Air Date

June 10, 2020

Featured Guest

H.E. Hakainde Hichilema
President, Zambia


Jeanette Mulvey
Vice President and Editor-in-Chief, CO—


The “new normal” is a breakout figure of speech heard dozens of times in conversations starting in March 2020, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and business owners realized there was no going back to the “way it was before.”

Instead, leaders began to carve new paths and navigate what organizational practices look like in a world full of masks, social distancing, and vaccines. However, this “new normal” provides a unique opportunity for businesses to design their own path forward as they reopen during and after the pandemic.

Entrepreneurs Can Shape Their Own ‘New Normal’ When They Reopen

Michelle Sourie Robinson, president and CEO of Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, believes businesses should be ready for a new normal and not looking for “when do we just get back to the ring.”

“The reality is normal for us is going to look very different,” Robinson explained. “The benefit though … is that you get to shape that normalcy. “Not only do you have to make sure your employees have a level of comfort, but if you're B2B or B2C in particular, you have to make sure your customers are also comfortable. That for us gives us a whole new realm where you can look at digitization.”

Digitization Can Help Businesses Achieve New Goals

With the majority of households readily supporting organizations in their communities, businesses should turn to their customers and employees when developing their day-to-day practices moving forward.

“As you shape the normal and listen to what your customers are saying, listen to what your employees are saying as to their level of readiness, then you can now define [how to move forward],” said Robinson. “If I were a small business retailer right now … it would be all about digitization. I would bring my team back and [talk to them] — how do we have an online store that makes everything available? Do we have a pickup category?”

Some businesses, like one restaurant in Robinson’s hometown, aren’t utilizing readily available resources, such as widely-used delivery apps. Instead, they’re letting their employees deliver locally. That’s just one example of ways businesses can pivot from what they’re used to, to the new wave of how they can successfully do business while keeping employees and customers happy.

“As we define the new normal, look for the items and categories in your business [that] you've always wanted to explore but the market wouldn't really allow it,” said Robinson. “Now is the time to do that.”

From the Series

CO— Blueprint