Your Future, Your Choice

by Sonja van den Bosch

Your Future, Your Choice

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’

This is one of my all-time favourite quotes from Neale Donald Walsch.

How true is this at this point in time? Haven’t we all experienced this lately? During the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve been pushed into unknown situations and into the space of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the now and also uncertainty about the future.

Adaptability leads to thriving

The most important skill to tap into in times of uncertainty and change is adaptability. Keeping an eye on the now, doing everything we can do to survive, keeping our businesses alive, while also looking into the future and preparing on how to thrive and prosper in a newly designed future.

Create a better future

This might seem a bit scary or uncomfortable, however I think this is actually very exciting. You know what is most exciting about this? We can create this future; It is in our own hands and that creation starts now. Even more exciting is that we can get our teams, our customers, and other stakeholders to co-create this future with us.

People are more open to change now than ever before, which creates the opportunity for new ways of thinking, doing and being. Why not think about combining the best of both worlds? What worked really well before the pandemic and what has actually worked even better during this time? How can we combine this?

Over the past few weeks I’ve facilitated private workshops with our clients on this topic, how to build value & reputation now and create the best possible future for your business and strengthen your market position. This evolved into a series of virtual roundtables that have touched business owners and professionals in Australia, Asia and even the US.  

It has been energising, fun and very satisfying to share my business and marketing leadership insights and in return receive great engagement, positive feedback and the exploration of new ideas and partnerships.

There were so many great learnings for the participants, and I wanted to share the top 3 with you.

Learning 1: There are always opportunities everywhere

With external circumstances changing rapidly, this is a great time to work on or revisit your business & marketing direction, strategy, and planning. In fact, a healthy business regularly revisits the strategy, after execution and analysing results. That’s why we constantly work in our ongoing marketing lifecycle of strategy – implementation – results and back to strategy.

Strategy time is so valuable, it is about stepping out of your day-to-day routine to think about and explore different and new ideas.

To get your thinking process started, here are 2 models that you can use.

Strategic model 1: SWOT Analysis

To uncover ‘hidden’ opportunities use your SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) and especially the opportunities part.

Some opportunities to think about during this time are digital transformation, showing our human side, bringing our team closer, supporting customers, suppliers and even competitors through this time, extra time, learning new skills, new partnerships.

For me, a SWOT analysis always gives a great snapshot and clarity of where a business is at and what the future opportunities might be. I personally like to start with and make the quadrant of opportunities the biggest, as it helps to focus on finding opportunities always and everywhere.

Strategic model 2: Ansoff Matrix

Another great model to use  to plot growth opportunities for your business is the Ansoff matrix.

I absolutely love the Ansoff Matrix. It’s one of the theoretical frameworks I learned at Maastricht University a long time ago and I am still using it regularly for our clients and for our own business.

The Ansoff matrix has 4 quadrants that can facilitate growth. The quadrant that is the most cost-effective with the lowest risk is market penetration, existing products in existing markets. Theoretically if there is still growth here, it’s a great place to stay.

The next two options are either to bring your existing products into a new market like eg. moving into a new country or city or to bring new products into your existing market like eg. developing add on products/services.

Ultimately you can also move into a completely new market with a completely new product. Although this is the riskiest and most expensive option, for some companies this is the best option right now like eg. sports companies now producing medical devices and moving into the medical industry.

Learning 2: Bolster your goodwill and reputation by adding more value

If you’ve exhausted all the opportunities in the SWOT and Ansoff Matrix, focus on bolstering your goodwill which consists of the intangible assets like customer and employee relationships, your market position and reputation and any proprietary technology/systems or patents.

These intangible assets are of great value to your business. They might not result in profitability of your business today but will definitely help create your future stability and earnings.

Look at where you can add more value to your existing customers, every step of the way. You can use the customer journey model as a blueprint. It’s a great time to connect with existing customers and give them extra attention, always before going out to the wider market. You can use this model as well to work through your employee journey, as they are your first and most important customers.

It’s also a great time to re-connect with past customers and even start building new relationships, that are based on mutual trust. You do this by building two-way engaging relationships. This will help you to not only preserve, but also enhance your reputation.

Learning 3: Don’t be afraid to show your human side

When we show our human side we are more real and more relatable. This will ensure connections are stronger, as emotions are being triggered. Now is a great opportunity to open up, be humble and vulnerable, while still making the right business decisions. Hard times will always reveal true friends and genuine business relationships.

Finding the right balance between the business & human side, the rational & emotional, the helpful & caring is now more important than ever.

Naturally, we need to be 100% confident that we can walk the talk. I call this truthful marketing, which is our first core value and underpins everything we do.

As the Harvard Business Review states: ‘Empathetic messages must be backed up by actions demonstrating that the company is on the customer’s side. This is really important, so that we are not all talk and no action.’

It starts with us, each and every day

My philosophy is and always has been that we have a choice, each and every day. We can not control what is going to happen to us, however we can control how we react and respond.

This gives us ultimate freedom and gives us the choice to make each day a great day, if we choose to.  And what’s more? This doesn’t only have a positive effect on us, but also on everyone around us from our customers, teams, families, and everyone else we touch.

Imagine what the world would look like if we all had this ‘I have a choice’ attitude!

If you would like any support with your strategic planning, your marketing strategy & execution and of course with creating the best possible future for your business, please feel free to get in touch.  

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  1. Thank you Sonja.
    Yes there are opportunities everywhere – when you least see them.

  2. Absolutely Sally, you are a walking example of that with Health that heals.

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Inspirational marketing is about being true to yourself, being aligned with your core values and doing something you truly believe in and are passionate about. It is about creating meaningful relationships with everyone you encounter. It is about thoughts from the heart.

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