Here’s what SMEs need to do before recommencing operations post-COVID-19
While the novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon the organised world, it has also ushered an opportunity for the new tides of transformation to emerge.
This evidently bleak situation where businesses and institutions have suffered substantial losses on account of the global pandemic also holds the potential for heralding a profound paradigm shift in the way businesses are imagined and defined, namely the shift from offline to the online digital medium.
While most organisations in the world have sanctioned their employees to work from the safety of their homes, there is still a lot of ground left to cover. There is an overwhelming gamut of businesses belonging to sectors, which have hitherto operated in a conventionally offline manner.
Industry types such as the manufacturing industries, retail operations, hospitality, mobility, etc., have always existed along the physical contours of operation.
While the big multinational corporations have the advantage of vast capital and resource to their disposal, small and medium enterprises benefit from their agile and more compact nature of working. Therefore, opportunities exist for both David and Goliath in this new world order to streamline their operational mediums to achieve seamless objectivity.
The lockdown has taught the entire business world a lesson in the survival of the fittest tactics and how best to leverage seemingly adverse conditions to one’s own gain. The government of India has brought in a surfeit of bailout packages, amended fiscal policies, rate cuts, loans, and waivers to rescue the ailing industries in the country.
It has also unequivocally championed the need for the nation to become self-reliant, besides heralding a slew of ingenious schemes such as the ‘vocal for local’, financial aid and an Rs 20,000 crore security reprieve. The centre is also endorsing the immediate need for businesses, academic institutions, and public sector units to immediately and effectively shift to online means of business to maintain market relevance.
Here is a slew of essential factors every SME and MSME must go through before recommencing their operations once the lockdown gets lifted.
Neutralise the scene
No matter the size, nature, or dimension, the primary concern for every business is to initiate an in-depth assessment of the existing company assets, its overall financial health and security aspects. As the pandemic has interrupted operations, productions and sales across frontiers, it is essential for companies to arrive at a realistic and holistic overview of the present situation in the face of the virulent pandemic.
The company leadership must resolve the various deficits, prospective inflow and outflow of capital, latent expenditures, and burdens. Obtaining dependable and actionable reports regarding the various respite from government, apex trade, and commerce bodies, investors are important before undertaking critical decisions such as pay cuts, scrapping of potential future investments, growth and expansion plans, etc.
Realigning your goals
Re-appraisal of all business blueprints is of the utmost essence for SMEs in the event of such an industrial setback.
The post-pandemic landscape is surely going to be different than the pre-COVID-19 days and businesses have to revamp and realign their planning and strategy for the future accordingly.
There is a need for a realistic and well-formed map for the road ahead while taking into consent the outlook of the various stakeholders of the company. The leadership should also reschedule the company objectives in accordance with the unprecedented coronavirus developments.
Reforming the annual execution plan can constitute a spectrum of diverse business variables such as suspension of funding rounds, forging new partnerships, or discontinuing unfavourable ones.
Embracing the digital
The current environment dictates that SMEs, as well as the smaller entities immediately switch to the digital pathways of business engagement and create a strong and veritable online presence. By tapping optimally into the potential of social media, businesses can even generate sales through interactions with peers and customers via online channels of communication.
This is the age of digital media marketing and entrepreneurs must harness it now, more than ever. Those organisations that have hitherto operated through offline modes should etch out a transition layout for the imminent digital future without compromising on employee efficiency or data safety.
The revolution must be live
The fourth industrial revolution is a well-timed boon indeed, a veritable blessing in disguise for businesses around the world. The latest technological disruptions such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), customer relationship management (CRM), cloud computing, and other innovations must be leveraged by even the SMEs.
Businesses should adapt to the fourth revolution of smart automation and invest appropriately to bestow a new-age tech-empowered operational facelift, thus thriving in the digital economy. Tech-empowered businesses have the edge over conventional competitors churning greater return on investment (ROI) and market performance even in the times of a pandemic.
Though the necessary investments for these overarching business augmentation and up-skilling may seem unfeasibly vast, it is an essential cost that must be undertaken considering the future consequences.
Businesses must execute optimum risk-mitigation strategies in the face of the pandemic and should also seek to acclimatise for any future crises.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)