Since the outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, SARS – CoV – 2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020. Most countries require their people to stay at home while ordering to postpone many public events, social gatherings and education activities. Moreover, strict policies including border shutdown, large-scale quarantines, travel restrictions and social distancing have been enforced to stop the transmission of the virus.
As a consequence of stringent regulations posed by countries, the economic toll is globally visible. According to the anticipation of Oxford Economics, global GDP is expected to contract by almost 7% in the first half of the year and shrink by 2.8% over the full year. The most affected sectors include tourism, transport, retails, supply chain. Many restaurants, shops, cinemas, and entertainment places are temporarily shut due to the strict social distancing policy and the lack of demand.
HOW DO BUSINESS SURVIVE THIS PANDEMIC?
Because of an unprecedented and complicated situation of the event, there is not an easy answer delivered until now, hence, businesses must take steps to shield themselves from suffering long-term economic damage. Below is 6 suggestions for business of all shapes and sizes to take action:
- Keep your financial situation in check
Currently, the greatest concern for most business owners is how they are going to pay for their expenses and how long this situation will last. However, instead of finding answers to tough questions, there is something more urgent which needs to be done first to save the business.
– Create a cash-flow budget with fixed and variable costs. Build a list of prioritised things based on the importance level and try to save money on the timing of when they are due.
– Cut all unnecessary costs that aren’t needed to spend to secure key business functions.
– Even though employees are one of valuable assets of an organisation, in this situation, there are some options to be considered: layoffs, furloughs and terminations. Cutting down on the number of staff can considerably reduce the burden of costs for the business, however, a decision towards which options to choose and on whom to apply for might need to be taken thoughtfully.
- Innovate to adapt
There’s been a saying: in every dark cloud, there is a silver lightning. We are all going on a bumpy road full of challenges and difficulties, however, instead of being engulfed by negative things, why don’t we look into opportunities given in this uncertain time? Let’s ask yourself several questions: how can you help your clients and customers get through this? what commerce is actually taking place? how your business can adapt to fit into the pandemic?
In Vietnam, the owner of Vua Cua (a chain of five seafood restaurants) – Doan Anh Thu has turned to selling take-away steam buns stuffed with seafood after the restaurants were ordered to close temporarily to prevent the spread of the disease. Another example is iVIVU – a Vietnamese travel booking service, is now switching to food delivery since the outbreak of Covid 19, traditional businesses of iVIVU have virtually earned no revenue.
In the UK – a group of aerospace companies including Meggitt and Airbus and in the US – carmakers have shifted to manufacture ventilators. In Europe, companies including LVMH – the luxury goods conglomerate known for perfume and champagne, have produced hand sanitisers. German’s Nivea is making medical grade disinfectants as well.
New problems mean new markets and new opportunities and the market won’t stop as long as we don’t let it. Let’s engage everyone in your business to come up with new ideas and constantly change to overcome this dark cloud.
- Invest effort in digital platforms
*Retain customer relationship
Make sure to communicate clearly and update customers your activity status. Physical contact has been curbed for several months, therefore, digital channels have become an absolute solution to remedy the limitations. Use social media presence to interact with your customers and implement e-newsletter or emails communicating your ability to help customers through this time.
Furthermore, Covid 19 has changed customers’ purchase behaviours to online platforms leading to the reduction of in-store activity and the increase of e-commerce activity. Hence, it is vital to build an E-commerce website/application to give your business the edge in customer experience and satisfy their purchasing process. The platform must be well-function and customer-oriented design to give a seamless experience from scanning the products and services, taking orders, contacting the business, payment to delivery.
*Supply chain upgrade
The pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain and made it difficult for buyers to keep track with their suppliers. As a result of the outbreak, the knock-on effects have multiplied causing mass delay in all aspects of the supply chain. Therefore, there is an urgent need to digitise your tools and processes to upgrade your supply chain management system not only to go through this pandemic but also gain advantages after the crisis. A more distributed, coordinated and trackable supply of components across multiple geographies and vendors while securing the safety of information exchanged between suppliers and buyers is necessary which can be actualised through integrations of sophisticated technologies like 5G, blockchains, IoT.
- Improve and refine your business
Coronavirus pandemic has brought us some extra time to slow down, hence, let’s take advantage of this chance to tackle what has been putting off for a while. It could be improving your processes and efficiencies, learning and training new skills needed to drive the business forward, refining products and services as well as marketing research for new trends. Don’t do it on your own but engage teammates in all activities so as to strengthen and unify the whole organisation. Invest your time into improvement and you will be ahead after this pandemic.
- Follow the authority’s guidance and take care of employees
It is imperative that you follow policies regulated by the government and authority to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Make sure to communicate clearly to your employees regarding safety protocol including social distancing, working area cleaning and hygiene, hands washing, etc. Give employees some flexibilities on sick leave, and try to apply WFH (work from home) if possible to avoid mass gatherings.
These days, “Work from home” is one of policies applied by companies with a wide variety of supporting tools including:
– Slack: team collaboration and instant messaging
– Zoom: video conference
– Google suite: emails, document and file storage, shared calendar and more
– Jira: product development tracking
– Trello: project planning
Besides, there are numerous metrics in specific aspects including sales, marketing, HR, support which can be used effectively to measure the effectiveness of employees’ performance.
- Think long-term
The epicenter of the coronavirus has now been shifted to Europe and exponentially in the USA, causing non-stop damage to the global economy. At some point in the future, health officials will manage to contain the virus and the economy is going to redress the balance, however, your vigilance should not end there. This pandemic might be just one of many crises that we can cope with, therefore, let’s take this event to create a more comprehensive remote work policies and ways to boost productivity of the business and the people. A crisis can happen at any time and a survival business is the one that can adapt itself to fit into the situation.
We’re all living in unprecedented times and it’s undeniable that the pandemic has been crippling the economy, hence, it’s high time to take action without any hesitation. Let’s keep up high hopes and together we can combat this crisis. We hope that our suggestions can help you to overcome the pandemic. In case you need further consultation as how technology can boost the productivity and effectiveness of your business, feel free to contact us via:
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