Prepare your business for the unexpected | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Prepare your business for the unexpected

20 June, 2021

Let’s do a rundown of what businesses have learned from the pandemic.

Pandemic goes on with no time horizon to end it. The world has changed dramatically. For most of us, this may be the first crisis of this magnitude we have faced while we all have had ups and downs in business over the years.

Whether it’s the first time or not we all have to confront this issue alike. The impact was immediate for some companies, slower for others, but none of us can say that Covid-19 did not have an impact at all except telecommunication, delivery services and medical that naturally expanded the markets by default.

None of us imagined two year ago what we would have to face in a few months time. With all the knowledge the world has – we do not even have a vaccination that guards us fully from the risk. So we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. We may have to live this life and operate our business for a longer period than we wish.

Prior to the Covid-19 breakout, none of us imagined our everyday work to be done mostly or completely online, from home. None of us imagined that we would exclusively have online meetings, online calls, online events, online training, online campaigns and so on. None of us imagined we could do business without travelling. The realisation offers many business lessons in terms of optimising resources - remove fat – extra ordinary efficiencies.

Ultimately in business the forced situation helped optimise our work flows and businesses to be more efficient.

Businesses from various areas were terribly damaged. The lockdowns shut down the entire hospitality industry. Travelling outside the country was forbidden. Airports were almost empty. Everything happened almost overnight. A large part of every economy stopped. Export oriented economies found markets crashing. Supply chain networks crippled at least in the short term.

Given all these factors, most companies had to make decisions quickly: employee safety was first on the list, so most of them had to act fast regarding remote working programs. Software companies and those selling digital goods were among the luckiest ones. Most of them already had programs for remote work, but had to quickly extend them to all their employees for a longer period of time.

The business should go on. Companies needed to assure themselves that revenues wouldn’t plummet. So, they had to assess their strengths and weaknesses in this totally new situation, change procedures, processes and workflows, create new products or even reinvent themselves—and do all of this as fast as possible to sustain cash-flows .

In a post-Covid world, companies have, therefore, learned that it always helps to be prepared for the unexpected. If not all of us were working with contingency or crisis plans prior to 2020, businesses now understand they have to have these flows ready, for when situations of force majeure occur.


Employees’ and customers’ safety comes first. This is fairly easy to manage if you follow sanitation guidelines, and online businesses can consider themselves lucky. But, even so, all the measures you have to take can put some pressure on your company’s finances. Finding a way to get most of your employees to work from home, in a safe way, might mean that you have to instantly spend lakhs of rupees on acquiring laptops, webcams and headphones, or pay a large subscription for a good video conferencing solution.

The next priority, during such a crisis, is survival of the business. As most businesses were impacted by Covid-19, they had to quickly readjust and find out what products or services are more profitable, what channels get more customers, what campaigns get more leads and so on. The activity, product or service that delivers less profit should be put on hold for the moment.

The priority is to get your business into a better shape day-by-day. Make a quick assessment of development plans. Focus on those that can offer your company a quick advantage over your competitors. Now, more than ever, businesses understand that not all directions they’re pursuing are priorities, and many are deciding to shift focus and resources to areas with the most resilience and revenue potential.

Reinvent yourself

Lot of companies have had to reinvent themselves in various ways: find new channels to interact with the customers, find new market opportunities, create new products to address new needs, modify their manufacturing facilities, find new selling channels or think of new campaigns and promotions to cope with declining sales. The pandemic was the trigger that got entrepreneurs understanding that they have to employ creativity and differentiation in everything they do, forcing businesses to get out of their comfort zone. If you are a company providing cleaning services, logically no property management company needs you until the people get back to offices. Worse, people may not accept you in their homes anymore until this pandemic is over. So, you have to reinvent your entire business. One option is to turn from cleaning to sanitising and try to find clients in retail and healthcare.

If you produce cosmetics, you can produce hand sanitisers. If you are in the fashion business, maybe you should focus on manufacturing facemasks with style and sell them online. There are many ways for businesses to reinvent themselves.

A good example of reinventing oneself comes from the event industry.

Live entertainment took a hit like few other industries when the pandemic started, social distancing forcing organisers to cancel upcoming concerts, theatre shows, on-premise workshops, weddings, networking sessions, you name it. Some players in this industry, however, were quick to jump out of their comfort zone.

By adapting their portfolios and focusing on building online experiences and events, they retained parts of their markets. Instead of inviting audiences to an indoor or outdoor venue, they started working with online conference rooms or digital hangouts. These companies understood that the market context offered the opportunity to address new needs so they reinvented themselves to stay relevant to their audiences.

Permanent changes

The Covid-19 crisis not impacted only specific industries. We could say it has brought permanent changes to how all of us do business nowadays. For example, think back to how a B2B sales process would occur in the past. Now consider today’s context – are those flows still applicable? The pandemic arrived and re-shaped the selling process in all industries and markets. Physical touch-points had to be adapted and automated, and entrepreneurs large and small had to digitise and optimise their selling flows.

So, a crisis lesson many us had to learn the hard way is that an online presence and point of sale are mandatory for any commerce provider today.

One big positive for business organisations and employees is that when pushed against the wall - you are forced to perform the impossible. Some changes you have made or are experiencing may have been big dreams in the normal world – but in the new normal world very same activities have become possible. Those who decide to incorporate those changes into the system for the long term will be better placed to win the ‘next normal world’.