Business Survival – Thinking Ahead in COVID-19 Times

COVID-19 has taken over our thinking and has put all of us on high alert. We are all concerned and worried for the welfare of our loved ones, close and distant friends and neighbours. As businesspeople we are also worried for the future of our businesses and of our employees.
What we know so far is that COVID-19 will hit a high percentage of the population. The truth is that until a vaccination programme that covers the whole population is available (and this will take several months to produce), then COVID-19, is with us for the longer haul (as at the time of writing, in countries like the US and the UK, there is now mention of social distancing measures for up to 18 months), causing major health, economic and social disruptions. This interesting article by Roberto Buffagni on Arianna Editrice gives an account of how different countries have handled, or are handling, the situation and also on the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic. Businesses, therefore, must adapt to a situation that will take long to stabilise.
We have recently published an article outlining 10 points that may help businesses to survive this expected, prolonged economic crisis. Today we attempt to give these 10 points some chronology, to demonstrate how they can be tackled in the short, medium and longer term. We will not discuss all the points, but the focus will be on the more critical ones.
You will probably agree that immediate attention needs to go on Cutting costs, securing Cash Flow and ensuring that your supply chain is still available. Without the latter two, your business cannot continue to provide products or services and pay for its bills. In terms of cutting costs, unfortunately, we have met businesses who, due to a sudden, drastic drop in customer flow and sales, have had to make some of their employees redundant. Others have practically paralysed their operation and their employees are out on vacation leave. These are immediate short-term measures and such measures may seem effective. However, we invite you to think beyond, these immediate days.
In the medium term, the survival of your business will probably depend on your creativity. You need to find ways to ensure business continuity and to keep providing and selling your services. We have all seen the obvious, immediate reactions of many businesses adapting themselves by providing teleworking for employees, providing home deliveries and shifting to provide online services. We have seen webinars and online training increasing and we are seeing an increase online classes including gym classes. These are all very positive, good initiatives, in the right direction but we at CMG Consulta, believe that businesses need to think beyond that in order to survive the pandemic and beyond. Businesses need to think about the impact on their clients and need to ask questions such as. Who will your client be in 3 months’ time? Where will s/he be? Will the business have new types of clients? Will the effect of the pandemic and social distancing have created needs and behaviours that aren’t with us today? It is difficult to predict everything, but you can make some safe assumptions. This excellent briefing note from McKinsey gives a good insight as to how things will be in a global economic slowdown and is among the masses of literature and research that can help businesses make these safe assumptions and base their reinvention upon.
In these days please behave ethically. Do not exploit vulnerable people who are desperate and in need and do not overcharge. In the longer term, think about your reputation. In a year’s time, your people, your clients and your competitors will recall your actions and decisions of today. At the same time, if your expenses increased because of your supply chain do not hesitate to communicate it!
Without in any way minimising its human impact and the sterling work of the multitudes of health professionals combating it and protecting us all, the COVID-19 pandemic is not something that will go away very quickly. The impact on our businesses and economies is already, and will be more significant, so it is up to us, as businesspeople, to think beyond the immediate and prepare our businesses for the next wave through and beyond COVID-19. Please reach out to us for a free consultation if you would like to explore possibilities and options in order to sustain your business into the future.