Avoid high risk transactions even if they seem more profitable, advises Alok Sharma, CEO, Shycocan Corporation.
The year 2020 has taught us the importance of keeping us and our families safe.
Lockdowns seem a way of life at present times. However, from a business point of view, it has been a mixed bag.
Some businesses have stood to gain from the pandemic, while many others have found it difficult to stay afloat in the 'new normal'.
If anything, we've lost more livelihoods than lives during this pandemic and we can't afford to do that anymore.
Entrepreneurs come with various leadership styles to combat unprecedented situations, however, focus needs to be maintained not only on business continuity but also on growth opportunities.
As the pandemic continues to surge at periodic intervals; businesses are yet to get back to normalcy.
If you are an entrepreneur during these difficult times, it is important that you pivot towards an innovative thinking approach to keep the business growing.
As said, entrepreneurs are most resilient and nimble footed, however, this might not be enough during these trying times.
It is imperative to explore all possible options and opportunities to grow the business.
Below is my take and a few tips for Entrepreneurs through my journey as one.
1. Take a strategic look at your business
It is very important to understand how your customers' needs have changed in the pandemic and as a result what opportunities it can bring in for your organisation to serve their needs better.
Revisit the SWOT analysis of your business keeping in mind the new normal.
People's lives and priorities have changed due to the times we live in and hence the customer profile you once had, may no longer be valid.
You may be surprised by the opportunities the situation presents to transform your business during the pandemic and beyond.
2. Cash is king
Managing cash flow is even more important during the pandemic than ever before.
Keep a clear focus on your most profitable customers who pay you in a timely manner.
Avoid high risk transactions even if they seem more profitable.
It is important to keep a very strict financial discipline and focus on the possibility of raising funds through investment, debt or any other financial instruments.
However, keep costs under check and align them to the revenue streams. Focus on collections and track the DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) like a hawk.
3. Data and technology management for business continuity
Data safety and security is critical. In the current times, cloud is the answer to keep your data secure and easily accessible as and when required.
Smart IT investments like laptops, mobile devices, collaboration tools, data migration and video meeting software are absolute key to ensure business continuity.
4. Staff health and wellness
Your employees are the backbone of your business.
Keep them covered under insurance and ensure that you provide a safe environment for them at the workplace.
Enrol them for the vaccine and help them deal with any untoward situations that may arise in their lives or their families.
During these times it is important to keep all channels of communication open with them and show empathy towards their needs.
For example, the Tatas announced an incredible scheme recently where they will continue to pay the last drawn salary of any employee who lost her/his life to the virus till retirement age to her/his family.
5. Embrace new technologies for viral defence
A new category of devices for 'viral defence' is in the early stage of market adoption.
These devices will be a standard installation for the safety of your business establishment and as essential as air-conditioning or lighting.
Many products have been introduced in this category with claims about providing protection from the coronavirus.
You need to select a device based on the uniqueness of its technology, bio-safety and viral defence efficacy.
6. Stay relevant
This is very important not only for your organisation, but also for you.
During these times, drop in pace around us has made spare time available to us which can be effectively used for learning.
This is the best time for you and your employees to reinvent themselves. Focus on picking up skills that are important for you to grow to the next level.
Find time to focus on coaching, training, and motivating your staff.
On the business side, stay relevant both on the product side and the marketing side. Find ways to ensure there is a newfound relevance for your brand given the current situation.
Look at innovative schemes and offers for your customers thereby keeping them interested and engaged.
7. Network from home
You don't have the luxury of stepping out to network with partners, customers, and prospective clients anymore. But that doesn't mean you should stop networking.
Focus on relationships that will help you both in the short and long term.
Collaborate with other business owners to find news to reinvent your offerings.
Stay in touch with your customers through phone and video calls.
Join relevant forums and discussions that are happening virtually to increase your network base. When business is back to normal, these will come very handy in the next phase of growth.
8. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is even more relevant today and is rapidly evolving.
You may need to be social media savvy and learn how your business can leverage it. Use these skills to reach out to relevant audiences online with the same impact.
9. Focus on mental health
Mental health is the most important during these challenging times.
Make time for recreation, virtual team bonding games etc for you and your employees.
Adopting a 5-day week really helps and if that’s not possible, get the staff in on rotation to ensure that they get the required time off.
Ensure that the pressure doesn't get to them where they can't differentiate between personal and office time.
Mental fortitude is very critical to overcome the challenges we face today, and we need to build it with great care and concern.
Go easy on yourself and stop being critical during these times.
And keep your chin up. The most successful entrepreneurs I know are all eternal optimists.
That's part of the JD. Let's bring life back to normal, and normal back to business!