We have been hit—badly. Our resources—mental, physical, and monetary—are at an all-time low. And we still cannot see our way out of the storm. The Goliath that is confronting us hasn’t yet found its vanquishing David, and we are worried it might never.
The COVID-19 pandemic affecting over a hundred countries in the world today is challenging nations to the brink of their endurance. It is a difficult test. A rising death toll coupled with an equally increasing rate of layoffs and unemployment, with a sluggish market to boot, has resulted in a symbolic Molotov cocktail. We are just one spark away from a conflagration.
The Impact Of COVID-19 On Businesses
While we commiserate with those affected by the disease, there is another more deadly storm brewing on the horizon. Lockdowns, initiated by world governments, have resulted in job cuts, pay cuts, layoffs, and closure. What is going to be the future of this situation? Have we assessed the full damage COVID—19 has done to our economy? Have we understood its impact? How should we prepare our businesses for the post-pandemic world?
In trying, confusing times such as these, businesses are taking a hit because of the drastic drop in demand. People are only buying the essentials. Hence, travel, hospitality, and entertainment have taken a pounding like no other sectors. These sectors are floundering and wondering how they will ever get back on their feet. It is time, then, to prepare your business for a post-pandemic world.
Why did the non-essentials market suffer?
COVID-19 has thrown up some interesting analysis. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve learned that we don’t require anything more than the essential things in life—family, food, clothing, and housing. You don’t need more than that to survive, but to truly live?
That is when we miss the dining-out, socializing, travel, festivals, congregating with loved ones, and spending on frivolities, all of which helped to power the economy. Right now, the non-essential goods market is suffering because those commodities are just that—non-essential.
Was your business among these non-essentials? Has it taken a crushing blow? To stay relevant in a post-pandemic world, you have to innovate and strategize. Have you been left wondering how you should steer your business through these strange times?
The Measures Taken by Governments in Response to COVID-19
The good news is that world leaders have been quick this time to announce measures to curb what could have been another global recession. The US government had announced its CARES Act in March earlier this year, which sanctioned direct payments to American citizens, and talks are in for another stimulus package, except the Presidential elections have gotten in the way.
The UK, too, slashed interest rates to boost the economy, and Germany made sure its lockdown wasn’t as severe as the rest of Europe’s. The country encouraged its economy with a one trillion euro impetus package.
Closer home, though, the condition is catastrophic. The lockdown implemented by the Indian government was one of the most rigid in the world. It did nothing for the country, though, except create a humanitarian crisis for the migrant workers. As it stands now, India has the second-highest number of COVID cases.
While the bad news is that the growth rate in India plummeted to 3.1% thanks to COVID, it’s the largest ever GDP contraction. Since we’re going to be stuck in the pandemic for a while, it’s time we took a look at how your business can cope during this period.
Business for a Post Pandemic World
What does business for a post-pandemic world look like? For one thing, it means that your business has got to make massive changes, both in its goals and in its way of operating. What should you think of when it comes to making goal changes? Here’s a checklist.
- Should you stick to what you were doing or change?
Now is the time to take stock of what you had been doing all these years. Right now is the best time to change those areas of your business that were not doing well. For example, if you were selling vehicles, then the heavy and large vehicle sector and the luxury car markets were already slowing badly. But the two-wheeler market has picked up tremendously. So it’s time to switch your resources in this sector.
- Should you downsize or diversify?
Another point to consider is whether you need to cut down on the size of your business or add new dimensions to it. Many small traders who could not make sales in garments, added counters selling masks and disinfectants which were high in demand and flying off the shelves. Stores selling gift items have stocked up on essential commodities. Diversifying is then the way forward. Vary the products to include the essentials, and you will undoubtedly stay afloat or even thrive.
- Is your business viable?
While we have already demonstrated that certain businesses are not viable, for example, hospitality and entertainment, these sectors have come up with ways to cope with the challenges that COVID-19 has thrown them. The government has also brought up many measures that restaurants need to follow if they are to stay in business. Follow these rules in the post-pandemic world, and you will be able to pull through this challenging year. The requirements are not very difficult. Show your customers that you care for their safety, and they will continue to support you.
- What are the government’s rules regarding your business sector?
Every government, both at the state and national level, has specified specific rules regarding the workplace that employers need to follow. While they generally put employee safety on the top of the list, they are also directives on how you should conduct your business in a post-pandemic world.
What are some of the changes you should make while operating your business? Take a look at this checklist.
- Don’t cut jobs.
As a business owner if you are unable to pay your employees, do not fire them. These are unnatural, challenging times, and to survive in this post-pandemic world, they need the support of a job. It is advisable to take massive pay cuts rather than to sack someone and let team morale drop. Taking a pay cut means sends the message that we are all in this together, and that is the only way out.
