4 Key Trends for Retail Entrepreneurs in 2021

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The current global health crisis has fundamentally changed the retail world. Businesses of all sizes are struggling to keep up with dramatic changes in day-to-day operations and to anticipate what is next. Consumer spending has rebounded to more than 90% of pre-pandemic levels in the US, according to Opportunity Insights, but it is being directed to different areas. Outlays for restaurants, hotels and transportation are way down, while grocery and home entertainment are up. Total retail spending for the week ending November 1 was about 8% higher than in January.  

In this disruption, opportunities exist for entrepreneurs. Consumers are behaving differently and retailers are racing to adapt through digital transformation and by diversifying their partners in order to satisfy new consumer demands. Four trends have emerged that are important for businesses who want to succeed in retail now and beyond Covid-19’s driving influence.

1. Decreasing physical space, increasing product assortment

Over the past year, retail’s physical presence has morphed into new shapes, sizes and experiences. More stores have become fulfillment centers, investments in large physical formats have decreased, and retailers have become more focused on niche products and local suppliers that shorten their supply chains. Many retailers are looking for new partners to increase product assortment or fill a demand exposed by the pandemic, such as masks, partitions and other items that consumers now can’t live without.  

Manufacturers and suppliers who want to partner successfully with retailers should be aware of retailer requirements for detailed and accurate product information. This data plays a key role in ensuring the right product is available at precisely the time the consumer needs it. Nearly 70% of consumers said a lack of product information is the top reason they’ve abandoned a product page, according to research from Salsify. 

Related: 7 Low-Cost Design Ideas for Small Retail Spaces

2. More urgency for consumer insights

The current state of flux in retail is also an opportunity for technology startups that support access to shopper insights and analytics. There is a greater sense of urgency to understand and anticipate consumer interactions with products. Every in-person interaction, because there may be fewer of them, needs to count and serve the purpose of engaging the consumer long term.

Startups like Adrich, which provides real-time product use analytics, are helping retailers and brands strengthen relationships with consumers. It developed a thin, flexible sensor that is attached behind a product’s regular label, creating a feedback loop for brands and retailers to track consumer interactions with the product via the cloud and Bluetooth. Retailers will know when and how consumers use various products, which can help with inventory planning, merchandising and localized promotions.

3. New ways to try products

Augmented reality (AR) technology can support “try-before-you-buy” experiences, which will become more commonplace. Right now, consumers prefer less contact with people, and products that others may have touched. While there is no doubt more consumers will return to stores as health protocols relax, there will also be a lasting increase in online shopping. A Salesforce survey in May found that a majority of people across income brackets expect to do more online shopping in the future, including 71% of high-income earners.  

AR was already showing signs of growth prior to the pandemic, and it offers solutions to today’s retail challenges. According to a 2019 Nielsen survey, about half of consumers are willing to use AR to assess products. As a result of the pandemic, brands in jewelry, designer fashion and footwear are offering new virtual try-ons or seeing growth in existing apps that help customers shop from home or more safely in store. Ulta’s GLAMlab launched in 2016, but usage quadrupled in recent months as the virtual try-on app became an important part of re-opening stores, where customers could no longer test makeup before purchase.

What could make or break the maturation of AR is the still-rampant occurrence of incomplete and inaccurate data that filters through retailer systems. For a virtual product experience to yield successful results for retailers, product information must be standardized to ensure it smoothly flows between physical to digital worlds. Not only will retailers lose time and resources trying to track down the information during the setup phase, consumer trust will break down if key product attributes are missing or unavailable when they test out new technology offerings. Entrepreneurs can expect continued demand for solutions that address these data challenges and help retailers create digital product experiences for customers who cannot sample physical products.

Related: Why Warren Buffet Might be Wrong About Retail

4. Growth in sustainability and transparency

Shoppers around the world feel more connected to one another as a result of the pandemic’s shared experience, and there has been a rise in conscious consumption and a desire to buy more locally, according to Accenture. Many retailers are launching sustainability initiatives and taking another look at the environmental impact of their supply chains. In May, Walmart announced a partnership with clothing re-seller ThredUP, which combines Walmart’s interest in sustainability with the need to address tightening budgets among consumers hit hard by the pandemic recession.

