Post-COVID19, the way that we do business and think about business needs to change. Employees are going to lose jobs, some are going to get pay cuts, contracts might not get renewed, Consultancy services will be a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’, Buying power and intention would be less as people will dip into their savings and be weary of the future, Businesses of all scales and sizes will have to reevaluate their strategies while they cut costs in the short term. Everyone kept saying that “Change is inevitable”, but now, change has come knocking rather loudly, like a Policeman looking for a criminal harboured in your house, and this time you will HAVE to answer the door.
What have you been doing during the lockdown? Watching Netflix, Playing games, spending precious time with your family and pets, learning to cook, finally finishing that book, worrying about the future and your job, hoping that the world won’t end…. these are all things that most of us have been doing.
Right now, everybody is focussed on the virus and its immediate repercussions. Infections, Deaths, Lockdown, curfew, getting hold of the essential food items and supplies for the house etc. We sit and watch the news and marvel in a dreamy disbelief that this is even happening to us and the world. This is normal and expected human response given the scale and magnitude of the Coronavirus and its effects around us and around the world. But it has been more than a Month now and it is now time to accept things as they are and plan for the future.
As business owners and freelancers, we are responsible for our workers and putting food on the table for our families. So we cannot wait for the government or anyone else to come to our aid. Also, if you look around your house right now, your parents, kids, pets etc, although worried and concerned, they will still be going back to doing most of the same things that they are doing now, even after the covid19 threat is over and some form of normalcy is restored.
But you and I cannot afford to just sit around and wait for things to blow off and change. Because once things do start to change and things do start becoming some form of normal, we are the ones that will need to step out and step up to work and make money, pay salaries and put food on the table!! So, what do we do?
These are my thoughts. We need to look at the trends in business right now, with all the lockdown and curfew. What businesses have really suffered, what businesses are holding on, what have become really important, what will lose their importance once things get better and what new business opportunities are going to emerge?
In Sri Lanka, with the GOSL encouraging a self-sustaining economy and talk about restricting imports, what new opportunities will emerge for us? There have been so many things that we import, with restrictions there will be great opportunity for local manufactures to get it on the action. All those businesses that used to complain about how imports are ruining local businesses and were urging the GOSL to do something about it, have got their prayers answered by none other than Mother Nature herself. So what are you going to do about it?
Take a look around the Micro and Macro landscape of your industry and business. If you are big player in your space, chances are that you will have to cut costs by way of staff etc but you will survive. But the other smaller players might not. So then, what happens to the workers in those businesses? What happens to the customers that those companies served. Those customers will still need to get some work done, and now they might not have the small company to do it for them? What can you do in this instance? You can look at taking on those customers and then employing those workers to handle those customers. Maybe not at the same salaries but still, better than being unemployed right?
SMALL / MEDIUM BUSINESSES
If you are a small business, it is time to change the game and thinking. Look at collaborating with other small businesses in your industry in order to keep your workforces and customers serviced. Look at offering customers OpEx rather than CapEx business models, at least until things start picking up. We are not going to be able to make it on our own. It is not going to be US and the Government here! We will need all the help, support and networking with each other to get through this. It will result in more tightly knit Business support groups and maybe businesses thinking like industries rather than lone players in the market.
If you are an employee who thinks that you are going to lose your job, what should you be doing? This is an opportunity for you to FINALLY pursue your dreams and your passions. You are no longer bound by or stuck doing the same job that you were doing because you HAD TO! You can now start that Food business, Making furniture, Teaching, and any other thing that you always wanted to do but just didn’t have the time or guts to start. This is the time to make full use of your Talents, Skills and Abilities. I honestly believe that, Post COVID19 is going to be the ERA of the DOERS, DREAMERS and the PASSIONATE! Remember all those people who told you that “some people are lucky to be doing what they love and making money in the process” well, time to become one of those ‘SOME PEOPLE’. Also, by now, you must have realized that money is not everything, you might not be able to afford everything that you had before but you will be happy and committed and more than anything else, CONTENT! This is your chance.
FREELANCERS / CONSULTANTS
NETWORK! NETWORK! NETWORK! Talk to each other, create an end to end service supply chain in your area of operation / industry. Link with other freelancers who do other parts of your service chain so that you can feed off of each others contacts and expertise. I know that his is how most of us operated even before all this but now the dynamic will change because most companies will not be able to afford the rates and fees of the bigger companies anymore, and will look for Freelancers and Consultants. Also, they will look to outsource ‘previously in-house’ functions. So if we are organized and structured well enough to provide and end-to-end service to potential customers, we will be better off together as a community.
THE HUMAN CONNECTION
No matter who you are what type or size of business that you owned, you will have to go back to the basics of being human and humane. No matter how difficult it is going to get, we need to remember that we are still dealing with HUMANS with HUMAN problems. Thankfully, we have still not being conquered by an alien species or Zombies or Vampires and we still not do need to report to our Overlords. You need to get out there…and put yourself out there.
This is not the time for EGO, this is NOT the time for Pride or LIES, or SHAME. Because if you let those petty things get in the way at this point of time, it could mean that someone is going to starve, have no medicine or lose their home. This is the time to be Human. To strip down to your bare, authentic self and talk to people. Tell them what you are feeling, ask them how they are feeling. See how you can help each other. And believe me, no matter how unlikely it may seem, we all can help each other in some way or the other. You know what they say about wearing your heart on your sleeve, well this is the time to not wear sleeves at all.