The Corona virus disease, COVID-19, started in the year 2019. It has wreaked havoc on life and businesses the world over in 2020. The relatively weaker humans with low immunity and co-morbidity have suffered the most. Different models projected different number of people suffering and dying from it.
COVID-19 has battered the world economy. Global growth rate has been impacted. GDP growth for all nations has been negative. Governments imposed lockdowns to contain the spread of virus and buy themselves time to ramp up healthcare facilities. The impact of lockdowns has been harsh on start-ups, small and medium businesses.
The ones that have survived through 2020, should continue to follow the below guidelines we had provided in 2020. The vaccines have come and 2021 will be brighter and better.
In these challenging times SMBs should focus on the following three aspects carefully:
Safety of employees is paramount. Employees need to be taken care of by allowing them the choice to work from home where possible and providing them with all the safety that is needed in cases where coming to place of work is absolutely unavoidable. In many countries, governments are providing clear guidelines for safety of their citizens.
Apart from safety, motivation is the other aspect that businesses should focus on. In such difficult times a company's resolve for employee good will be tested fully. Letting go of employees will be a big loss for the morale and brand of a company and should be done only as a last resort.
Companies need to rework revenue plans and check their cash flows. Sales cycles are going to be longer. Depending on how long the problem persists, business activity will not resume in full bloom. Decision making will be slow thereafter.
Companies will do good to adjust their non-essential spends. A relook at advertising, marketing etc. is in order. Spend more on digital channel. Some of the perks can be scrutinized as well. It will still be good to preserve cash. Focus should also shift to recoveries and collections. There will be quite a lot of requests for extending credits and deferring payments. Companies should be ready with their analysis of whether such requests deserve to be honoured.
Most countries have rolled out big support packages for small businesses. Utilizing the benefits extended should help you tide over the difficult phase until normalcy returns.
Companies would do well to keep in mind that 2021 the business activity will pick. It will be good to be prepared business out of the pent up demand.
Businesses exist because of customers. Companies need to ensure that customers are supported even at these difficult times. It is the right time to aggressively work on remote communication and support. Calls, mails, video conferencing need to be actively used to be in touch with customers and helping them when they need support.
Being transparent with customers in these challenging times is also good. Share with them impact on services due to the virus situation and also your plan to mitigate it. Customers should be told how you are gearing up to ensure that your business will continue without much interruption.
These are the times that will test the foundation of businesses. Stick to your core values. Prioritize and attend to what is important for your people and business.