Along with the increased interest in reuse, more consumers want to understand the origins of products and how they were made. This kind of transparency requires brands, retailers and online marketplaces to align their requirements for unique product identification. For example, obtaining authentic barcodes and identification numbers should be considered an essential part of the product launch for small brands that have a viable chance to reach a wider audience.

COVID-19 has created an inflection point in consumer behavior. Despite the difficulties they face today, small brands and entrepreneurs can view this as an opportunity. Their courage in navigating uncharted territory is more vital than ever for the retail sector. Successful collaborations will need to innovate at speed while keeping in mind the immovable rules of engagement for retail around data standardization, completeness and accuracy.

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Jobs: New demand-driven scheme in the works to create more entrepreneurs

New Delhi: The government is readying a scheme to help create entrepreneurs and handhold young enterprises that are struggling, as it foresees the Covid pandemic taking a toll on the job market. The plan is to train more than 300,000 youth to become entrepreneurs over the next five years, facilitate loans to them and connect them to appropriate markets. These entrepreneurs could also become job providers. The draft of the scheme, PM Udyam Mitra

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African-American businesses – Serious help may be on the way for America’s black entrepreneurs | United States

BLACK ENTREPRENEURS face a mighty struggle. African-Americans make up about 13% of the country’s population but only 2% of its business-owners. Their firms earn just 0.3% of total business receipts. Minority-owned businesses are less profitable than comparable white-owned firms, and have much higher rates of failure.

The pandemic has hit these firms especially hard. Black-owned firms were nearly twice as likely to shut down (by August, over two-fifths had done so) because of covid-19 as small firms overall. Emergency aid often did not reach them, in part because the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not direct banks to prioritise lending to such firms as Congress intended.

Black entrepreneurs may now have two reasons for cheer. One is top-down. Past efforts by the federal government to boost minority enterprises, a mix of loan guarantees and quota schemes, have fallen short. A recent analysis by McKinsey, a consultancy, notes that although the SBA awarded some $2.3bn in federal contracts and backed about $210m in loans for disadvantaged businesses in 2019, these schemes were “often imperfectly implemented”.

The incoming administration is promising a big revamp. Joe Biden vows to fund such firms to retain and rehire workers. After the pandemic, he wants to expand training, small-business incubators and innovation hubs for “black and brown entrepreneurs”. He also promises to create a $30bn Small Business Opportunity Fund and to direct additional billions to minority firms.

But the playing field for black entrepreneurs is not level, argues Dana Peterson of the Conference Board, a business-research firm: access to credit is “too often determined by the colour of the skin”. Black households have just a tenth the assets of white ones. In addition, notes Katherine Klein of the Wharton School, they tend to have lower credit scores. Black female entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of all venture capital.

So even a tenfold increase in government funding would not solve the problem, argues Shelley Stewart of McKinsey, without bottom-up fixes too. That points to the second reason for cheer. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, corporate titans have made big commitments to boost black businesses. JPMorgan Chase, a banking Goliath, says it will pour $30bn over five years into boosting black and Latino households and businesses. Citi, another giant bank, vows to take on “the racial wealth gap” with a $1bn pledge.

Sceptics worry this will prove mere “race-washing” and that Mr Biden’s efforts will get mired in red tape. But if they do take off, then black entrepreneurs might at last have a fighting chance. If they could achieve revenue parity with comparable white-owned businesses, McKinsey reckons, it would boost their business equity by $290bn.

Dig deeper:
Read our latest coverage of the presidential transition, and then sign up for Checks and Balance, our weekly newsletter and podcast on American politics.

This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Capital punishment”

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Pride and prejudice – How Germany’s guest workers become guest entrepreneurs | Business

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The importance of resilience for entrepreneurs

Covid-19 has brought many challenges to all kinds of industries and professions. Many were concerned about the effect on young entrepreneurs across the nation – what would happen to the UK’s thriving start-up scene in the likes of Manchester, London, Exeter and Bristol?

