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How should regional businesses float to the other side of Covid-19?

How should regional businesses float to the other side of Covid-19?

As the world battles the pandemic, now is the time to prime your processes, become more customer-centric, and restructure your offerings

A man goes into a coma in January, miraculously recovers in April the same year. Upon waking up, he asks his friend, “What did I miss?”.

His friend responds: “We lost one of the greatest basketball players of all time and the world was devastated…and then it was either a raw bat or very strong 5G that sent the world into a global pandemic, which mainly affects the elderly…and while 40 per cent of the world is scared…another 40 per cent calls it fake and 20 per cent blame one another (depending on where they are from) for creating it in a lab to increase their exports!”

This and many more such scripts and memes are making rounds across social media. It cannot be denied that most of us were oblivious to the effects Covid-19 would have up until a few weeks ago, and now here we are rethinking strategies by the hour if not the minute.

Upon recovery from the initial shock, I began to analyse the situation and what it would take for a business to emerge afloat on the other side of this crisis. Some indicators to aid with a forward strategy are:

Are you agile?:
Do you have the ability to mobilise, design, and respond to change in real-time?

Easier said than done in some cases – while gyms were quick with the switch to virtual workouts and and retailers went heavy with their online presence, what do businesses that fall within discretionary expenditure do?

Right now is the time to prime your processes, become more customer-centric (if you weren’t already), restructure your offerings and redefine your focus.

Remain relevant:
I certainly hope that this point was a part of everyone’s initial strategy when setting up shop, but it always helps to revisit the question.

Are we making a difference to the way things are done? Are we addressing a problem statement?

While for Louis Vuitton, hand sanitisers for Italy were a CSR initiative, the Tunisian Taxi startup IntiGo has temporarily re-positioned itself as a delivery service and for a mere $4/hour, will deliver groceries and other products to your door.

Prioritise your people:
While there are some spurts of positive news and every now and then, there are a few laughs being shared on social media…rest of the times the pandemic is doing a fairly good job at maintaining the air of doom and gloom.

In all fairness, it is, in fact, the air of uncertainty that is the real cause of depression many are feeling at the moment. As an organisation, it is one’s responsibility to communicate with clarity and honesty.

I once read somewhere, that employees prioritise being treated fairly and with regard far above and ahead of finances. So clear and consistent communication becomes even more paramount during times like these for the sake of your team’s morale, as all your strategies will rest on the confidence that they have in the organisation.

Irrespective of the nature of your business, your team is your most prized asset at this time – treat them accordingly.

Be very visible:
It is often that in times of trouble, companies stop being seen, stop communicating and stop reaching out because they are focusing on sales.  If there is anything that we have learned from the 2008 global economic crisis is that companies that were most visible and media active recovered the fastest.

Vrinda Gupta is the managing partner of Vazir Group

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