As the deadly virus, Coronavirus, continues to wreak havoc across the globe, business leaders around the world face several anxieties – how severe is the COVID -19 pandemic going to be, by when will the situation normalise, how severe will the impact be, what should the organisations currently do, and several others. The sudden collapse of economic activities due to the Coronavirus outbreak has created a critical situation for many Indian small and medium businesses as it has raised existential questions. Understanding the current state of mind of SMB owners, Mr. Tridiv Das, Founder of Creative Factor Group, who is himself a SMB entrepreneur, says, "small business owners have a lot to deal with in the current situation. We need to make quick decisions while keeping in mind various aspects related to the health and safety of our team members, enabling working from home, engaging with our customers, looking at the cash flow and burn."
Though these businesses want the government to come to their rescue with proactive relief measures, it might take some time for even the government to help them ride the crisis as the entire nation has been hit by the outbreak. With the situation changing by the day, business owners and leaders are taking several measures at their individual and business levels to survive through the crisis. We at CEO BottomLine asked a few small and medium business owners on – “How should SMBs respond to the current situation of crisis?” Let’s take a look at their point of views.
Mr. Sameer Srivastava, Founder & CEO of The Sales Element says, “The coronavirus outbreak has left businesses scrambling to minimize disruption and effectively communicate information to employees. In times of natural disaster or worldwide pandemics, there is little to no advance warning. Each situation is unique. That’s why it’s critical that businesses have plans in place to maintain essential functions and keep employees safe when disruption hits. Communication is going to be crucial in the upcoming weeks. Crisis Management communications requires rapid, coordinated execution. As the coronavirus spreads, employees are being asked to practice social distancing and work from home. And with many schools across the country closing, the working parents are facing a difficult adjustment - focusing on their job while looking after their children. Working from home can be challenging. Working from home with children is going to be a whole new ballgame.”
Mr. Abhinav Agarwal, CEO & Founder of Crossbeats says, “The current situation around the pandemic is something no business has faced before. It’s a black swan event and there is a lot of uncertainty and concern around the globe. As a SMB, the challenges ahead are unique and we need to be prepared to navigate the difficult times ahead. First and foremost, businesses need to understand that the health and safety of their employees is paramount and any actions can have major implications on the local community. A policy should go out encouraging work from home as much as possible and if there are situations where this is not possible, the business should ensure they are taking all measures for safety of their employees. And if anyone is not feeling well, they should be asked to stay home and recover. The business also has a moral duty towards the consumer it serves. It should proactively communicate to its consumers the steps that the organisation is taking to minimize any exposure to the pandemic and that the safety of the consumer and the products or services is the biggest priorities for the business. We need to be upfront about the impact the situation can have on the experience of the consumer and supporting services. For some businesses, the pandemic may cause substantial revenue loss. The business should try to adapt and come up with ways to survive the next few months. This could mean giving employees unpaid leave or shifting cash payments to later months or even explore government funding.
Mr. Subhashish Bharuka, Founder of NUTTYFOX strongly believes ‘Planning’ and ‘Forecast’ are two key things businesses should follow in order to respond better during situations of crisis. “Current situation allows small businesses to plan the next steps. For the next few weeks businesses are going to go through a chaotic time. However it’s important to utilise this time to plan every aspect of business - Financial, Human Resource, Marketing, and others.”
To conclude Mr. Tridiv Das says, "I, however, believe that in such chaos, we must think from the heart and feel from our brain. Firstly, we must accept that we are human and need to remain so. Priority is to keep the team safe. Next is to enable us to work from home, and the third is to make sure everyone has food and other essentials at home, because only if the team is safe, we are safe. We are then looking at customers, living up to our promise and credentials, and focusing on how we should support our clients and customers - working out a contingency plan along with the team for improving cash flow and finding new market opportunities. Establishing a working atmosphere in a virtual workplace and work from home is not as easy as it seem, it needs a sudden cultural change which impacts our mental health, we need to handle that too.”
Write to us in the comment section below to find ways to scale your organisation by leveraging the industry best practices even during the current situation of uncertainty and crisis.Image Credits: Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash