What will the COVID-19 aftermath look like for startups and corporates?

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, television series host and writer of 2001: A Space Odyssey said “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible”. There is no better time to implement this for a company than during the most difficult times of this century so far. It is not going to be the same as before January 30th, 2020, the day India registered its first Covid-19 case. It has taken a further drastic change from March 22nd for the foreseeable future where lockdowns and work from home have become a commonality in the lives of many corporate employees. Yet, the show must go on, we cannot have this pandemic situation bring everything to a standstill for months together as the world recovers from the deadly outbreak. Corporates would have considered work from home as a luxury before the lockdown, but now it is a necessity to keep the ball rolling. They need to respond innovatively to overcome this crisis and emerge out stronger post normalization. Now every organization’s imperative is to think out of the box and take the road less taken to come up with disruptive solutions to keep their workforce engaged through these challenging times. 

What are the fundamental threats that corporate organizations & startups face?

  1. Business Continuity
  2. Motivating employees 
  3. Areas where we can cut the cost to keep the payroll running without any layoffs

These challenges can be overcome by making a promise to be a bit braver and smarter till these tough times elapse. It is time to understand a few of the many ways one can use to make their business a success.

Resolve and Resilience- Tough times don’t last, tough businesses do

Business continuity is an existential threat to a company and a drastic dip in sales is apparent and unavoidable for companies unless they are completely digital. So, corporates must come up with new ideas internally to retain their sales and customer base and at the same time resolve to stand stronger as a unit and focus on the immediate threats ahead, bearing in mind their long-term vision. Often companies respond to an existential threat by cutting costs; fundamentally employee and marketing costs. In these months of economic downturn, companies must resolve to support and motivate their employees. It is said that ‘A business is as good as its employees’, hence companies need to come up with unique methods to retain the talent by possibly tending towards a percentage of pay cuts instead of going for layoffs, yet ensure their sustainability for the near future until it hits normalcy again. It is a good proposition to ask employees to come up with unique ideas to cut costs in every sector to help the organization become leaner and more resilient. This will definitely enable employees to feel more inclusive in the decision-making process of the organization. Challenges or ideathons can be organized for employees to come up with innovative suggestions and tools to cut expenses and increase revenue from new segments of the operating market.

Reimagining and Reforming the Company

There is no better time to focus on learning than such times when there is a significant slowdown in the pace of businesses. The learning curve can be adopted by starting off with peer to peer brief sessions on a daily basis, having one of the team members present on any particular skill they utilize in their line of business and its contribution to the organization as a whole. It would also be a brilliant opportunity to identify and recognize the talent of each employee within a team. Organizations can internally organize knowledge sharing sessions for their employees on how to build better and more efficient products, service and process improvements, to broaden their customer base and elevate the standards of the business. The best solutions or suggestions can be rewarded productively with sponsored access to premium e-learning courses and softwares. 

Co-creation of products with customers and employees is a powerful mechanism to employ for reimagining a company’s existing processes. This time can be used effectively to send out surveys to existing and prospective customers, offer demos of the niche products combined with free trials for a 30 day period and take feedback from them to make relevant improvisations. Additionally, one can also indulge in creating smaller teams to come up with innovative ideas for new products, improvisations on exciting product lines, solutions to long term problems that the company aims to solve etc. 

Make Meaningful Partnerships

Challenging times can be easily dealt with by allies and experts. Businesses should focus on partnering with fellow organizations and create survival & growth plans collectively. Experts must be consulted to support you in creating strategies and roadmaps to mitigate risks by assessing current ecosystems. T-Hub has been consulting various organizations on various innovation-centric requirements and supporting them to realize their innovation goals. Above listed directives have been used by T-Hub on many organizations and resulted in positive impact.      

Atlast, Focus on long-term vision and goals

When special forces are trained in the military, new recruits are made to undergo double the challenges than actual situations. This harsh training will enable a commando to make the right decisions even in turbulent situations ensuring the success of the mission. Current times can be considered as the same for all businesses. 

This is the time corporate organizations and startups have to innovate to survive this downturn and ensure carrying on with projects that will keep the ball rolling until the economy starts its revival. It is absolutely fine to be deviating a little from the designated path chosen earlier by a company and re-strategizing for its survival, to ensure there is a cash runway for the next 12-18 months. Businesses must live to fight another day, so a focus on the long term vision of the company should not be lost, instead, as a short-term goal, they need to concentrate on sailing the ship through the choppy waters.

– Rama Iyer, Chief Innovation Officer, T-Hub

NOTE: This article was originally published in YourStory on June 21, 2020 with the title, “What will the COVID-19 aftermath look like for startups and corporates?”

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