Due to Covid-19 and the lack of concerns for the business community, it’s never been harder to run a successful enterprise than it is in 2021.
Not only do you have to compete with your rivals, but you also have to somehow navigate the treacherous waters of declining income and ever-expanding operational restrictions.
So what’s the solution to this problem? The trick is to look at some of the survival strategies companies have used in the past and put them into practice in your business.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in the late nineties, he knew that he had to make big changes to ensure the company survived. He scrapped entire departments, laid people off, and told them to work elsewhere. He got rid of half the company’s product portfolio. And he rebranded the firm so that it would appeal to consumers in the aftermath of the dotcom crisis.
All these efforts seem like a genius in hindsight, but at the time, it wasn’t clear how things would pan out. To many commentators, it looked like Apple was going to hit the wall.
There are countless other lessons like this from the business community. When times are tough, companies can hunker down, protect their core assets, and then emerge from crises like butterflies, stronger and more radiant than ever.
So what can you do to survive in a world like this? Let’s take a look.
When the coronavirus first hit, the global supply chain began creaking. Companies had to adjust their order plans, and many supplies were simply unavailable.
Today, it’s pretty much accepted that a lot of businesses are going to have trouble meeting their suppliers’ demands. That’s why so many enterprises are now telling their vendors that they can only make partial payments, given the current conditions.
The government is shutting down businesses by force of law. So it only seems fair that they pick up the tab. That’s why they’re currently offering companies affected by their policies grants and benefits, designed to help them survive over the next several months.
The money the state is spending right now will create economic harm in the future, but you can’t focus on that right now. The only thing a rational company owner can do is apply for all qualifying benefits, perks, cash payouts and tax breaks. Without this, your company will struggle to survive.
No business leader wants to lay people off. It’s always a difficult thing to do, especially in a situation like the one we have at present where unemployment is high. However, keeping unproductive people threatens the entire business, and that puts everyone’s job on the line, including yours.
Companies are adopting different approaches to this problem. Many love their employees and want to welcome them back with open arms. And for that reason, many are keeping ex-employees close to their chests, waiting for things to pick up again so that they can rehire. Others are focusing on part-time employees - usually, people who have a secondary income - to minimize the impact.
Try reducing your headcount by 10 per cent at a time and see what type of impact it has on your business and bottom line. If things are slow, letting people go probably won’t make a big difference to your revenue, but it could slash your costs tremendously.
Customers are struggling at the moment too, particularly in the B2B sector. So emotionally intelligent companies are reaching out to them to share their support plans.
If things are hard right now (or you’re not able to meet their needs because of operating restrictions), explain what’s going on in an email or a letter.
Many gyms, for instance, have had to close because of the various shutdowns imposed on the community. They’re now sending regular emails to their clients explaining how their payments are “on hold” and that they won’t take direct debits until they’re able to attend again.
The same is true of restaurants. Sitting down for a meal with friends isn’t an option. So they’re offering their customers click-and-collect or delivery services.
Manufacturers are having a dreadful time right now trying to keep people healthy. Thanks to the second wave of COVID-19 infections, many are seeing staff having to take time off work and self-isolate. And this is putting business continuity and lives at risk.
The best way around this is to increase the number of shifts that you operate. If you currently have one eight-hour shift, try changing this to two or three so that you can spread out both production and people. This way, you can attempt to control the severity of the spread of the disease and keep more of your people healthy.
If you run a local business, do what you can to let your customers know you’re still operating and there for them if they need you.
You can boost your visibility with banner printing, flyers and even ads on the local radio.
The banks are quiet at the moment. But if the current situation persists, we could see them go into self-protection mode. And that means that they could start withdrawing credit facilities from private enterprise.
To preempt this, you might want to draw down on your lines of credit.
Check how long you can take out money without incurring interest charges. Depending on the bank, this will usually vary from 60 to 90 days.
Depending on your industry, you might consider reevaluating your current product lineup. The pandemic has changed many businesses’ operating models. And it could necessitate a change of yours too.
What could you do differently to better meet the needs of your customers, using the skills you have in-house? It’s an important question worth considering on a strategic level.