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Maintaining Your Business despite a Crisis, as Told by Global Leaders

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Before the pandemic started taking a toll on our industry, our companies belonged to the fastest-growing privately-owned businesses. The executives came up with a five-year plan that involved increasing the number of employees and moving into a new office building. We’ve also spared some time to communicate the true purpose of what we do and the value of our clients. In a matter of days, the COVID-19 pandemic struck our industry and drained a significant chunk of our business revenues. We went from planning for the next five years to lay off half of the workforce.

It is in these times when we ask ourselves why we are in our businesses or industries, and if what we do makes a difference. If our company did not have a relevant purpose, I might have just resigned.

What Is A Business Purpose?

We initially think that it’s synonymous with a company’s vision and mission. However, your business purpose answers to a completely different question, which is the “why.” It is what will motivate employees to go beyond their basic duties. The mission and vision commonly answer what the company wants to achieve and who they do it for, but never the “why.”

In our case, it is “to awaken the greatness within.” We want our clients to discover their greatness by fueling them with skills and motivation. This purpose started out as a business principle, but through the pandemic, my company’s purpose gradually became my own.

A Business Purpose Can Be Personal

Our company’s purpose to “awaken the greatness within” became deeply personal as we faced the daily challenges created by our current situation. We soon realized that we could tap on the skills we developed over the years to become better leaders and mentors. We then started opening more lines of communication with the staff, being more empathetic towards them, and our clients who are also definitely facing a lot of challenges during this difficult time.

We brought this mantra with us at home and focused on our personal lives. Rather than succumbing to vices to get through each strenuous workday, we decided to channel energy into keeping fit, practicing a better diet, and constantly communicating with our family and friends about what we have been experiencing. Although everything is done digitally, it helps in keeping us grounded and rational.

Find Your Purpose

A business purpose will not fix all of the problems your business is facing, but it helps in serving as a guide during difficult times. It is the core and soul of your business that will be your source of motivation in the most uncertain times. Even when numbers are down, having a strong sense of purpose can inspire you and your team to hang on and still try to do their best each day.

If your business does not have a purpose yet, this may be the best time to find one. If you already do have one, try to embody that purpose. You would be surprised at how much motivation it can give you.

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How the Pandemic Is Killing Small Businesses with False Hopes of Reopening

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With the ongoing pandemic, many businesses—both big and small—are severely affected by declining demand from consumers. With everyone currently living amidst the virus, small businesses are slowly reopening. Here is why some small businesses do not thrive in this type of market.

It can be expected that an economic downturn will happen with the ongoing pandemic. The question is, until how long? With the threat of the virus still looming above everyone’s head, small businesses are forced to reopen because of near-empty financial gains. With the current market, however, financial games are more difficult to attain more than ever. First, people are more cautious than ever to leave their residences because of health and safety concerns. Even if small business establishments have reassured people that they have enough social distancing protocols, people are hesitant because of the virus’s ongoing threat. Second, because businesses and companies are starting to shut down because of low financial gains, many people are unemployed. They prefer to invest their money in purchasing essentials instead of wasting it on entertainment and other non-essential items.

Let us look at some small businesses and how the pandemic has slowly killed their economy.

How Small Businesses Are Losing the Financial Battle with the Pandemic

Small Businesses Losing Steam

One of the main attractions of Chicago is Navy Pier. It is a perfect way for people to relax and unwind with its many attractions that boast of various food establishments, entertainment areas, shopping districts, and rides! The Pier closed during the March quarantine lockdown and reopened in June 2020. However, even with many safety and social distancing protocols, the Pier only garnered 15% attendance compared to the previous year. Because of low profit, it shut down again during Labor Day and plans to reopen in 2021 when things are (hopefully) in a more stable condition. 

One of the reasons why the reopening businesses cannot save the economy is that even if these amenities are open, the demand for them to stay open clearly isn’t there with most people wanting to stay indoors or that they cannot simply afford these types of luxuries.

Small Businesses Flourishing

AltCap is a financing and loaning agency that has supported numerous businesses amidst the pandemic. According to AltCap CEO Ruben Alonso III, the pandemic’s effects have affected businesses across the board – with other small businesses permanently shutting down while others are flourishing. For example, a cotton candy business that was thriving well before the pandemic. When the pandemic hit, and the cotton candy business was affected, it evolved into something new! The dessert business was converted into a dessert tricycle that popped at local restaurants and coffee shops, serving sweet treats. With this fast and innovative way to still sell sweet treats, the business flourished and had enough money to set up a storefront space. 

It pretty much boils down to small businesses adaptability, innovation, and flexibility to transform according to the consumers’ needs and demands.

