The COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be a massive global economic crisis, with losses across sectors and markets, similar to that of 2008 recession. Such economic crisis affects firms and businesses irrespective of sizes, industry and verticals, challenging their management and employees. Unfortunately, the repercussion on startups and the small-scale industry can be way more brutal as they have lesser cash reserves and often deal on small margins for handling sudden crisis situations. This national lockdown has affected the Indian economy as well since several businesses are facing low / zero revenue generation due to the halt in operations. During this trying time, entrepreneurs would have to look at changing their strategies to survive this slowdown caused by the pandemic.
Below are the five tips for entrepreneurs to follow, so as to tide over the COVID-19 crisis:
1. Mapping the industry and market: Gathering industry intelligence is as vital for formulating a sustainable and effective business strategy in the post COVID era. With the constantly evolving situation in the market that is vulnerable to not only national but also global sentiments, it is important to be abreast of various changes so as to comprehend and predict the future turn of events. This is also valuable to ensure that the new business models and investment strategies are in tune with the market sentiments.
2. Restructuring finances: During this crucial period, it is of utmost importance to conserve and track expenses. While most companies are already taking quick decisions, a clear and well thought through process of mitigating assets and liabilities is vital to be able to understand where one stands. Accordingly, one can plan ahead, keeping long term goals in mind.
3. Innovative business model: Entrepreneurs are known for their innovative and agile approach to problems and during these trying times, these are vital qualities that can help them tide over the slowdown. Altering oneâ€™s business model, for example, can be a significant step towards keeping the business alive. From budget-friendly, customised products and solutions to a new discounted rate for existing offerings could be important ways to ensure continuous loyalty from customers. This can be done by completely changing the business strategies, evaluating the impact on new sales, potential debts, multitudes and credit cycle etc., to come up with a revised, crisis ready business model.
4. Resource Management: As this is a global crisis, we are all in this together. This is the time when entrepreneurs should be totally transparent while communicating with their employees and internal stakeholders to ensure their cooperation and wellbeing. In times like this, a business, irrespective of its size, is heavily dependent on the support of its employees. So any change that can impact the employees as a result of a revised business strategy, needs to be communicated in a positive and impactful manner. Be it salary cuts due to financial restructuring, temporary sabbaticals or additional work responsibilities, if communicated properly and supported with an empathetic action, they can go a long way in not only tiding over the crisis but also in creating a strong, close-knit set of loyal employees â€“ a resource that is the biggest strength of any business.
5. Managing external stakeholders and customers: During the lockdown, the slow or complete absence of business can be a huge deterrent to stakeholder engagement as most entrepreneurs are unsure of what to communicate and also view it as an additional cost. However, engaging with stakeholders and customers during this time of crisis is vital as it can help assure them about your positivity to return to business and build a brand recall and credibility â€“ the two main factors that will help one to retain the customers and external stakeholders in the post COVID era, when competition would be fierce.
Crises donâ€™t last forever. They are temporary, even if long, testing the entrepreneurâ€™s mental and economic stamina. Emerging from the crisis will be a gradual process. Itâ€™s important to plan appropriately for the various stages of the global marketâ€™s recovery. It is very important to stay strong, stand united and keep fighting to survive this time together.
Agnelorajesh Athaide is Chief Mentor & Business strategist- Business Opportunities Club (BOC).
Views expressed are personal.