Should entrepreneurs play by the book or experiment during a global crisis?

While it is prudent to follow the tried and tested formula in times of crisis, one shouldn’t be entirely risk-averse, for, fortune favours the bold.
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Today we are in the centre of a pandemic which is relatively novel to almost all the generations to date. Needless to say that the crises we are facing right now is multiple times more serious and uncertain as compared to the ones we have experienced in the past; hence, we were not even remotely prepared to handle a situation of this magnitude. Close to a year down this global crisis and we are still trying to comprehend as to how to work through it.

The pre-requisites for entrepreneurs during a pandemic

Assess your industry

It is an unstable economy currently; barring few industries, all others are undergoing a major transition.

There is a difference between experiencing failure and being stuck with an uncertain timeline. Weigh your pros and cons and accordingly choose whether you want to continue to combat or let it go.

Analyse your business model

Has your business model already proven itself? If it is an established one then be assured that your sacrifices shall be worthwhile, irrespective of the time required for this phase to end and the economy to revive. And if not, then it would be rational to close the business, even temporarily.

Evaluate your balance sheet

If you have access to a good reserve, then, decide if you want to continue investing in order to not just do damage control but to sustain the business as well at least for a certain period until you return to turning profits again.

Besides supporting your employees, you also need to support your family. If you have financial security on both these fronts, only then move forward.

How should entrepreneurs operate in this crisis?

Be selective about your risks

Entrepreneurs should experiment but strictly in the realm of possibilities, ensuring that the risks taken right now shall more or less lead to positive outcomes. Understand the market. Unlearn, relearn, and upskill in order to match the requirements of the ongoing situation.

Do not calculate the effort or time you spend on surviving during the crisis into the overall product or business cycle. You do not have a timeline for this; you just need to continue working for now

Revise your numbers

Rework on your numbers and targets for the next two years. Even if you are a business that is performing well in the pandemic, you still need to plan realistically considering that it is a global crisis.

Look into your monetary safety predominantly and have all your calculations in order; some of us might be back on square one and preserving what we have built so far is of utmost importance right now.

Restructure the processes

Look into your operations and reform the processes you have been implementing till date, businesses that were thriving pre-COVID-19 may now require additional time. Prioritise your resources here; focus more on the ones that directly contribute towards the business revenues. Pivot whenever absolutely needed and do it at the right time.

Organise a support group

Understand what other entrepreneurs and industries are doing at the moment, especially globally. Considering that few countries are in the revival mode, it shall give you the required guideline to help revive your business post-COVID-19.

Organise a support group of entrepreneurs; this is to help each other out with the exchange of ideas with respect to survival and growth. Take advice from industry experts who have a different outlook on the current situation and can guide you.

Build a COVID exit strategy

For a range of reasons, we see a need to raise your sights even beyond 2021 and to lead toward a COVID-Exit in 2022. That will include the following moves: Add a positive outlook to the range of scenarios in your 2021 plans; Anchor your 2022–23 plans on your 2019 trajectory rather than anything related to 2020–21; Launch all initiatives required to put your business on track for a COVID-Exit in 2022.

And finally, going forward do ensure that you have contingencies in place for shortfalls or unprecedented difficult situations. If you can start planning for it right now, then do that.

The ongoing pandemic has definitely changed the way the businesses operate and function today, it has brought in a new perspective towards the way of working. CB Insights shares elaborate research on how the pandemic is influencing and changing the economy in a different ‘normal’ way -- 24 Industries & Technologies That Will Shape The Post-Virus World.

In the past, we have witnessed many pioneers experiment in a new area that has now become a multi-trillion dollar industry. You take a risk, you fail, you learn, and grow till a problem is solved. Let’s look at this situation with the same solution.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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