People from the Lebanese Revolution lighting red flares in Riad El Solh Square

Lessons for the Traditional Business from the Lebanese Revolution

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A message to the traditional business; the early bird gets the worm.

Stress in the Lebanese community has been dormant for years. The generations that survived multiple wars seemed to passively overlook basic human rights as they dealt with their chronic PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) by escaping into a world of happy denial; escaping to nightlife, outdoor events, soccer games, traveling, and other activities.

On October 17th, 2019, the people had enough and took to the street all in one glorious revolution. Within this revolution, I’m only shedding light on the small business sector and highlighting some smart moves.

When the people took the streets by storm, some businesses took action while the traditional businesses were still waiting for the results of a feasibility study or informally speculating the next steps.

Here are some pointers to become an agile business.

Know thyself

Before you spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere, take the time to evaluate your capabilities. The Strength factor in the SWOT Analysis is a good place to start.

What’s your budget for outdoor events and exhibitions?

How many people do you have on the team and are they properly trained?

Do you own or outsource your vehicles?

Do you own portable advertising material like roll-up banners or exhibition stands?

You get the idea.

Keep your eyes open

Long gone are the days of the traditional business; renting a store and praying for walk-ins doesn’t work in today’s economy. The competition is just too fierce with your bigger rivals allocating big monthly advertising budgets to target your customers.

Scan for opportunity at all times. If you sell healthy foods, book a stand in fitness and wellness exhibitions, guest-post on an influencer’s blog, network to appear on podcasts, radio and TV programs.

Move fast

Once you spot a good fit, act fast! Have formal procedures in place to enhance the mobility of your brand. Decide in advance who is on the task force that represents the business in outdoor events; this is usually done through the marketing department. Logistics and budget are to be calculated in advance.

Location, location, location

Location can be explained as the precise spot in the venue and the number of customers passing nearby that spot. The first entrant advantage is everything.

In Lebanon, for example, the vacuum cleaner is popularly named “Hoover” based on the first company that introduced that product in the market. As a rule of thumb, follow the eyeballs and footprints; that’s where the money is.

You heard that the early bird gets the worm; that’s true because the first entrant gets the prime spot in the venue.

Guerilla tactics

The trick with outdoor events is to think outside the box instead of making a smaller copy of your traditional business. Get creative with your display depending on the setting of your venue (size, location, etc.), include interactive elements so that you’re not just a poster in the crowd; setup contests or sweepstakes; everyone loves free stuff.

Unlike the traditional business, a merchant selling Lebanese flags in Martyrs' Square - Downtown, Beirut, Lebanon.

Also, try to infuse some of your digital presence by starting a hashtag competition on your Instagram page. A very effective way is deploying salespeople who attract customers who might have overlooked your display.

Support the cause

You don’t have to think about money whenever there’s an event. Building goodwill during the event, by giving out freebies and creating an engaging experience, may lead to long-term customer loyalty and cash flow down the road. Be strategic; there’s a time to saw and a time to harvest.


Agility is an inherent power especially in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and it is their secret weapon against conglomerates that are burdened by bureaucracy. Such was the epic tale of David and Goliath.

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