Coping up with the unexpected event like COVID-19 is a real challenge, especially, when we do not have much resources at our disposal to counter it. Everyone today is uncertain about their lives and also unsure of whether COVID-19 would end in next few months or continue for next few years with deep impact on people’s psyche. How our lives would be in the next few month? The very thought makes us helpless and nervous. Nobody knows when COVID-19 end and what way to end it or at least end the growing threat of COVID-19.
In a current situation, all efforts are directed toward restricting its spread and minimize losses of human lives as well as economy as a whole. Both are under the threat without the option to choose from one of these two. If we save economy, and fear of losses of human lives would not let economy to come back to its normal functionating. People will not turn back to workplace until they are fully sure about the safety.
We are currently facing a situation of Catch 22. Nobody has any answer and all are waiting while the situation is getting beyond our control day by day. A few of us may be lucky enough to survive today but not sure of tomorrow and/or how the survival would be in post COVID Scenario? Billions of Dollars are being lost almost every day to protect lives of people and also due to closure of partially/fully all economic activities. Many industries are facing bankruptcy as they have huge cost even if they do not carry out business operations. Almost all businesses are losing, especially survival of new startups in small scale sector is the key concern as these do not have large reserves and resources to survive in a crisis of this kind.
Lockdown – Save lives but crushing the economy
Lockdown due to COVID 19 has suddenly caught everyone napping. The Business and economic activities have been shut down not locally but globally blocking supply chain and causing shortage of even essential supplies. Consumers as well as producers both got caught up in lockdown paralyzing mobilities for reaching out to each other. People staying at home, some could work from home to earn their full salary while others do not have much possibility of working from home. Income levels of people have gone down and are left with limited cash to manage their needs during the lockdown period. Online banking services and credit and debit cards have come to rescue to some extent. The investment in financial instruments like securities and share could not be of any use as the stock market crashed all over the world.
The consumption of people has come down to very basic level that includes food, affordable recreation, internet for communications, health care services and medical treatment in case of emergencies. In such a scenario, it is obvious that many businesses are at the verge of collapse except a few who could service their customers digitally. E-commerce also affected due to blockage of supply chain and courier industry. People do not have enough money to buy and therefore producers have no incentive to produce. A vicious circle causing double edged recession.
Survival during Lockdown: A few successful strategies
Entrepreneurial mind works under all types of situation and create solutions despite all odds. This is the belief of the true entrepreneurs. I share a few cases to illustrate.
Some proactive schools’ management immediately jumped to online education to their students and quickly trained their teachers to conduct classes and exams online. My wife is a Vice-Principle of one the largest schools in my City that has employed 500 teachers and over 5000 students. All teachers have started working from home in order to ensure that students do not lose their precious time. I see my wife first time using all possible digital technology to conduct meetings and coordinate all schools activities with teachers and students and also conduct online classes. This is one of the approach to survive and quickly develop capacities of teachers to use online platform. If they did not do, the school had to pay salaries and also meet other overheads and students/parents would not pay fee. The school could create a tough situation for its own survival even in post COVID-19.
Some entrepreneurs started using online platform to reach out to their employees and ensure regular business activities as far as possible. A startup company in India approached me to undertake online coaching sessions to help CEOs resolve their internal conflict as well as plan new strategic direction for future.
Another eminent business expert from Philippines offered me to collaborate with her to offer webinar to continue to earn money. My yoga school that did not use online platform in the past, suddenly contacted me to join yoga classes online.
COVID-19 is the first global crisis that has empowered us with the ‘time’ at our disposal and fulfill unlimited desires and ambitions. I have decided to join a six month health and nutrition courses including 7 days of detox program. While at home, I grasped everything needed to survive such as cooking, cleaning and washing and even gardening. It is now in this scenario you are relooking at your life and recreating vision and new life style, overcoming barriers, and roadblocks and improving skills and start thinking about the ways to make money. It is also the best time to rebuild your social and professional network and create activities to engage them.