As Paul Beach, Head of Executives and Entrepreneurs, Private Banking at Arbuthnot Latham explains a mandated ‘remote’ working style, rapidly changing consumer habits and tightened purse strings created a new and unknown business landscape. These shifts began in Lockdown 1.0 and will only become more entrenched as we move through 2.0. Would young entrepreneurs be squeezed out of the industry? We hoped not.

I’ve seen first-hand that the entrepreneurial spirit is still very much alive and kicking from my work with start-ups from The Business School (formerly Cass Business School) and City, University of London. Every November, we celebrate young entrepreneurs at the Inspiring Innovator awards and this year’s entries are as innovative as ever! But I’ve seen new trends emerge, with this year’s finalists quickly adapting. And it’s not just new businesses, established start-ups connected to The Business School such as Twipes and Mash Paddle Brewery have continued to evolve to compete on the world stage. The UK’s home-grown entrepreneurial talent is more motivated than ever.

Entrepreneurs are adapting quicker than ever

Entrepreneurs can spend years strategising before executing a business plan. The outbreak of Covid-19 caused dramatic and unexpected disruption. But the UK’s new homegrown entrepreneurs are resilient by nature. Faced with cancelled exams, postponed lessons, virtual university courses and suspended internships, the route for young people looking to start a business has never been less certain. Vital networking opportunities were moved online, with many young people missing out on those critical ‘watercooler’ moments.

It is a testament to the resilience and strength of the UK’s young people, that our Gen Z entrepreneurs are continuing to build and grow. One example is EMenuNow which is a start-up offering a ‘plug & play’ contactless ordering and payments service. By quickly taking stock of the new ‘post Covid-19’ world, entrepreneurs like EMenuNow have been able to quickly innovate to solve new problems.

DeepReel is another business that has risen to the challenge of COVID, leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to automate the process of voice dubbing. With a huge increase in virtual and online interactions due to COVID, DeepReel taps into a key trend that is only set to increase. For an entrepreneur, there are always new opportunities ready to be grasped with both hands.

Sustainability and social wellbeing are top of the agenda

In challenging times, concerns around sustainability and social wellbeing can often fall by the wayside. But throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen these issues rise to the top of the agenda and have been ready to assist where we can. Many have accelerated plans and social entrepreneurship is thriving. One great example is a start-up called Leiho, a social enterprise focused on improving the quality of life of the UK’s homeless population.

We’ve also seen an influx of wellbeing apps. The lines between work and personal life have blurred; many entrepreneurs are now acutely aware of the challenges and importance of personal wellbeing. This is mirrored in the mission of many entrepreneurs – gone are the days of ‘get rich quick’ strategies. Start-ups want sustainable and long-term value to be proud of.

Camaraderie across the entrepreneur eco-system is strong

There is a strong sense of camaraderie amongst young entrepreneurs and a willingness to help mentor and encourage. This collaborative eco-system is rapidly developing across ‘Gen Z’ and will continue to grow. Working from home has broken down boundaries between the workplace and personal life. In many cases, this has led to the creation of stronger relationships between colleagues and business partners.

Businesses such as WealthAware, a platform that brings transparency to retail investing, have continued to engage with virtual networking forums. These forums create a vital space for entrepreneurs to share expertise and learnings.

Post Covid-19 entrepreneurs are physically agile

Remote working and social distancing restrictions challenged the well-worn business model of many companies. Pubs, bars and restaurants that were viable and popular pre-Covid-19 have had to adapt. Start-up Mash Paddle Brewery, whose founders attended The Business School, had a strategy built around a physical location. Rather than accept defeat, the business pivoted and looked to find opportunities. The Mash Paddle Brewery found that rents in prime locations were now lower due to a decline in footfall, managing to secure an in demand location that would have been previously out of reach.