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Apartment Rates Are Plunging Quickly in World’s Richest Cities—Time to Negotiate!

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If you live in an upstate part of a rich city such as Sydney, New York, Vancouver, and Tokyo, it is time for you to sit down with your landlord and negotiate the rate for your apartment. Read on why you need to do this NOW with the current market.

With the ongoing pandemic, bed and breakfast, Airbnb’s, and transient houses have minimal to no revenue as travel opportunities ceased with government travel regulation and social distancing protocols. With all this happening, the market for apartment rates is spiraling downwards. Aside from this, the main demand for upscale apartments is international students who are now stuck at home due to the quarantine. Hence the demand for chic apartments in rich cities is much lower as compared to previous years. Also, millennial renters who are also stuck at home no longer have the motivation to pay additional for cool spaces when the city’s usual hustles and bustles, which ordinarily attracted them in the first place, is non-existent because of the pandemic. 

If you live in an upscale apartment in some of the world’s richest cities such as Sydney, New York, and San Francisco, it is time to act now and initiate a conversation with your landlord about rent rates, especially with the ongoing pandemic.

Apartment Market Trends in World’s Richest Cities

Sydney, Australia

One of the renters who took advantage of the current market value and trend of plunging apartment rates is Christine Chung from Sydney, Australia. She negotiated a 9% drop in her current space at the classy Enmore (10km away from the city) that she shares with three other tenants in Sydney, one of the world’s most expensive cities. She recounts that the process is not easy – she had to track down and wear down the landlord for five weeks of avoided phone calls until the landlord agreed to reduce the rent from AUD895 to AUD810 every week. 

Manhattan, New York

Manhattan is considered one of the prime destinations for apartment real estate. However, with the ongoing pandemic, Manhattan apartments had sunk to the rate back in 2013! Listings for available Manhattan apartments and studios have tripled during the pandemic with a lack of tenants or renters due to closed entertainment establishments. Another lure of tourists and tenants to be in Manhattan is its rich Broadway culture. However, with Broadway cinemas closed until May of 2021, the market to support this culture is also surging fast.

San Francisco, California

In the past, San Francisco was considered as one of the bustling metropolitan areas for millennials who want a taste of San Francisco energy. San Francisco faced a housing issue not too long ago, where Silicon Valley workers had to rent RVs to work in the city! With companies encouraging employees to work from home next year (and maybe permanently), rent prices are splurging downwards. The median rent for San Francisco had a 31% decline, as compared to a .5% decline across the US.

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How Traders are Capitalizing on Virtual Reality Goggles

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Bank trading is getting a tech twist. UBS is giving its London traders an opportunity to test out trading rooms by employing VR goggles from Microsoft.

Since the pandemic started, it goes without saying that corporations were not prepared, which in turn reduced the number of people reporting for work, and coming to banks. While the lockdowns have been lifted and some businesses are slowly opening, the risk of the COVID-19 cases spiking is not a threat to be taken likely, which is why banks like UBS have been looking into other ways to simulate a regular day in the bank.

Beatriz Martin, the chief executive of the UBS UK branch was the first to consider this idea and has suggested starting working groups to work on reimagining the trading floor and also set up screens on the trader’s desks alongside their coworkers to encourage collaboration. 

Some banks such as JPMorgan have attempted to bring their workers back to the office but have had to send some workers home after one of them tested positive for the coronavirus disease. 

Meanwhile, other banks such as Deutsche Bank have made returning to the office as voluntary to avoid the risk of spreading the virus around and that most workers can return to the office in the middle of 2021 when the virus has been contained. 

BlackRock’s chief executive Larry Fink does not expect 100% of the workers to return to the office with the current situation, which is why virtual reality tools would be helpful to aid productivity from the safety of their homes. 

How VR changes the system:

With COVID-19 as a threat, it’s only natural that people are warier about coming back to work in an office, which is why it’s convenient to incorporate virtual reality so that you can simulate a normal workday without risking your health, and the health of others. 

The good thing is that there are multiple companies that specialize in virtual reality, which means you have options to choose from, which works for you. Microsoft launched HoloLens in 2015, and while it was initially perceived to be a gaming device, with their headphones at a price of $3000 upwards, it has since been considered by companies to be a tool for communication.

The first bank to consider using HoloLens for their trading business was Citigroup, in 2016, they developed the Citi system which combined financial data with 3D holograms. While they were looking into making the graphics in a way where clients could interact with the data, Citigroup decided against using the headphones because they felt it was too limited in terms of battery life, display size, and processing function.

Banks are an essential business, and staying afloat is one of the most important things they should focus on when it comes to the pandemic, which is why implementing virtual reality is a good move to replicate trading rooms for bank traders and their current investor clients. 

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