The Covid-19 pandemic has had a widespread effect on businesses in ways that have caused huge layoffs, bankruptcy, reduction in the production of the units of goods or services offered, increase in price from suppliers, and change in the way work is done globally.
However, with this pandemic comes the opportunity to become innovative and creative, to serve market demands and the different unseen variables that have influenced the world of business today.
Start-ups lacked access to constant cash-flow as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and could only keep staff who worked directly in areas of priority that served the customers. Layoffs then became an option as without considering that solution, there would have been a backlog in the payment of salaries, thereby negatively affecting the company. The layoffs would also have affected the productivity of the limited staff as they had to work longer hours and perform more tasks than before, for the same wages.
Organizations that took off with initial investments or loans from financial institutions but could not sustain the repayment terms, as working capital got depleted and there was not enough traction to request a second tranche of investment, saw businesses go under as operations came to a grinding halt.
Reduction in the units of production
Consumers, as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, focused on just the essentials such as food, healthcare and education. Due to the increase in prices of foodstuffs and other items, consumers are cutting down their expenses as their earnings have not changed, thus impacting the usual quantities of items purchased; businesses had to adjust by either adopting production upon request only, to curb wastages, or production in limited quantities as general consumption dropped due to increase in price.
Increase in price from suppliers
The supply chain is an important loop that affects all stakeholders as they obtain directly from manufacturers and then sell to retailers before reaching the final consumers. The conditions leading to whatever form of change from the manufacturer affect the offering provided by the supplier and this goes on till everyone is impacted. Suppliers resorted to obtaining only what could be sold to the wholesalers which came in limited quantity as well.
Thriving in times of Covid-19 pandemic
Change is inevitable and only organizations that can adapt to the changing times remain sustainable in business. These are measures to ensure businesses keep running even under adverse conditions.
1. Adopt a remote work system
Start-ups have realized that the 5-day work week might not necessarily apply any longer, as their teams can now work from home and still get the job done. Majority of organizations now have a hybrid system of work where some staff work from home and others onsite; this ensures productivity as teams can now manage themselves without making the top management resort to micromanagement. Tasks such as data entry, phone calls, receipt and reply of emails, and online marketing can now be done by a remote team.
2. Implementation of a cloud-based storage system
The use of a cloud-based storage system might not have been easily adopted by a large percentage of businesses, however as covid-19 began to develop resistance and human-human interaction became limited, a cloud-based storage system became necessary, not just for storage of files but for collaborative work and easy referencing of stored documents.
3. Focus on cash-flow
Organizations get into a web of numerous activities that make them ignore their core. Inability to focus on their core then begins to bring irregularities in their revenue, and this flaw was only exposed during the covid-19 pandemic. Guaranteed cash-flow is the lifeblood of every business; even if it does not make profit initially, there is a huge possibility of breaking even eventually. Focus should be on every activity that can directly or indirectly lead to a generation of revenue for a business.
4. Data-driven decisions
Companies are trying to curb wastages that can occur in the application of their resources and are beginning to pay attention to the data being generated. Embedded in the customer’s data are insights that can lead to what quantity of items should be produced on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis based on the demand from using predictive analytics. Several tools can be used for collecting data for business purposes, and the most used are Google Forms, Google Analytics and Hubspot. The collected data can now be analyzed using specific tools in data science.
5. Adoption of wage earnings system
The era of weeks of work before earning a salary has also come under challenge as there is a rise in the demand for freelancers to perform certain tasks without having to provide medical care, workspace, internet services and all the offers that come with servicing a full-time staff. Companies need to decide on what roles demand full-time staff and the ones that demand freelancers, consultants or part-time staff.
Emmanuel Otori, the writer has worked on the GEM Project of the World Bank Bank, Conducted training for entrepreneurs and professionals at the Abuja Enterprise Agency and has over 8 years of experience of working with over 50 SMEs across Nigeria.
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