The year 2020 has been challenging for all the businesses, globally. Due to the spread of the unusual coronavirus COVID-19. That has led to the supreme crisis in countries across the world. The crisis has had serious impacts on all aspects of human life. Involving how people communicate, work, produce, trade, consume, or even live. The medical and the economic ramifications of the pandemic have hit the people. This intense pandemic has brought an unexpected slowdown to the entire world. It has resulted in a planet-wide deceleration.
Affecting trade, investment, growth, as well as employment. With employees and customers staying indoors, and many shutdowns, the small companies that provided 70% of jobs in countries around the world have been affected at large. For small firms or start-ups, there is no straight source of income through which they can survive. For instance, cab service, accommodation or food services, and tourism. The expense of paying the employees for such firms becomes a serious issue. As there are almost zero cashflows into the company.
As per a WTO survey, it is estimated that world merchandise trade in 2020-2021 could fall, between 13% to 32%. Estimated global losses in GDP growth is also expected to be around 10 percentage points. Apart from addressing the health crisis, the government of each country is introducing policies and plans to help cope with the financial risks or business implications. This way, they are trying to reduce the dismissals, avoid any bankruptcy, boost investments, and help economies get back and running in the aftermath of the crisis.
Many regions or sectors across countries were affected by production stoppages through their links to global supply chains. It included disruption in machinery, plastics, and rubber, chemicals, even electronic equipment. Such sectors experienced the biggest export declines. Also, to production, supply chain, or exports, smaller firms faced challenges in basic cashflow, employee payment, wage payment for remote staff, office bills, and the drop in team workforce’s morale.
Due to the pandemic, the sales or services being zero, depression in demand has hit the small businesses or start-ups, even as the health emergency eases, business ventures will remain low due to run down savings. Households may also reduce spending to compensate for the lower incomes during the pandemic period. Making the confidence among consumers as well as businesses pretty low.
With no cash flow, any previous revenue being utilized to keep the processes running and paying the employees, the big point in issue is,
how can start-ups survive in this lockdown crisis?
Ways to Ssurvival
As the pandemic began, start-ups acted by taking safety measures to protect employees and customers against the infection and informed customers whether the business or service was going to shut down for the while. Many businesses also reached out for support from the government. Even other company support networks. Beyond the basic measures, each firm took an approach best suited to their business. To help start-ups or small companies to survive the lockdown crisis.
Let’s have a look at them;
- Emergency Measures – In this response, companies have taken up strategies to having laid-off employees, sold assets, or took on new debt to cope with the COVID-19. These being emergency measures towards survival.
- Flexibility – This competitive approach builds the adaptive capacity of business during any sudden change, like the effects of the pandemic. Here they learn how to adjust and start to take advantage of each new round of change. It scales down the business for a while, in a manner that will allow it to resume later on, for example, by moving to back-up products, suppliers, or even markets. For instance, shifting the sales towards online networks or sourcing from new suppliers. Even using telework.
- Exploit – Another approach is to take advantage of the risk, no matter how new it is. This may include customizing business models or proposing new products according to the modern market trends. For instance, creating new products and services like designer masks, supplying protective care items, or provide essential goods and services to the customers. Here being a small business is an advantage. Because it’s simpler for smaller firms to take swift decisions. And develop new products too.
- Cash and Communication – In this measure, firms juggle finances and budgets, accept a loan for a start-up business and even help from support groups but make sure their employees are paid. And are assured their jobs will remain intact. So, they can contribute to business continuity, even in the future. Keeping employee morale unharmed.
- Brainstorming – Having team brainstorms to build up a project idea. To get some internal cash flow is a radical option. Like, going for subscription or membership plans for your products or services, bringing new revenue models along with a new possible customer base.
For example, a start-up developed a contactless thermal-scanning kiosk. The kiosks use artificial intelligence technology in facial and thermal scanning to detect any persons with high temperatures and those not wearing masks. The idea was to have an unmanned booth that can scan and manage entrances to public areas. Even provide hand sanitization. These were designed to integrate with other access control systems and also double up as contactless attendance solutions that replace existing fingerprint-based check-ins. The start-up saw demand from housing societies too. Especially, who want to screen frequent visitors like maids, drivers, and cooks.
- Digital Presence – Developing business with a social media presence can also be an excellent strategy. Utilizing the employees for such a strategy will also keep them engaged. Even teaming up with start-up app development company. To create easy and hip apps for your business. For instance, Wow! Momo Foods, a grocery arm partnered with brands such as ITC, Nestle, Emami, and P&G to deliver essentials across categories such as vegetables, fruits, dairy, FMCG products, sanitary, & wellness items. The company also tied up with Swiggy to get listed on their grocery platform.
Start-ups need to focus their attention on the two crucial facets of their businesses. Their employees and their customers. They need to adopt a business strategy keeping the purpose of the company as the chief decider. The leaders engage with their employees to talk about the situation at hand. And the steps being taken to handle such a crisis. Complete transparency and a clear roadmap for the future to be shared with all.
Start-ups also need to direct energy to identify opportunities that will help them keep their customers and get some new ones too, in the short term, and to build trust in the long run. Investors need to be shown a clear course of action to recover from this crisis. That is, with a strategic and rational plan.
Embracing the New Normal
Start-ups are known to be more agile, used to the regular ups and downs in their business cycle. Taking a mid-course correction is not a very challenging mission for them. It is very well known that now, surveillance around health and hygiene will become the new normal. Start-ups need to keep their efforts channeled towards keeping costs low, stay put, see opportunities in allied activities which are witnessing growth, like getting into grocery delivery, making sanitizers or masks, and so on. Even, providing home delivery service depending on your location. Or keeping options online and customized for customers here on.
For instance, customers may prefer a short drive to a nearby destination rather than a long-distance holiday, so start-up app development offering ticketing or hotel options need to add such choices to their services. The new normal can be one that emphasizes resilience to change and unexpected situations, grips the possibilities offered by digitalization, prioritizes inclusiveness and leads to sustainable growth at a further end.
Diversifying, teleworking, remote learning, teleconferencing, online services, e-commerce, and digital payments have all aided in keeping the businesses alive. For example, Portea Medical, best start-up business, in-home medical care provider, offers with stay-at-home nursing, increasing the duration of nurses staying with patients, along with COVID testing protocols in place, and even services like home chemotherapy. Teleconsults have also gone online, with patients unable to visit doctors. This brings out great ideas for online start-ups by the digitization of such tasks.
Smaller firms or start-ups will now need to focus on diversifying sales to new buyers and high-quality markets, review and adjust cash flow forecasts, training, and facilitating innovative solutions with collaborative digital tools and technologies. The aim is to encourage small firms to use digital tools. To cope with the crisis and thrive from any new opportunities.
They have to work on fostering relationships by refining communication with customers and employees. They should cultivate resource efficiency by channelizing their investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. For instance, enhancing water and energy consumption through smart technologies and engendering energy from waste products.
The economy has been eclipsed by COVID-19. The start-ups must direct themselves right, to see the sunshine again. Cautious monitoring of input use can help to lessen the functioning costs. Many have faced the challenge of surviving the impacts of the lockdown. And the ongoing economic uncertainty. It is now time to navigate the business out of the sputter and back to operating in the new market. To consider these issues may help to give your business the post lockdown healing.