and your business.

Even where there is a threat there is an opportunity to get ahead of it. And a thread flipped can be an opportunity in and of itself?

As someone who thought it was a good idea to set up a business in the depths of a recession I am obviously an optimist. But I firmly believe there has never been a better time in the last 10 years to improve or reinvent your business.

So let’s choose to look for the positives. To see threats that are known and understood and reinvent them as opportunities. Changes that have been forced on society as the chance to build a better, or different business.

To help that approach I wanted to share three questions that I’ve used to try and identify those threats and opportunities. They help me. Maybe they can help you. Borrowed with pride from amalgams of everyone from Dan Sullivan to Jeff Bezos they help me to frame my thinking in a way that forces constructive, business-building thinking.


Build the business that would put your business out of business.

COVID has enforced evolution. This exercise asks you to do the same thing.

Imagine and then design the business that could out-perform your business? What would it look like? What services would it, and would it not offer? How would it steal your existing business?


You are sitting down in three years’ time to celebrate the incredible success of your (marketing driven) business transformation? What has happened between now and then for this success to have happened?

Three years is an almost perfect time to try and imagine a future. One year is too curtailing – it’s hard to envisage extraordinary transformational change in 12 months. 5 years is so far in the future as to be unrelatable. But 3 years. It’s the perfect amount of time to identify actionable change. And to make it happen.


Examine all the work that you do every week. What 3 actions or activities, that you are currently either not doing at all or not doing enough of, if implemented, could have a significant effect on the success of your business? What 3 actions or activities that you are currently doing have either no or a negligible effect on the success of your business?

Now swop them out for each other for 3 months. There is always a reason not to change. But honestly try to make these 3 changes for 3 months. Even just eliminating 3 time wasting, energy sapping less-than business building activities will improve things. But switching them out to focus on things that can possibly transform your business for the better?

And if nothing else thinking about building for success for the future can help get us all out of the grey day to day of January.