All enterprises are expected to anticipate crisis and also have alternative plans and resources to cope up with the cost of crisis. In case of startup entrepreneurial companies, they do not have adequate resources to cope up not more than a week or so. In lockdown, your choices are very limited. Entrepreneurs can do mainly four things while being at home. Firstly, think about the ways and means to reduce cost and minimize losses. Secondly, brainstorm with colleagues to create new ideas that can help continuity of business operations and generate new ideas that make money during this crisis period. Thirdly, engage in self development activities and gain more personal and profession skills. Fourthly, rethink about the emerging paradigm shift about market, people and business in the post COVID era.
In specific terns, entrepreneurs can engage themselves in the following activities during lockdown period.
Make almost zero the travel cost and employees privileges such as car allowances or other related allowances
Renegotiate with suppliers for delayed payment without interests and also supplies for continuity of the business if needed at discounted price.
Also promote sales of left out stock by offering special price and booking orders with 25% advance – delivery could be after lockdown is lifted – try and offer some interesting benefits if they buy your products during lockdown.
Establish your own website with payment gateway – it can be done at much lower cost by the IT professional operating from Home.
Long Term – For something you never get time to do
Re-estimates your production, sales and cash flow – during lockdown and post lockdown period– Accordingly take needed action.
Work with your employees to upload your business transactions and records online.
Reassess your business capabilities, strategies and work on new/innovative strategies- use brainstorming and other ideation techniques for product redesign and marketing.
Reassess your own entrepreneurial and business management capacities and attend online courses to sharpen your skills (personal, leadership, business).
Build your network of suppliers, partners and consumers, dealers – know more about them and invite/share proposal for business partnership.
Find a mentor who can help you prepare strategies for revival of your business operations post lockdown.
Conduct online consumer research to find out new life style of people in post lockdown and consumption needs of different products/services.
Use employees development program online and ask them attend them during lockdown (cost sharing basis).
Post Lockdown Period – Work for Home is Compulsory a gift of COVID 19
Post COVID-19 is still difficult to be anticipated. Lockdown cannot be continued for a longer time. Government would open market slowly as soon as there is fall in new cases. However, psychologically, lockdown will continue in your consumers mind for much longer time. The fear of infection, social distancing, and assurance of safe supply chain management and so on would emerge as major concerns.
The following constraints offers new opportunities.
A number of industries like wellness (hospitals, health centres, Gym. Beauty parlor, SPA centres and even yoga Centres, People would restrain as these are the sources of direct infections. Though this services are critical in today’s time.
All food items including vegetable would need to use mechanical process of cleaning and packaging after applying sanitization while delivery to consumers.
Transport like buses, taxies, and train would face a set back as people would be intimidated for coming in contact with direct infections.
Businesses will have to reduce travel and work with partners and other stakeholders only online – meeting, seminar and conferences would be conducted online.
You need to employ paperless digital office – where no transaction or contract on paper and all payment online. People would not like to carry cash but insist on online banking – Shift all operations to digital office.
Your employee need not come to office, they will have to learn to operate from home until fear of infection is assured to zero.
Strategically, business operations will have to shift to outsourcing in a way that all operations are possibly conducted near customers location (assembly line of products and services will have to be also located near consumers.
Product that offer use of digital technology (distance) to provide services for repair and including medical tests.
Post COVID-19 would boom digital technology, online education, services and e-commerce as critical to revival of the economy and other industry.
Health insurance industry would grow and it may become mandatory for employers to provide insurance to employees including family members against COVID 19.
Prof. Gautam Raj Jain, Ph. D for Business Lounge Journal
About Prof. Gautam Raj Jain, Ph. D
Prof. Gautam Raj Jain, Ph. D has 30 years of experiences as Professor and Director in Premier Management Institution in India. He’s also a consultant to over 50 international projects The client organisations like UNDP (Kenya), UNOPS (New York), ILO (Bangkok), UNIDO (Austria), EU, PWC , Asian development Bank, WM Enterprises (UK), and many more.
He also established Centre of Excellences “Entrepreneurship Development Centre” and “Incubation Centre at MICA”.