BY Chris Carosa, Senior Contributor
Mar 26, 2020,11:07am EDT
America has not seen this kind of massive national mobilization since World War II. You might have thought that particular America was long past, but today’s events prove we can still be a united nation. As the old saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
And America is one tough nation.
Look at the many manufacturing companies instantly retooling. Three-quarters of a century ago it was to make bombers and tanks. Today it’s to make ventilators and masks.
Pharmaceutical companies have stepped up to accelerate the mass production and distribution of promising drugs that have been shown to successfully fight COVID-19.
Beyond companies coming together for the greater community, you’re seeing something within you that bodes well for your future. It’s a form of resiliency that causes you to adapt to the times. And these times they are a-changin’.
From this point forward, you are discovering new ways to work, new ways to spend and new ways to live your life. For some, this means realizing opportunities long held dormant. For others, it’s recognizing you never really wanted to do those things you said you never had time for.
If you’re on your toes, you may just find yourself catching a new wave that will propel your future. Every paradigm shift—and there’s no denying we’re in the midst of one now—brings with it new business and investment opportunities. Are you prepared to seize the day?
“Potential new businesses will spring up and/or benefit as a result of COVID-19,” says Alano Massi, Managing Director at Palm Capital Management, LLC in Westlake Village, California. “These could be in the industries of home and personal sanitation, video and wireless communication, streaming media content, and gaming.”
The five areas below demonstrate exactly where you will begin (or have already begun) doing things differently. Can you see the ways you will save, earn and make money in the future?
With a flick of the switch, you went from being shackled in a cubicle farm to becoming a free-range worker. All the old rules collapsed into the matrix of bits and bytes that now govern your work day. How do you cope? How does your company survive?
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” says Michael Gerstman, CEO of the Dallas-based financial planning firm, Gerstman Financial Group, LLC. “Video conference related businesses will see massive growth as Americans are forced to find a new way to do business.”
It didn’t take long for people to realize this and it won’t take companies long to see the benefit. “Early winners seem to be the cloud and online everything: teleconference, video, Zoom, among others,” says David S. Richmond, Chairman & Co-Owner at Richmond Brothers, Inc. in Jackson, Michigan. “Companies will learn it is cheaper to have employees work from home and may shift to that full term.”
Depending on the business, the cost savings associated with utilizing a remote workforce may forever change the way you work. In the future, companies will need to offer remote work in order to compete for the best employees. Imagine how this will change the world around you.
“More companies and people realize the flexibility and benefits of working remotely,” says Lacey Cobb, Director of Advice Solutions at Personal Capital in San Francisco. “Many businesses already do this, but with the drastic shift to fully remote work, businesses will want to align to be nimble for the future. Now that it has been forced on many companies and they see they can do it, they may choose remote meetings over business travel to save on cost. As a result, there could be a surge in company spending to ramp up virtual infrastructure and individuals investing in a more sustainable home office. Expect these shifts to really accelerate the race to 5G.”
Do you know what you need to do to work from home most effectively? Does your company know what kind of employees it needs to hire in order to maintain a productive remote workforce? Who will take the lead in answering these questions?
Kelly Crane, President & Chief Investment Officer at Napa Valley Wealth Management in Saint Helena, California, believes there will be a blossoming issue around “staffing of remote employees, especially for small and mid-sized companies. While companies can find their own virtual employees or freelancers, the recruiting and due diligence can be time intensive. There aren’t many service providers that act as a staffing agency to help companies find virtual freelance or virtual employees.”
These work changes will negatively impact several industries. Commercial real estate, diners and other retail outlets that cater to the lunch-time worker will find their markets diminish.
They won’t be the only trades to suffer. Without adapting to the new standards, the airline and hospitality industries may find more empty seats and empty rooms. The era of the destination trade conference may be over. We’re already seeing the alternative taking off.
“Video conferencing will grow exponentially as a result of mandatory adoption during this lockdown,” says Jeff Mount, President of Real Intelligence LLC in Fairfield, Connecticut. “Although it has been available to all of us for some time, the adoption rate will grow out of necessity, and many people will recognize how easy it is to use, and the efficiencies that can contribute to daily work life even during normal times. Look for this service to become part of the business plan for a lot of companies who would otherwise spend big bucks on moving employees via expensive travel and hotel accommodations.”
You turn on your TV and something seems missing. It is. It’s live sports. You’re stuck watching decades-old games wondering “was my hair that long, too?”
But if you’re a little more adventurous, you might wander to YouTube and find current sports. Only it doesn’t involve people. It features marbles. Marbles that race around a track. The marbles belong to teams. They have names. It’s downright exciting. And no marbles are ever harmed in the filming of the race.
Marble racing is just one example of a new form of sport. There are many others. You may have even played them. And they may represent the future of play.