- Go to your customers
If your customers cannot come to you, you can offer your services in the safety of their homes. Offer home delivery, home services, and you can be offering jobs to many more to ferry your services across the city. Beauty parlour and salons can offer their services at homes, just a call away. With domestic help not being available, you can offer cleaning services can be at a charge. Think of the number of people you could help just by providing them with the connection between demand and supply.
- Safety first
The first thing you should keep in mind with regards to the new functioning of your business is that the threat of COVID-19 is far from over. Your employees should follow proper protocol and work according to all the safety regulations. Every safeguard should be followed to the letter, and employee’s health should be foremost in the mind of the business owner. Also, keep the safety of your customer paramount in your interactions.
- The new working culture
One of the positive takeaways from the pandemic situation is that there is now time to revise the working week. Should employees actively seek work-from-home as it helps them to balance work and family life? Doing so will help them to perform better as it drastically cuts down travel time. Also, employers can cut all office overhead expenses. Workers can do the same quota of work without the pressure of a typical working day.
Post-Pandemic Business Strategy
Obviously there are going to be some structural and functional changes to your workplace. So while considering how to prepare your organization for a post-pandemic world, take the following points into account.
- To raise capital, go for the tried and tested routes
As a business, it is going to be hard to raise capital over the equity markets, since people are very cautious now. So with banks slashing interest rates, they could be your only source of finance. Or else businesses can raise money through venture capitalists who are always looking for the next big thing. These are trying times, and chances are you won’t get much funding to push any new projects.
- Learn from the past
There have been pandemics in the past, but none required the sheer amount of work COVID-19 has, in terms of containing the spread of the virus. Doctors, health workers are risking their own lives every day to prevent the death rate. The pandemic is the golden time to be working in health insurance, business insurance and life insurance. In times of risk, people panic and clutch at whatever hope is offered to them.
- Try to formulate a new business model
If the old supply chain model has failed you, or the system has let you down, then it’s time for an overhaul. It would help if you came up with measures and safeguards that protect your business no matter the cost. Start ideation sessions and brainstorming sessions in your company to come with measures and methods to cope with the new normal. This pandemic is the right time to try new ideas as any of them are equally likely to succeed.
- Look for partnerships
In times of trouble, it is better to go together than to go alone. Try your best to come up with new partnerships so you can absorb the risks of business with a partner. Also, try to help out your competitors like Burger King did for McDonalds and other chains so that they could stay in business. While this may be a dog-eat-dog world, it doesn’t have to. You can be compassionate at this time and extend a helping hand to sister businesses that are struggling.
- Analyzing the trends, COVID has thrown up
Study very minutely the trends that COVID-19 has thrown up for businesses. Observe how small-time companies have had to change their game and how that has resulted in them diversifying. Absorb the same trends for your business. Panic situations always show up the failures of any existing model. So if you study the data that is being out there, you will always find the weak links of your business model, which will help you to strengthen the chinks.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
While this may be sound financial advice, it has never been truer for businesses than right now. The COVID-19 season has made people realize that they cannot trust anything. Least of all their business to be a source of security for them. That is why diversify!
Now that we have taken a comprehensive look at what post-pandemic business strategy, you should be following, take a look at a post-pandemic business plan 2021.
Post-Pandemic Business Plan 2021: What’s going to change?
In the upcoming year, there are going to be many new changes in the way your business conducts itself. If you are wondering just what are these changes are, take a look at how companies can change in a post-pandemic world.
- Disruption in supply chains
One thing the pandemic has taught a business is that globalization is a pretty terrible idea with countries implementing long-term lockdowns, which led to the widespread disruption of the supply chains that depended on offshore supply. Globalization means that if your business has a supplier that is in another country, you were probably affected in production. Companies are now going to take up local scouting for suppliers rather than looking for offshore partners.
- Trouble raising capital
There is going to be a lot of trouble when it comes to raising capital for new ventures. The market is still a little cautious, and as time progresses, investors are not jumping with excitement at new plans. So factor this in into your post-pandemic business plan 2021. While no one can predict the future, equity markets will likely be pretty sluggish for a while now.
- Factor in money for unforeseen expenditures
The pandemic has taught every business owner that nothing can be predicted. The future will always continue to throw up challenges, and the only way to deal with these challenges is to keep aside money for contingencies. Doing so will not leave you high and dry when adversity strikes.
- Increased Government interference
As we advance, we are going to see increased government intervention. They are going to be the guiding force of the future as they try to curtail the effects of negative phenomena. Look to them to become the Big Brother all in the name of protecting the interests of the people. Not to say that governments have not done the right thing in protecting the people and trying to contain the unforeseen problems. But some decisions have not been made with proper foresight.
The world has changed. Accept that with grace and humility and look to the future with a humble admission that we’re only too human. We do not know what the future holds for us. As frail people, we can only speculate on the direction in which the world will head, but we can give no concrete assurance as to what will really happen.