The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it. Sadiya Khan, Founder of Akund Communications, lists a few tips that will help businesses survive negative impact of the pandemic.
50,000 corona positive patients, a significant slump in the Indian economy and dampened purchasing sentiment – the last three months have not been kind to the Indian economy, dawdling at a meagre 5% growth. There are also few signs of things picking up anytime soon.
As the founder of a small PR firm, I’m going through sleepless nights as I juggle to keep things moving, connect with clients, media persons and ensure that we pay out salaries in due time. And I’m not the only one. Marketing, communication and PR have come to a standstill as most businesses think of ways to reduce costs and maintain liquidity. Getting operations to function becomes the priority, running a communication campaign moves further down the line.
Building on cross-industry insights and dialogue with other media practitioners, I am bridging together the way forward for my brand and business. While doing this, I came across a new analysis from McKinsey, which advised companies to work with a four-step approach to pull themselves out of the current slump. The steps? Recover revenues, rebuild operations, rethink their organisation and accelerate the adoption of digital solutions.
I have thought of how to fine-tune these steps to suit our uniquely Indian conditions. Here’s what I’ve put together:
1. Fixing the money problem
To begin, we need to prioritise liquidity – getting revenues and positive cash flow. Rejig the operating model and work on parameters and playbooks that capitalise efficiency, reduced costs and immediate gains. It’s no secret why Zomato and Swiggy capitalised on delivering essential commodities, or why every clothing brand is now making and retailing face masks.
For service-oriented businesses, it’s about enabling others – whether its salon app YesMadam opting for sanitisation services, IT firms building or marketing collaborative tools or personalised use cases for clients. The way to ensure revenue is to have an immediately sellable product/service, which will ensure that your business keeps making money.
2. Beginning with work
For businesses, the lockdown has meant no production, no sales, no supply and stockpiled inventory. For manufacturing, repairs and nearly all enterprises, the migrant workforce has chosen to walk back home. To begin work, you need to reorganise your setup and resources to work amid these challenges.
Reorganise your input channels – supply chains and logistics immediately to work with low labour and credit chains. Consider revenue-sharing models to balance your input needs. Work fast and build a more resilient operation, one which can deal with the kind of shocks you’ve gone through in the last two months.
3. Think bigger, think better
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown have been reset buttons, in essence, to the way most businesses work. It’s time to ask some tough questions about the relevance of your business, your brand to the newly opening up market and take appropriate calls. As a PR unit, for example, I’m advising my clients to communicate how they’re responding to the crisis, rather than opt for old playbooks.
Even small businesses need to consider digitisation and automation to make their operations run faster, smoother and better. Enable your physical workspaces to have better safety standards, even as you consider continuing with remote work opportunities for your team.
4. Go digital, stay digital
Yes, businesses who opted for smooth work from home transitions have fared better during this current crisis, than those who didn’t. If you’ve suffered due to limited staff, remember the disaster has still not gone away. Consider ways to digitise your operations – cloud-based collaboration tools, databases, chatbots and AI – to compensate and build efficiency for workers who still can’t commute to the office.
Not only that, use data-driven solutions and insights to chart out your next steps. Remember, these new steps will require you to seed in the capital and possibly wait for results.
The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it. Get ready to adapt and change with it, if you wish to sail through the current crisis in good stead.