“As the supply of real-world sporting entertainment dries up, more people will turn to playing and watching e-sports,” says Jacob Wedderburn-Day, CEO of Stasher in London, England. “The moment mainstream media begins offering coverage of e-sports, its popularity will skyrocket because there will be limited alternatives available. If this happens, its popularity will survive the crisis, as more coverage leads to more investment which leads to more talent in a virtuous cycle.”
Did you ever think of yourself as a teacher? Not simply a “mentor” at work, but a real-life elementary school teacher.
If you have school-age children, you may have just become a teacher. It’s not a big deal. Parents have played the role for centuries. Only recently have most parents off-loaded that task to third parties.
What do you do if you need to become a teacher and you’ve never had the training? Where do you find the tools? What offers the quickest learning curve?
You may find a common thread in all these areas.
“We will see an acceleration of digital in areas that have lagged,” says Rhian Horgan, CEO at Kindur in New York City. “One area I’m experiencing personally is remote learning. With two young children ‘home schooling,’ it’s been fascinating to see how foundational technology that we use in the office, like Zoom, is being embraced by the education industry. And there is a surprising amount of very high-quality educational content available online.”
Just like with your job, enormous efficiencies exist in the realm of remote education. While there are companies offering services in this field now, the market is small. In an instant, that market has exploded.
This market isn’t limited to formal schooling. Casual education, done only for self-edification, will also expand. Why go to the museum when the museum can come to you? And what does that mean in terms of the way museums share services and raise money?
“Distance learning will gain more traction and even more new companies will spring up in this sector,” says Katharine Earhart, Partner & Co-Founder of Fairlight Advisors in San Francisco. “Online fundraising event companies, online conference developers and unique content creators & marketers will gain traction for nonprofits as more organizations realize they can reach more people and lower costs through these types of experiences. As will VR companies who can ‘show’ donors the impact of their donations on a specific community or group of people without requiring an in-person visit.”
Speaking of money, when was the last time you were in a book store? It took decades for the Amazon model to fully replace the traditional retail establishment. Remember how you insisted you had to browse through your favorite section before deciding which book to buy?
You don’t do that anymore. At least not in a physical setting. Now think about how social distancing impacts the way you shop for anything.
“I see a lot of innovation going on right now. Delivery services are booming,” says Jennifer Wallis, Senior Marketing Vice President at Retirement Investment Advisors in Oklahoma City. “While we’ve been connected online for a while, we are finding more ways to feel connected while being apart. Tech companies that sell computers, streaming services, and work-at-home software are all incredibly popular right now because many companies were not previously set-up with remote capabilities but now need to be.”
Most immediately, we’re seeing the benefit of this in the grocery model. It may not be quite perfect yet, but the times allow for some imperfection in exchange for safety.
Dr. Guy Baker, founder of Wealth Teams Alliance in Irvine, California, sees a renewed interest in home delivery food service. “There is nothing to say this won’t happen again. If food delivery can be made efficient and cost effective, the aging population and two income families could gravitate towards a better food delivery model.”
When it comes to spending, people will pay anything for their health. You may pay more attention to doing what you can for yourself, but the real change will happen with what you expect others to do.
“There’s no doubt that emergency preparedness will be a renewed priority for our country,” says Jose Cuevas, Vice President and Director of Financial Planning for Wisdom Investments in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. “My expectation would include increased funding to medical technologies to ensure that our country is better equipped for a future crisis.”
What if you can obtain your health services with the same ease and swiftness as you get your books? You’d like that. You’re not alone. “Telemedicine will see significant growth,” says Brian Berkenhoff, Owner and Financial Advisor at Birch Investment Management in Brookings, South Dakota. “Consumers will demand the ability to avoid waiting rooms for routine questions and exams.”
If you think you’re sick, you want to know right away what you have and what you need to do to get better. This becomes more important during pandemics. What does this portend for the future?
“There will likely be a boon in rapid testing for various illnesses,” says Boston, Massachusetts based Doug Butler, Senior Vice President & Director of Research Services at Rockland Trust. “As the world focuses on solving both the testing for and alleviating/curing COVID-19, there will be many ancillary benefits in terms of drug discovery and disease detection that will hopefully improve global health after COVID-19 peters out.”
A lot is changing quickly. Unknown demands arise every day. These aren’t mere epicurean wants, they are pragmatic needs. They aren’t just mousetraps, they’re better mousetraps.
They will change the way you do business and the way businesses deliver their products and services to you.
“Anyone that is developing solutions that allow business to be conducted as seamlessly from a distance as it is face to face will find themselves rewarded handsomely,” says Michael Poutre, Managing Partner, Terraform Capital in Westlake Village, California. “Certainly, there are many entities in the biomedical and spread prevention categories that will thrive in this moment. Whoever can identify and service the ‘New Normal’ (once we determine what that is) will flourish.”