1st in our five-part special series, Fuqua Entrepreneurs’ Insights on the Road Ahead
Brian Hamilton: As businesses prepare to reopen and are forced to consider new processes and procedures around employee and customer safety, I’m concerned about how much time new standards take to develop. Most businesses are typically at capacity, so, like the data security issues of a few years ago, now they have to take on a totally new set of activities that they have not prepared for. This is costly, at a minimum. I am most worried about small enterprises that have thin margins already (net profit margins for the 26 million US small businesses can be as low at 5%).
Amit Sharma: If you look from the consumer perspective, they will expect both increasing transparency in their interactions with businesses as well as more choice and convenience. Consumers been groomed to expect that every online order will come in two days. This demand for instant gratification will continue and will extend into areas such as groceries, prescriptions, household goods, etc. Consumer are going to expect proactive communication and a robust set of convenience-focused services such as curbside pickup and specific appointment times.
David Snow: There are essential manufacturing capabilities that we have outsourced to other countries such as drug manufacturing. I think we will see these essential capabilities brought back to the USA post-COVID for purposes of national security. People have seen how vulnerable we have become with important strategic assets outside of our control.
Andy Horwitz: Short term, I think the unprecedented disruption will cause people and businesses to plan to be more resilient including accruing bigger rainy day funds, focusing on stronger balance sheets, stocking supplies, embracing redundancies, etc. There will also likely be a nationalistic movement in terms of ensuring critical goods and materials to make those products are available and sourced locally/nationally. Over time these lessons will likely be forgotten and things will slowly revert back as memories fade fairly quickly.
Hetal Pandya: With entertainment and travel being disrupted, there’s an opportunity to allow people around to world to share an experience via virtually reality technology. Imagine using VR to ride Disney rides or walking around European cities from your living room. If done right and at the right price, people will opt for virtual reality experiences to be interspersed with actual travel or to perfect the actual travel experience.