Navigating Through Cold Waters: How Businesses Can Prepare For A Post COVID-19 Future This is a period of slowdown; however, an opportunity can change everything. As such, doing this exercise of what is life going to be like after the COVID-19 pandemic becomes extremely important.

By Adriana Usvat

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We all know that there is life after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We also know that most governments around the world are doing whatever they can to limit and minimize the effects of the virus. While managing the current health crisis and its impact on our businesses is our first priority, we also need to prepare for the mid- and long-term effects of the current situation, as well as seek opportunities that can help us develop and overcome the crisis stronger and better. As business leaders, here are a few aspects you should keep in mind, at least through the short term:

1. Determine your cash flow A very important part of what we are focusing on, and probably the most important, is our cash flow. We are looking in detail at all aspects that impact our cash flow– price, volume, cost of sales, overheads, receivables, payables, and understanding which elements are the most sensitive for our business. Accordingly, we are developing action plans and worst-case scenario planning. Cost management is another key aspect for us during this period, and here, we are looking at avoiding unnecessary expenses, renegotiating prices with vendors/suppliers, and temporary compensation reductions as well. We are also trying to defer or extend payments with landlords and vendors, as well as to focus on the collection of dues and payments.

2. Invest in the future In this uncertain context, the tendency may be to wait, and see how the situation evolves. Or we can invest our time on other important tasks not impacted by the crisis that were, however, ignored before. It can be, for example, adminrelated tasks, development of new ideas, or more team-bonding- these will all help our businesses in the future. It is also a good time for reflection on things that work well in our system, and things that could work better, as well as on things that were previously done when everyone were together in an office, and in the future, could be done remotely. On a medium- to long-term basis, we are looking at how to reinvent the business, as well as what are the additional business opportunities. This includes finding out how we can innovate, how we can improve our competitive positions and find new growth areas.

Related: Rethinking Business: A Look At How Some Enterprises In Dubai Are Transforming Themselves In Response To the COVID-19 Pandemic

3. Build up your and your team's skillsets In the business that I run, keeping our staff motivated and involved has been a priority for us, and this is why we went about organizing a series of trainings on different subjects meant to further build their skillsets. These have been done on topics like how to prepare presentations, public speaking or presenting in front of a client/team, negotiation skills, new trends in the industry, all of which are extremely helpful both for them and the business in the long run.

4. Keep calm and work together In times like these, it's absolutely integral that we continue to keep our calm- panic will not get us out of this situation, nor will continuous thinking on what we cannot control. To add to that, being calm will give us the clarity we need, and also make our teams feel confident that better times shall come. After all, we need to remove negative thoughts in order to challenge ourselves to think of positive outcomes, and thus build innovative measures and solutions that will help us once this crisis is over. In times like these, participating in different Zoom meetings with
likeminded people to share experiences and lessons through the course of this COVID19 pandemic is also something that will go a long way. At the very least, we know we are not alone in this. At the same time, we also believe this is a good time to discuss strategic partnerships with fellow agencies, as well as with suppliers.

I am a strong believer that in crisis situations, we learn how to be creative. This is why we are ensuring our resources across departments enhance their skills, and then have them be trained to be ready for the future. At FLC Group, we started our company during the recession of 2008, and we always believed that while times are tough, amazing advantages are being brought by a slowdown– be it in terms of costs of rentals, staff, suppliers, talent availability, or simply focusing on growth while others are focusing on sustaining. One of the things that we have already done as a business during this time is launching our India operations.

This is a period of slowdown; however, an opportunity can change everything. As such, doing this exercise of what is life going to be like after the COVID-19 pandemic becomes extremely important. As Warren Buffet put it: "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy, and to be greedy only when others are fearful."

Related: Four Tips To Align Your Businesses With A Post COVID-19 World

Adriana Usvat

Managing Partner, FLC Group, and member, UAE Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization

Adriana Usvat is the Managing Partner of FLC Group, and a member of the UAE Chapter of Entrepreneurs Organization. 

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