Many businesses are now buying locally and engaging with artisans at a scale not seen for years. Companies such as Inspiring Innovator alumni Twipes, the disposable wet wipes brand, successfully localised their supply chain in response to manufacturing disruption from COVID-19. Start-ups are also encouraging workforce agility. With the closure of borders many businesses had to quickly adapt to a globally dispersed workforce. Physical office space is no longer a priority, with entrepreneurs instead looking to hybrid workplace ‘hubs.’ This mobility is empowering the global start-up community to truly collaborate, but also increases the need for a strong network and counsel.

The UK’s young entrepreneurs are innovative and dynamic. We’ve seen and helped start-ups quickly pivot and adapt to the ‘new normal.’ Despite huge obstacles, and the recent introduction of a national lockdown, young people are more focused than ever on sustainability and wellbeing. This translates to how entrepreneurs are engaging with each other, as we see and facilitate deep collaboration and knowledge sharing. There is no longer a need to be ‘physically’ together and businesses are being agile in their approach to branch locations and office space. In the face of uncertainty and challenges, the resilience factor is stronger than ever.

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Blown off course – China takes aim at its entrepreneurs | Business

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Why entrepreneurs always need a “side hustle”

The next time you meet an entrepreneur, don’t talk shop.
Instead, my recommendation is to ask a question like, “What do you do when you’re not running
your business?” The answer could very well give you a better insight into what makes
an entrepreneur and their ventures successful than what they do in their
business alone.

Not only can an entrepreneur’s side hustle or other project tell you about what they’re interested in and passionate about outside of their current venture, but it can also reveal the additional skills they’re acquiring or the network they’re building beyond their primary focus.

Of course, not every side hustle eventually
becomes a fully-fledged business – that’s not the goal. But many of these projects provide
value in other ways, whether that’s skills, knowledge or experience, a chance to
test ideas, or an opportunity to connect with certain people.


I highly recommend undertaking some kind of education
in a field you’re interested in. It need not be a business course, nor anything to
do with the industry your business is in, just something that you think you’d like to learn
more about – it could be photography or learning to play the piano or becoming
a wine sommelier.

Educating yourself in this manner puts you in a
position to learn and when you’re in learning mode you see things differently.
You put your ego aside and ask questions, you do research, you seek advice from
experts. You’ll find that you start to see your business slightly differently.
Meanwhile, you pick up different skills. These might not be directly applicable
to your business, but they can often complement your skillset or help you
understand different concepts that work to expand your way of thinking.

If you want to strengthen your business education or do further education in relation to your industry, you can definitely go down that path by reading more books, doing short courses or even degrees. For me, I became a scholar at The Marketing Academy Program in 2017, which taught me a wealth of knowledge about the industry and hugely benefited my career for the long run.

Taking passion to the next

Another way to devote yourself to something
outside your business is to find ways to serve your passion. Some people
volunteer for organisations they like or become advocates for causes. Along the
way you meet people who share that passion and you may acquire skills and
experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to obtain in your business alone.

In 2011, I met the then president of the club and asked what he was doing for the younger professional market. There was nothing for that demographic so I proposed a supporters network, Essendon Emerging Leaders (now called the Essendon Executive Club). The target was people who were passionate about the club who were building their careers. We put on networking and fundraising events with amazing speakers with the view that these supporters would become future sponsors of the club.

Side hustles and projects external to your
business may never come to fruition as independent ventures, but they are
rarely a waste of time. Along the way you’re not only indulging in something you’re passionate
about, taking you beyond your immediate business,  but also building new skills and networks
that may turn out to be helpful in your business later on. Don’t think of your
side hustle as a being of direct benefit to your business but as an investment
in experience for your lifelong success as an entrepreneur.

Simon Davies, Founder and CEO, Bastion Brands

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3 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Stay Visible During the Pandemic

The world may not be back to normal yet, but you can still grow your business – and your personal brand.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As an , you need to be your own cheerleader. Many entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of hiring or public relations teams. Staying top of mind was easier pre-pandemic when we were able to go to events and conferences and meet with regularly in person. Even though things have started to open up in limited ways around the country, it will be a long time before they will be back to pre-covid routines. Additionally, people have varying comfort levels with meeting in person now and it is important to be respectful of those levels. However, there are still things that you can do right now to ensure that you stay visible and grow your . Here are my top 3 tips:


1. Embrace virtual speaking

Put together a wish list of companies or organizations that will reach your market. Once you have that list, begin to contact them and offer to do a virtual talk, webinar, Q & A, or Live. If you offer speaking services like I do, make sure you are not simply giving away your services. Be strategic and only offer your services when there is a potential win for you as well. After the event, request a recommendation while your performance is fresh and the recommendation can be detailed and personal. If you have a different type of business, offer a freebie or discount to your or an enticement to join your mailing list. 

Related: What Visibility Means in Business and Why You Shouldn’t Fear It


2. Create your own PR

Spend time pitching yourself to print and television media. Start locally. Do your research to determine who is covering a particular beat or subject so that you can pitch the right person. Look at editorial calendars where available. Additionally, make sure you are thinking about an angle that would be timely to cover. For example, did you have to pivot your business during the pandemic? That is a timely topic right now for a lot of media outlets. Finally, be sure to subscribe to a free service called HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to receive daily inquiries in your inbox from reporters working on stories. You never know where you might be able to get quoted. 

Related: A PR Checklist For Entrepreneurs Dealing With The COVID-19 Crisis


3. Be a connector

It is a tough time right now and there is a lot of isolation and loneliness. Be someone that curates bringing others together for a virtual activity or event. A great idea would be virtual networking with the upcoming holiday season. For example, writing holiday cards to the military or adopting a family for gift giving. Continue to make virtual introductions by checking in with your network to discuss their challenges and who they are looking to meet. Recently one of my clients expressed that she is interested in working for a company that I previously worked for. I am in a unique position to make a warm introduction and direct her to the right people there. This “networking karma” you build up will always come back to you. Remember, your reputation is what people say about you when you are not in the room.

Like anything else, visibility is also about consistency. Do at least one small thing each day to move your business forward, even if it is simply a post on . The consistency applies to content as well. You do not just want to be visible, you want to be visible in a few niche areas where people consider you an expert or thought leader. And remember, right now growing your is in your hands, so you want to create a climate where you stay visible even if you are not leaving your house. 

Related: How Networking and Relationships Propel Entrepreneurs to Succeed


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5 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Better Serve Their Potential Customers

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If McKinsey & Company insights from July are any indication, consumers have rediscovered their power in the pandemic. Due to a combination of product shortages, economic and job concerns, along with a general willingness to change their purchasing behaviors, 75 percent of shoppers say they’ve behaved differently since coronavirus began spreading. In many cases, their new purchasing habits have led to exposure to unfamiliar brands.

This is a huge boon, especially for entrepreneurs trying to disrupt a market or industry. Under ordinary circumstances, getting consumers to move away from their favorite companies’ products and services can be challenging. However, with so much general uncertainty in the world, customers have become increasingly open-minded about giving untested organizations a chance to wow them.

If your startup or small business hasn’t been ocusing on , the time couldn’t be better to put on a huge customer-centric push. However, you need to make sure you have the infrastructure, protocols and tools to be certain that your ’s first impression is nothing short of powerfully awesome.

Below are a few ways to up your game when it comes to serving current and prospective patrons.

1. Leverage tech to ensure your sales time is nimble and responsive

Your sales team can’t afford to drop the ball anywhere or any time, particularly when customers are moving so freely from one product to the next. Mixmax, a sales engagement tool, boasts the time management benefits of utilizing key sales tools which can help your sales team focus less on tedious tasks and more on prospecting. Ensure they have the resources they need to carry customers from lead generation to conversion by investing in the best tech stack for your needs and goals.

What type of solutions might make sense? If you’re focused on improving the responsiveness of your salespeople no matter if they’re working from home or the office, you might opt for higher-end telephone and videoconferencing software that integrates most forms of visual and audio . On the other hand, maybe you want to streamline the information your prospective customers receive. In that case, you may be more interested in adding a secure contract management system into your toolkit.

