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Unlocking Business

Unlocking Business

The lockdown caused by the pandemic has put tremendous pressure on almost all the business houses irrespective of their size, nature, and industry. Great uncertainty is looming around and businesses are gearing up on what actions can be taken.

If we observe the past, there have been pandemics, recessions, and economic slowdown. Be it after the World War II or with the onset of computerisation or even the Y2K era, fear and uncertainty was prevalent. Yet many businesses managed to navigate through these challenging times. So on a positive note, let us first believe that this too shall pass and we will emerge successful.

First as the business leader, you have to acknowledge that the lockdown is beyond your control. However, what was, what is and what will be under your control is the way you manage your business despite these testing times. Think about the various aspects of your business that you can control.

When the business is dissected, there are 8 major aspects. When all these 8 functions perform well, then the business can have its smooth operations and propel forward. If the business is a vehicle, these 8 functions are the wheels of the business. Here is list of thought stimulators for each of the functions.

Finance

In the current situation, you need to be in charge of the financial situation of your business.

  1. Take stock of your current liquidity position
  2. Look out for ways and means to improve liquidity.
  3. Assess your short-term working capital requirement
  4. Necessary remedial actions like deferring certain payments, preparing a complete financial analysis of your business, revamping business model (if required), segregating expenses as highly essential, essential and non-essential till your financial situation improves etc.  
  5. Take rational financial decisions. Calculate your return on expense (watch this)
  6. Explore possibilities of availing better credit terms, collection of dues, negotiations with Bankers etc.
  7. Prioritize legal and compliance matters as applicable to avoid interest and penalty charges
  8. Prepare a cash forecast for the next six months to a year

People

People are the most important asset of your organisation.

  1. It is essential to engage your teams meaningfully and give them the right sense of direction on the path ahead.
  2. Communicate and be transparent with the current position of the business
  3. Brainstorm together and build on various possibilities. Encourage new ideas.
  4. If required seek help of a mentor or a Coach.
  5. Exhibit compassion towards teams
  6. Freeze new hire if appropriate.
  7. Build a strong organisation culture. Remember if there is fear of layoffs, the best in the employees is not likely to come out.

Suppliers

You need to get a constant supply of materials and other essentials from all your suppliers and vendors for your business to be functioning efficiently

  1. If you have a good rapport with your suppliers, leverage on it
  2. Prepare age analysis of your suppliers and make a plan on the sequence of settlement.
  3. Seek extra time to settle bills if required. Make a firm commitment to the supplier and honour to it.
  4. Negotiate for better deals especially if you have the purchasing power
  5. Get comparative quotes to see which supplier or vendor can offer you the best deals without compromising on quality
  6. Widen your supplier base so that you are not relying on just one supplier.

Customers

Customers are the pillars of your business. Your customers’ wellness is important as they are the ones fuelling your growth.

  1. If any of your customers are in genuine trouble, extend discounts or credit facility to them during this time of need.
  2. Ask them to refer you to other potential clients
  3. Explore possibilities of cross selling to your existing customers
  4. Offer attractive, compelling and irresistible schemes to your customer
  5. Remember to follow up on your dues from your customers
  6. Provide options of settling dues in tranches

Marketing

This is essential especially if you are keen to grow your customer base.

  1. Take a call on whether you want to be bullish or bearish in marketing in this juncture
  2. Calculate the past and the current cost of customer acquisition. Set the ideal cost of acquisition in the current context.
  3. Instead of going overboard with your marketing spend, set limits
  4. Ensure your marketing is reaching your right target audience
  5. Set aside the required percentage of sales towards your marketing spend

Strategy

After the unexpected lockdown, it is important to come up with your strategic plan of action

  1. Define your strategy in line with your vision and mission
  2. Draw a revised business plan
  3. Set common goals and communicate to the teams
  4. Look out for effective collaboration, share resources etc.
  5. Big corporates and cash rich organisations can evaluate backward or forward integration, mergers and acquisitions etc.
  6. Assess and evaluate before having new product launches etc.
  7. Develop your risk mitigation strategy
  8. Keep yourself abreast on your industry happenings
  9. Be extra cautious with Investment decisions
  10. Define the Key Performance Indicators of your business

Operations

In the revival mode, business operations need to be smooth to ensure business continuity.

  1. Redraft your policies and procedures
  2. Focus on business efficiencies
  3. Encourage better productivity by effective utilisation of all resources
  4. Avoid delays and rework
  5. Think out of the box, ideate and repackage the current operations methods. Eg. If twice a week work from home is beneficial to both you and your employees, implement it.
  6. Strengthen your Business continuity plan as well as your disaster recovery plans.

Technology

We are in the digital era and it is good to take advantage of technology.

  1. Explore options to enhance online sales
  2. Evaluate cost effective technological options
  3. Identify areas where technology can speed up your processes / production
  4. Ensure prominent digital presence
  5. Conduct virtual meetings
  6. Decipher the past data and trends with help of technology. Based on these analytical results, devise the path ahead. 

Some General Pointers

At this juncture, display empathy in all your business relationships (employees, customers, suppliers etc.)

  1. Remember that building relationships has a long term benefit.
  2. Seek professional help in required areas
  3. Explore working out of co-working spaces if beneficial
  4. Develop a business storyboard on the next steps. Include the financial aspect under each.
  5. Encourage team spirit
  6. Reinvent if required
  7. Do the right stuff for your business so that the future is brighter
  8. Keep the faith. Anchor on spirituality or whatever works for you
  9. Develop the right mindset to overcome the present situation
  10. Fix small goals that can lead you to the bigger goal
  11. Utilise the lockdown period to reflect, learn and plan the path ahead

sss.coach | https://www.linkedin.com/in/sangeetasumesh/