But even with all his experience, he admits he’s never been through anything quite like 2020. Watching the ongoing crisis in Victoria, he’s seeing a lot of people shouting from the gallery. “Most of the opinions are criticisms and not ideas,” he said. “I’d hate to be Prime Minister or Premier. Are people doing everything right? Probably not. But we haven’t faced something like this.”
Without downplaying the situation, he’d remind Victorian business owners that six weeks is not forever. Psalm 23 tells us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. “Setbacks aren’t campsites,” he said. “And unfortunately too many business people actually camp in where they are now.”
But Isaiah 48 shows us how God always offers ways to walk through the valleys we couldn’t escape alone. “I have a lot to tell you, things you never knew existed. This isn’t a variation on the same old thing. This is new, brand new, something new you’d never guess or dream up. When you hear this, you won’t be able to say I knew that all along.”
In Isaiah 43:19 NKJV, God promises “I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. “From a Christian perspective, I’m actually excited by the opportunities this has created for Churches and ministries to reach out, using social media and the internet, on a greater scale.”
Similarly, Peter has been encouraged by the creativity some businesses have shown in their responses to the pandemic. Coffee shops have become social media powerhouses. Hotels have arranged high tea for pickup and serving at home on Mother’s Day. Plumbers and electricians have minimised their contact time by having customers show them problems via video call before they arrive.
Peter says there’s a precedent for creativity emerging from hardship. Uber, MTV, Craft Foods, Burger King and Chevrolet are just a few massively successful businesses that started during recessions. Apple, Google, and Amazon all began in garages, and went on to be among the biggest corporations in the world.
Many of us will now have no choice but to adapt and change, but is that such a bad thing? “God doesn’t change,” Peter said. “He’s the same, yesterday, today and forever. So if he’s birthed something in us, then he’s going to make it happen. But maybe we’ve got set in our ways, and we need to rethink. Maybe this is a chance for a new direction.”
“What we’ve got to work out is what’s the bruise that our customers have now that we can provide for with our service? What’s the need, and how do we go about solving it. And we may want to ask how a few companies have done that over the years, how they’ve changed or innovated.”
A big part of readiness for this new landscape is openness to new ideas. Check out the podcast of Peter Irvine’s conversation with 20Twenty’s Neil Johnson for plenty more tips on how to make your business adaptable, especially to new digital trends, as well as lots more great ways businesses have responded to change and fostered creativity.