Related: How the Sales Process Has Drastically Evolved to Fit the Future

2. Centralize knowledge so anyone can be a customer-service star

Nothing frustrates customers quite as much as not being able to get quick answers to their questions. A fast way to ensure that anyone in your business can solve a client’s issues is to establish a centralized knowledge-management database that can be housed on your intranet or another piece of cloud-based software. You may even want to include a corporate wiki so employees can find any information with only one login.

By giving everyone on your team access to customer information such as buying history, touchpoints and other data, you avoid having to bounce consumers between service representatives. Centralized knowledge-management systems can also be invaluable if you’ve moved some or all of your workforce remote. 

3. Channel your inner Nostradamus and foretell customer questions

You want to make finding answers to potential questions as easy as possible for customers. In fact, according to Drift’s 2020 State of Conversational Marketing Report, 34 percent of consumers cite not being able to find the information they need online as their highest customer-service snag. Rather than forcing would-be buyers to hunt around for the solutions they want, begin peppering your site with rich content that gives them the insight they crave. It’s appealing to a lot of customers to be able to solve their own problems, and they’ll appreciate finding answers fast.

What should your content look like? Ideally, you should have a variety of content FAQs on your website. The content can take the shape of videos, written copy, images, blueprints, schematics, how-to charts or even GIFs. Whatever you feel will be helpful needs to have a home on your site. Of course, you may want a more traditional page dedicated to the biggest FAQs your sales folks and customer experience (CX) personnel hear. Just make sure your FAQs stay up-to-date and don’t become stale or irrelevant.

Related: 5 Tips to Help You Create Great Content While Working From Home

4. Stay alert on social media

Spend a little time social listening, and you may just figure out exactly what your customers want. And you’ll be in good company: More than half of companies are currently using social media listening to get real-time consumer information. To be sure, many customers will talk about what they didn’t enjoy about a CX. However, their honesty is exactly what you need to hear and read. Add social listening to your sales and marketing plan today. That way, you can respond quickly if you notice that a customer is unhappy with you or, better yet, with a competitor.

For example, you might discover a critical review of your latest gadgetry on . Treat this knowledge as the opportunity to jump in and resolve the problem. Connect with the user publicly or in private and work together to solve the issue. Most people are willing to work with companies to get what they want. And you could end up turning a disgruntled buyer into a raving fan if you’re fast on the draw, take crisis management seriously and empower your CX team to do what’s right in every unique situation.

5. Make being your customer a rewarding, one-of-a-kind adventure.

Why do shoppers rave about , or ? Though their products and services do tend to be well-considered, the key to the brands’ almost cult followings is the culture. Wanting to be part of a community is a basic human desire, and certain companies have made being their loyal customer an amazing experience.

If you’re trying to develop a fierce following of fanatics who wouldn’t think of going anywhere else, consider the user experience from start to finish. Look for opportunities for you to go above and beyond expectations to make shopping with you not just a pleasure, but a must-do. You might just end up building a society of kindred spirits like did with its MINI series of vehicles. MINI drivers consider themselves part of a movement and collective, and the brand promotes this camaraderie on their site. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the “in” crowd?

Related: How to Earn Your Clients’ Trust (and Keep It)

Customers are moving around like never before and into a phase of discovery. Meet them where they are, and amaze them with a CX unlike any they’ve had before. They’ll be more likely to rave, not to mention stick with your organization for the long haul.

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How Should Entrepreneurs Prepare for an Election Disaster?

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s less than a week until one of the most anticipated presidential elections in U.S. history. However, are you and your enterprise prepared for the possibility of a disastrous outcome?

It’s not nearly as impossible as you might think. Politicians and political experts closely watching the run-up to Nov. 3 have astutely voiced concern over legal issues that may be on the horizon and could lead to the counting dragging on for weeks, which may trigger widespread civil disturbances, economic turmoil and even a Constitutional crisis. 

