Pandemics, such as COVID-19 (coronavirus), are one of those unexpected circumstances business leaders sometimes fail to prepare for. Moreover, such coronavirus pandemic poses a threat to entrepreneurs and businessman to sustain their business growth.
The pandemic of COVID-19 has been of similar case to many businesses who didn’t see it coming this way.
The COVID-19 Crisis Poses Threat to Financial Stability of the whole world. The economic impact of the pandemic has been deteriorating the market liquidity due to the spike in volatility.
According to IMF, “This points to a significant increase in downside risks to growth and financial stability. There is now a 5 percent likelihood (an event that happens once every 20 years) that global growth will fall below -7.4 percent. For comparison, this threshold was above 2.6 percent in October 2019.”
The moment when the global economic condition is facing severe downfall, small businesses are suffering even more. The web of crisis is spreading all over the economic sectors like the pandemic itself.
However, ad-hoc decision and appropriate planning and strategies can be implemented whatever the situation be, thanks to the ventrolateral frontal cortex of the human brain (which deals with the planning, decision, goal making, management, cognitive actions as well as control).
Different strategies can be made to sustain during such short term difficulties and secure vision in the long run.
The immediate plans for the adaptation during adverse situations like COVID-19 pandemic strictly depend on factors like:
- ways communicable diseases are spread
- type of business you are running
- limited rights and obligations posed by the authorities
Some of the strategies to sustain business growth during COVID-19 pandemic are discussed here. Such strategies are useful even in the highly competitive market.
Shift Business Online
Shifting businesses online has been a decade-long trend. With the sprouting technology and the desire to gain competitive advantage over competitors, many intra-office as well as inter-office activities like communication, correspondence, meeting, payments, orders, etc. have already shifted online. Even if the businesses are operating in a traditional way, such pandemics are the situations which force the companies to go online. Shutting down the company completely is not a good choice if it can be managed to operate distantly. The Working From Home (WFH) trend is gaining attention from both business owners and employees.
Working from home from the perspective of employees is also a better idea as they can still hold on to their jobs which lessens the financial panic amid the pandemic.
Shifting online is not just a way of sustaining your business from your side. It’s actually sustaining the whole ecosystem of the market. Not just your business company but all the other aspects of the market (customers, suppliers and workers) that keep the system alive are looking for ways to sustain their side of work. So shifting online is a win – win situation for all.
There are various CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools and services available for such purposes. These are the tools that helps to manage and maintain customer relationships, track sales leads, marketing, and pipeline, and deliver actionable data.
Not all the businesses and operations can be shifted online (It’s foolish to advise a construction company to build a bridge online), however, it can be managed to keep it going by shifting the activities like meeting, correspondence, supervision, evaluation, feedback, proposals and reporting etc. online.
Take Care of Employees
Believing your employees makes them believe in you in turn.
Employees are not just a bunch of people working to earn money. They are your investment for knowledge and experience which they utilize for the growth of the company.
You may be challenged financially to keep your employees during pandemic due to lack of adequate cash flow. But you can make them optimistic for a better future by sharing your new goals, plan and strategies and with little incentives from your reserve. Just firing them amid the pandemic is as much bad for you as it is for them.
Whenever the situation turns to normal (or incase it does not), your strategy should be to take a big leap by using all your strength into your business. Firing your current employees and running for new recruitment, training and management just after the pandemic makes you weak and sets you back even more.
Manage Cash Flow
Managing cash flow is the hardest part during the crisis. You have to keep your business alive with little or no incoming cash. Paying rent, salaries, raw materials or goods etc. may cost big if you are not selling well.
Managing cash flow is an art even if there are no such adverse conditions. You can always control over petty cash by clearly observing and setting priority and limitation on amount. You can also cut off a little amount from employee salary if there is no working environment and cash inflow is extremely low. If you have a good record of profit in the past years, reserve cash can also be utilized to sustain business during the short term adversities.
Working on credit is also possible for well established companies who have a good record of client relationships. It’s all about believing each other. Also, you can consider taking a short term or long term loan depending upon the severity of the situation.
Establish Health Care Policies and Follow Guidelines from Authorities
Authorities have set rules to decrease the of rate infection or let’s say flattening the curve in their words. This has to be followed strictly as the social responsibility too. Following what is inside the rule, make your own health policies inside your domain to keep your people safe, happy and motivated. Policies like health insurance, extended leave in case of infection, separate and safe transportation service, work from home scheme etc can be established to avoid the unexpected circumstances. Make your people believe that they are safe. Distribute effective masks and establish a method of sanitization in the office. Also a regular health monitoring of the employees can be done.
Collaborate with others
Difficult situations can be avoided easily in a team rather than fighting alone. Look for collaborators within the domain. Help others and take help from them in turn.
Collaboration helps to survive the whole ecosystem. The relationship and collaboration made during hardships can last longer and may help to grab more fortune in the future.
Look for other businesses or companies in your niche. Discuss about the difficulties you all are facing and deduce an effective way so that everyone can cope such a difficult time together.
In today’s time, there are umbrella organizations and associations in almost every domain of businesses. Such associations work for the benefit of the whole business community. Join them if you haven’t yet. Collaborating in a team helps to sustain your own belief in your business.
Search for Creative Problem Solving Approaches
The four alternatives to deal with the problems are
- Problems can be solved
- Problems can be waited to go away
- Problems can be avoided
- Problems can be turned into opportunities
The cases of pandemic can not be solved just by an effort of a company but it can be waited until it goes away. However, waiting for the problem to get solved is even more confusing if there is no certainty in timeframe. It rather engenders uncertainty about the whole future of the company.
When it comes to avoiding the problems, the basic steps of creative problem solving approach may become handy in some way.
Developing alternatives is crucial for creative approaches to solve problems. Among the alternatives developed after the clear identification of the problem, the best alternative is then chosen by carefully analyzing and evaluating the current state. The chosen alternative may closely lie within the domain of your business or it may be completely different from what you were doing. SWAT analysis and Risk-Return analysis are important before any judgement.
Focus on Pandemic Based Entrepreneurial Ideas
This is the 4th and last point we stated above inside the creative problem solving approach “Problems can be turned into opportunities”.
Problems are not good and not bad either. It all depends how you view them. Changing the perspective may create new possibilities amid the most disastrous situation.
Pandemics are not good. But not helping people during pandemics is also not good. There are hidden entrepreneurial chances that you can grab right at the moment. These chances may no longer exist when the pandemics are gone or they can create a legacy. It depends on how the market reacts to the situation.
If your business is related to the health sector, you can expand your business by spreading your testing centers. You can deliver medicines online and care for patients distantly. There are numerous other chances you know better. If you are from the manufacturing industry, you can produce health related products like masks, sanitizers, PPEs, thermal guns etc. Delivery services, e-commerce, online education and distant learning, consulting and trading are the few examples of those sectors on which you can still stick and run during the pandemic.
Pandemics like COVID-19 are not expected and these can seriously destroy even the firmly established businesses. Sustaining business during pandemic like coronavirus is possible with impromptu planning and decision making skills.
These skills are always necessary in order to avoid risks in this probabilistic world. Being equipped with a flexible, rational and creative mind is the real asset one can have which is immune even to the effects of pandemic.