To rise above tough situations is what makes mankind so special. And the COVID-19 pandemic is indeed an unprecedented situation that has forced businesses to re-think their marketing and profitability strategies, so that they can deal with the sudden decline in demand in a positive manner. Owing to lockdowns, an uncertain employment scenario and several safety measures in place, it is time to stay calm and evaluate your business and its possibilities in a whole new light.
So, conduct a judicious assessment first. List down your fixed and variable costs and determine all areas you can cut back on. Eliminate unnecessary expenditure, and focus only on essentials. This will free up more working capital. Don’t just track your own bills—follow up on vendor repayments, or any customers who owe you for your services.
Unless absolutely essential, avoid downsizing. These are difficult times for all, and employees who feel supported, can bring a lot to the table. Experienced staff can manage combined workloads, while junior employees, who are energetic, can deliver a high degree of passion and commitment—perhaps, even innovation—during this crisis.
If a department isn’t essential for daily operations, consider sending its employees on furlough. Look at new sources of funding, or explore bank loans (e.g. instant cash loans, invoice discounting, and working capital loans). Traditional lenders might be wary of disbursing loans, but many fintech firms are willing to release funds in smaller amounts with flexible repayment periods. However, be sure of your repayment capacity, as you surely don’t want to get saddled with multiple debts.
Follow government guidelines on health and safety, and incorporate them into your manufacturing, handling, and delivery processes. While profits are important, you must pay enough attention to employee welfare too.
Implement remote work policies if your daily functions can be location-neutral. For essential service workers, ensure the availability of protective gear like face masks, sanitisers, face shields, bodysuits and separate changing and disposal areas. Avoid all unnecessary gatherings, and shift all in-person communications to secure digital platforms.
Show solidarity, and share valuable information with your target audience. In case your team has limited resources or marketing knowledge, consult an agency. Seasoned professionals can relieve business owners from the hassles of ideation and clear up space for more central decision making.
Revisit your policies, marketing strategies, employee tactics and product/service catalogue to identify areas of improvement. Locate your profit and growth centres, and areas showing continued deficits. Help your employees to improve their skills with online modules, webinars and remote training courses to fill in any knowledge gaps. You could even consider leadership courses to improve your abilities as the face of the company.
Restaurants can recover losses using delivery, drive-through or take-out options, while fitness centres can design staggered workout and diet plans to reel in customers of all ages. Find your silver lining—even if it’s unheard of—and see how you can leverage it. You might become an opinion leader in your category too!
To round off, a company’s agility and ability of meeting product shortages can build goodwill and brand reputation. Newer forms of manufacturing can also provide employment to displaced factory workers and others who have faced layoffs. During a crisis, being part of the solution is essential. Though they’re not part of your central revenue plan, they can present new opportunities to sustain operations.
All in all, stay calm and look at the big picture. Your focus as an entrepreneur right now should be to keep things running with minimal impact on your staff and customers. While Iris offers management consulting in UAE, we can also schedule online consultations with clients across the world. So, get expert opinion on business consulting and devise bespoke strategies that will help your company to emerge as a success when times improve.