Covid changed everyone’s lives dramatically on many levels – but small and big businesses were radically impacted, from shutting down events, restaurants, and retail to sending everyone home to work remotely.

It’s no surprise that the tech sector thrived from remote work solutions to online ordering, telemedicine, virtual events, and more during this time. Good or bad, a LOT of these changes are here to stay.

1. Cyber security protection to avoid or at least mitigate losses. Warren Buffet is famous for his two rules of investing and making money: Rule #1: Don’t lose money. Rule #2: Never forget Rule #1.

While nobody likes to spend money on cyber security, the simple fact of the matter is that if you don’t, or if you underinvest in adequate protections, you WILL lose money in your business, either from it being taken from your bank account or from the vast number of costs associated with a breach that most people grossly underestimate.

Cybercriminals undoubtedly went gangbusters during the lockdowns when millions of people were forced to work remotely using unsecured home WiFi, laptops, and cell phones. The Trend Micro Annual Cybersecurity Report saw a whopping 16 million threats related to Covid-19 in 2020 alone. In addition, business Wire recently reported that 81% of global organizations experienced increased cyber threats, and 79% experienced downtime due to a cyber security risk. These threats are continually getting more aggressive, frequent, and damaging, so you must have the plan to ensure you’re not robbed blind and taken out. Click here to schedule a quick 10-minute call to see how vulnerable you are.

2. Using tech to get more efficient with fewer employees. Since 2010, the US unemployment rate has been steadily declining, from nearly 10% to under 3% at the start of 2020. Covid shutdowns temporarily covered up this shortage, with thousands being laid off. Still, now that life is back to “normal” (whatever this new normal is), the labor shortage has crippled many businesses that are now trying to reopen but can’t operate at total capacity, not only due to an inability to find and keep good people but also because of the cost of hiring with salary demands increasing.

This is forcing many organizations to implement automated systems, as well as artificial intelligence to replace workers, like grocery store checkout lines being limited to only two or three open, driving customers to use self-checkout, or companies switching to AI-driven chatbots, text messages, and phone systems to handle the initial customer requests, lowering the need for paid employees.

Another area many businesses focus on is getting more productivity from every employee using tech and automation. For example, many sales departments are using dialers, CRM, and marketing automation systems to get a single rep to be far more productive, generating more sales by removing or reducing manual labor tasks and “paperwork” that fills hours of any sales rep’s day.

And finally, another growing area of focus is ensuring employees’ productivity. This has become a hot topic since the shutdowns sent so many people home to work, and many people now ONLY want remote work. The pThe problem is that many employees lack the personal discipline and productive environment to work distraction-free, making them far less effective than if they came into an office.

To combat this, some businesses are utilizing productivity-monitoring software like ActivTrak or Teramind to know how much time employees are away from their computers or surfing social media and other non-work-related sites. Doing this lets the employer know if any employee is genuinely “overworked” or barely putting in an eight-hour day. Click here to schedule a quick call to discuss this software for your business.

3. Online ordering and fulfillment. At an event in our industry, Marcus Lemonis, the star of the hit TV show The Profit and CEO of the billion-dollar brands Camping World and Good Sam, shared how Camping World frantically transitioned his retail stores to online ordering, shipping, and drive-by pickup to enable his customers to keep buying when the stores were physically shut down. So again, an investment paid off in the short term and expanded the company’s ability to generate sales and fuel customer spending and loyalty.

Many restaurants started or enhanced online ordering during the lockdowns, some becoming pickup-only establishments with no indoor seating, decreasing the need for more employees while continuing to generate sales. They also started (and many have kept) ordering using a QR code, eliminating paper menus, and facilitating ordering and payment. In addition, some have gotten into the business of preassembled cook-from-home boxes, like Middlebury Pizzeria, which sells mini pizza kits you make and bake at home, opening a new revenue stream they didn’t have pre-pandemic.

A good question is how to add digital or online ordering and fulfillment to your organization. Maybe it’s time to go paperless and collect all payments with credit cards or other digital payment systems, eliminating paper invoices and many of your collection problems. Many medical companies are now storing clients’ credit cards and bank information. Of course, this opens up another door for cyber security problems and compliance issues, but the payoff can be huge.

You can schedule a quick 10-minute call to discuss your ideas for going digital for payments and order fulfillment.