If your gut is telling you that if it’s never happened before, it probably won’t happen this time, I advise you to think back not only to the contested 2000 presidential election, but back to last spring. Many businesses were unprepared for the slew of problems that Covid dumped on us, and this is because our brains have a tendency to gloss over “black swans,” which are low-probability/high-impact events.

This tendency is deeply rooted in dangerous judgment errors that researchers in and cognitive neuroscience refer to as cognitive biases. These mental blindspots have a strong impact on all areas of our life, shaping our decisions regarding our health, politics and even shopping.  

Related: 5 Reasons Small Business Owners Should Vote

Cognitive Biases and Election Risk

Essentially, three cognitive biases are the culprit for potential unwillingness to face up to the truth that an election disaster is possible. The normalcy bias goads our brain into thinking things will stay as they are, encouraging us to plan for the near-term future based on short-term past experience. The result? We unwisely underestimate the possibility and impact of a widespread disruption, such as a Constitutional crisis.

Then, there’s the confirmation bias, which entices us to choose data that supports our pre-existing beliefs and what our gut tells us, while dismissing information that goes against it. In this case, confirmation bias encourages us to deny the possibility of an election disaster.

Finally, there’s the planning fallacy, a mental blindspot that causes us to make plans while assuming that the future will go as planned, only for things to go sideways because we’re not prepared for unexpected events. This dangerous judgment error fits right in with black swan-type scenarios like an election disaster.

Fortunately, there’s an effective way to confront these cognitive biases head on. But first, you need to assign a probability to each election-disaster scenario. For instance, what’s the probability that legal issues and civil disturbances will cause the counting of mail-in ballots to drag on until the Electoral College votes on December 14? Given that leaders from both parties have extensively prepared for post-election vote counting, I would say the probability is no less than 30 percent (but go ahead and assign your own number if you want).

Next, what’s the probability that the Electoral College will vote inconclusively due to legal problems? I would estimate this to be at 15 percent. At that juncture, the will have to pick a winner. Take note, however, that both parties have the means to cause a stalemate, which could then lead to a Constitutional crisis too complex to resolve quickly. I would say the chances that this could happen is at 10 percent.

Stepping Up Your Disaster Game Plan 

Now, imagine how the future would look like if the civil disturbance and legal problems continued only until the Electoral College vote. You’ll need to anticipate the problems you’re bound to encounter and come up with appropriate solutions. Review your business-continuity plan ASAP. Most companies that were gravely unprepared for the pandemic didn’t revise their plan quickly. If you haven’t fully transitioned your business to a remote-work model yet, now would be a good time to prepare for it. If this isn’t possible, get extra security for your office to be ready for possible civil disturbances.

Inform your employees that an election disaster might happen and ask them to prepare themselves as early as possible. If available, don’t forget to remind them about access to mental-health resources provided by the company, such as through an Employee Assistance Program. Be prepared for reduced productivity in case some of your employees suffer disruptions in their work. Ensure that the more critical roles are covered by assigning employees cross-trained for the positions as back-ups.

If you manufacture products, assess where you’ll need to make changes to protect your supply chains. If you’re a service provider, reach out to clients and assure them that you are taking appropriate measures to avoid interruptions. 

Next, identify how many resources you need to prepare for the expected problems. Add them up, multiply the sum by 30 percent, and those will be the resources at your disposal in case of a disruption.

After that, think about the problems you might encounter in case the Electoral College fails to deliver a decisive vote and the chaos continues until early January. Identify the resources you’ll need to solve the problems and multiply them by 15 percent.

Finally, identify the problems and corresponding resources you’ll need if the House voting results in a stalemate that causes a Constitutional crisis. Multiply the resources by 10 percent.

Related: U.S: Iran and Russia Obtained Voter Registration Data to Interfere in U.S. Election

By using this approach, you’ll be able to distribute your problem-solving and efficiently allocate resources across different scenarios according to your chosen evaluations. Think of it as buying yourself election insurance so that you and your company will be safe from any disruptions caused by whatever gets set in motion next Tuesday night. 



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