Lessons Learnt About Business During COVID This has been a testing period for small businesses as they had to revamp their entire business model to survive

By Arjun Bajaaj

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The pandemic has been an unforeseen situation for the whole world. It has brought about crisis and problems we have never experienced before and has exposed us to many unknown vulnerabilities. This has been a testing period for small businesses as they had to revamp their entire business model to survive. From trying to survive to overcoming various challenges such as lack of workforce, low demand and supply and no financial stimulus, many SMBs in India had to reconsider their operations.

However, along with the many challenges the pandemic has given us an opportunity and has also taught us to align, adapt and amend businesses as well reinforce the strategies so as to make the most of the ongoing situation. Clearly, it has also taught entrepreneurs like me, business lessons that shall be applicable and beneficial in the longer run, and here are some of them.

Empathize with your workforce

In these trying times, clear communication with all stakeholders of your business—employees, business partners, regulators, customers, etc.—is highly imperative. The key towards sustaining your business in this situation is being transparent with your stakeholders, and prioritising their needs. Apart from supporting the workforce and understanding the situation, you must support your workforce by encouraging them to learn and skill themselves with in house trainings and courses. Subsequently, the workforce too, must leverage these opportunities, upskill and reskill themselves and apply the same towards the collective business goals.

Learn to curb cost

Business, small or large, have equally faced the impact of the crisis and incurred heavy losses too. That being said, tough times like these also teach us many valuable lessons, and we have learned the hard way; that financial preparedness is a must. Hence it is critical to have financial backings; cut down on unnecessary expenses, smart invest, and have an adequate emergency fund. These things will ensure the survival of your business in the longer run. A long-term sustainability plan shall help brand to focus on short term survival goals, to be better prepared for any pandemic like situation in the future.

Advantages of remote working

While work from home was initially forced upon us, but we soon came to realize that remote working is indeed possible. With the necessary tools and resources, remote working resulted in a much more productive outcome, even more so than in an office environment. I feel we need to consider the long-term viability of remote working—not only will we will be prepared for another disastrous situation, but also it will help the workforce maintain their work-life balance in a better manner, indirectly resulting in a valuable outcome for the company. Your business will also save money, as some of the major expenses of running a full time office will be eliminated.

Leverage digital tools

This could be the most important lesson the pandemic taught businesses. The crisis has shown the importance of digitalisation, how it helps in building agility and quick response to the unexpected. Today digitalization is much more than just technology or a mere information technology protocol. Digital tools and virtual collaborative platforms have created a new framework of processes that enables rapid response to changing situations, for both disasters and opportunities. It has also majorly eased the communication process and brought clarity on each one's roles and responsibilities.

Scaling your digital presence

The situation established new processes for marketing and sales too. We cannot think of following the same marketing or sales process that we may be using pre-COVID, as it very evidently would not work in today's time and going forward as well. Physical touch points have been converted into digital touch points. Today, online presence is mandatory for any commerce provider today. Scale your online channels to reach a much wider audience. Offer your customers an integrated experience, be accessible and listen. Establishing a good digital presence today will prove beneficial for your business tomorrow.

Arjun Bajaaj

CEO & founder, Daiwa

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