How to reinvent your small business for the ‘new normal’

Change can come in a shift over time or in an instant through a trigger. COVID-19 is that trigger. Our needs have changed, and so our expectations have also changed change. At the intersection of the trigger and customer needs is where reinvention can happen.

Adriana Madrinan, a consultant at Florida SBDC at FIU who specializes in growth strategy, business models and innovation, says as a business owner you can respond in one of three likely ways. Your business may be in the right space at the right time for this period and that means your work is intensified. Still, you want to seize the opportunities. Businesses in telemedicine and online education are likely experiencing this. Or you may need to quickly build a parallel business. For instance, you own a restaurant but had never offered delivery. Or lastly, your business needs a total re-invention because it is clear that it won’t be relevant in the “new normal” the coronavirus crisis is acelerating.

Whether you are seizing opportunities or undergoing a top-to-bottom reinvention, it is important not to narrow your vision of what you do, says Madrinan, a strategy expert who also teaches business strategy at StartUP FIU and holds an MBA. She recently presented webinars with SBDC at FIU on the topic of reinvention.

So let’s get started on preparing our businesses for the other side of this pandemic — and beyond.


To understand your new environment, small businesses need to look at their new data – anything before March 2020 is old, by the way. Try to understand the economy, your industry, your market and accelerating and emerging trends now. Read. NPR’s Marketplace and McKinsey as well as the other large consultancy firms are doing interesting reports about the new environment, Madrinan said. Next you look at the opportunities and threats for your business in this new environment.

Go to your previous clients and ask them what their new needs are and how you can help them. If you are a B2B business, try to also understand your clients’ clients’ pains and gains “and that will open you to a whole new world,” Madrinan said. “We really need to understand the whole chain.” As you are thinking about what you can offer to your clients to meet their new needs, this is the moment to leverage your strengths and turn your weaknesses into strengths, she says.

Identify the Invention Gap. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses as well as what your customers need now, you can look at what you can offer. Don’t waste your time on offerings that are not meeting the new needs. But if you have weaknesses in delivering, you will have to build capabilities that you are missing but only if they are related to the new needs, Madrinan advises.

Rethink and rewrite your value proposition. Your new value proposition needs to meet the new client needs.

Next, fine tune your re-invention. This is not a tweak – dig deep. There are 10 places where reinvention can take us to the other side, from rethinking your profit model, to operating efficiencies to improving your customer’s experience, to your branding:



Create an action plan, Madrinan said. During COVID times, do an action plan for three months out, rather than a year. Identify the obstacles that are blocking you from getting to the next level and come up with three actions to get there for each. Or you can break down your action steps by months. Review your plan at least weekly.

Resilience and agility are your biggest strengths and that is what is going to take you to the other side, she said. And there is a silver lining.

“We have been given a second chance to create the best version of our businesses … Let’s use it well,” Madrinan said during a webinar for Florida SBDC at FIU. She also encouraged businesses to seek the free services of Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center with the university’s College of Business. “We at SBDC are here for you.”

To begin identifying the trends that will be define the new normal, Madrinan talks about some key ones identified by Accenture.


The cost for confidence is high right now. People are postponing purchases and valuing the familiar, for instance. Ask yourself how could your product and services bring confidence – and perhaps just as important, how do you communicate that confidence?

The virtual revolution is another trend. We are connecting and communicating and completely different ways, closing some doors but opening others. Small businesses should look at which assets of their business can be activated for virtual usage, including your channel strategy, your virtual collaboration and your customer connections. This was a trend that was coming but has been accelerated by COVID. Still other trends are the importance of home and health/wellbeing.

The way to lead is changing, too, in the new normal. Purpose, values and empathy are key. In every reinvention, define your crisis purpose, define your operational metrics, and look for the win-win situations. Social responsibility will become central to all organizations, Madrinan believes.

The new normal is becoming the normal and the action steps to all of this are clear: Listen to your customers, make your pivots, learn from your customers, and assess, assess, assess.

There is much more to learn. Listen to Madrinan’s webinar here.

Further reading recommended by Madrinan: From thinking about the next normal to making it work: What to stop, start, and accelerate, by McKinsey.

So let’s get started. And please let us know who your reinvention is going.

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