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On The Cover - Time to Move Forward
One man, ‘Soichiro Honda’ was a game-changer who sustained all fiascos, natural disasters, and business hurdles. He survived and made ‘Honda’ successful because of his courage, perseverance, and determination. Natural disasters stuck his plans one after the other, but he believed on ‘failures are not simply possible’. Today, around two lakhs employees are under his banner and many businesses are benefiting to have the revenue from Honda.  Business challenges are common but refusing to get out of them is a failure.

Let’s move forward !

The recent pandemic has uprooted all sizes and types of businesses. If you start counting how many, it will be too many. Now the new challenge is how to turnaround and recover ‘business continuity’. The next is an open question.  “Are we ready with a ‘disaster and recovery plan’ in our hard disk?” Pinning the blame on disaster could be another reason for our lacunae as we had met several disasters earlier.  If you embark on the turnaround plan, the time to start preparing is ‘now’! 
Article Published: 'Invitation Issue' of SME Business Digest, a Digital Business Magazine - Feb-Mar2021

The Governments and Corporate Companies demonstrated their ‘disaster plans’ to reach the supplies and services on priority to people by considering hazard analysis, social distancing, responses, and formal approach. The logical proof was that they had their disaster strategies ready. The crisis accelerated them to take many decisions with a sudden twisting motion of changes in a matter of days. As a result, they found the real way of business happening for them.

Many small businesses are still groping in the dark in getting their original markets back. The marriage halls, cinema, big malls, mansions, lodgings, restaurants, or building-owners who let out space for others are all undergoing psychological pains over several months.

“It was a fail-fast approach. I had set the entire team with the office infrastructure. The no-inflow revenue and the out-flow overheads pushed me out in eight months. I lost everything and it was quick!” said a proprietor of a micro-company who started a service-oriented business in January 2020, just before COVID.

“Rent, salaries, payments to vendors, outstanding payments, electricity, telephone bills, interest on loans, and all these words sore terms now.” – a small business owner sounded out in his local accent.

“Goods are in transit and the cargo halted in some corner of the world. Whom to blame?”  - happen to hear a curt expression from one of the importers.

“Ordered huge auto-spares from Pune with 100% payment. Both the stock and money are locked.” -  a Chennai based automobile service company owner sighed sadly.

Thus, business losses are mutually huge with industries during this pandemic situation. The significant shift what they all expect is a ‘sustainable business without investment in the post-pandemic situation’.

Will the revival be quick from inactivity?

There is a lot more to do than just to restart the business with hopes. The important point is the ‘timelines’. Any disaster recovery plan has to consider two major things. One is ‘economic values’ (or cost-cutting) and the other one is ‘business capability’.

Economic values are ‘cutting out or reducing the expenses’. There are lots of overheads that you can downsize within your own business if you sit tight and work on it. Consider the fixed expenses, incentive or performance-based salaries, asset evaluation, and profit model.  You can work on lower rents, change in broadband/telecom plans, fixed salaries into variable pay, reducing travel expenses, change in delivery plans, reducing proportionate staff members, appointing agencies for some jobs, increase in work hours, reduction on holidays and so on.

Do not let your emotional feelings bring challenges. For example, an exorbitant office that was affordable before the pandemic situation must be ready for a change of place; similarly, employees who do not have assignments or work in the business should be taken in the attrition list without giving room for emotions. . In such cases, there is a leeway that your heart could talk more than your mind.

On business capability, you can find a reasonable benchmark to restructure the business in terms of behaviour, attitude, commitment, culture, and employees’ capabilities. Study the cases of e-commerce supplies and some of the technology companies on how they set the buying culture, positive attitude, delivery commitment, and resourcing capabilities quickly to regularize the motion during the pandemic situation.

On your new transition plans, include these things to adopt a change in your services. That commitment may bring new customers or make your existing customers use more of your services.

For example, reach your customers before they reach you to get something. Or deliver something at their place rather than expecting them down to your lane. You may easily notice that your customers are happy just because of your change in your attitude, commitment, culture and delivery capabilities.

For a good recovery plan, any smart business person would go in with this combo plan when implementing the mitigation strategies.
A sudden surge in the rates of products and services has disfigured the markets. During the lockdown, people would refrain from considering any new projects due to unexpected intensity. So the chances of getting new projects would be way ahead. Naturally, the businesses have to rely on old customers for some repeat orders.

Revenue cut down, resourcing attrition, and economic considerations of spending are not the only reasons for the customer to cut orders, but the external factors like meeting in person, negotiations, approach, timely delivery, social distancing, statutory completions (as Govt. officers were not working fully), and other practical actions are also the reasons for procrastination.

Freelancers, startups, and small companies will have increased overheads all of a sudden without monthly revenue and slowly, they will start pulling out of markets. The industrial market will be a virgin market to some businesses with new price tags and increased cost in services.

People have learnt to live with what they have in hand. It is ‘economic spending’ approach.

Not all businesses have such a cause to burst situation. Some have quickly adapted to the market and utilized their business capabilities by changing their attitude, reaching customers, reducing the prices, delivering in a new style, and meeting customers’ satisfaction in a new way.

Like e-commerce companies, certain software companies opened their products and services rapidly to add new customers.

For instance, the lockdown situation paved the way for services like Google Meet, TeamViewer, AnyDesk, Zoom, eLearning Modules, LMS, eTraining and other major remote applications. Albeit the fall of the entertainment industry, applications like Smule, PodCasts, WhatsApp, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Prime Videos, Netflix, Disney Hotstar,  and other mobile applications found their ways.

It is a great way to mix ‘economic values’ and ‘business capability’ to address the new markets. Micro, Small and Medium companies have to work more on ‘practical planning’ with their investment and funds position in mind.

In-business or out-of-business?
In the first place, you recognize and decide whether you can take the business back. If your thoughts are positive, work out a strategy with the deep cost-cutting model for the survival, else  consider the same business or any allied business that could recapture your market. You can change the plan, not the viewpoint. On the flip side, if you are nervous about the whole plan and not confident of the upbringing of the business, it is better to move out of it than draining your money. That means you come out of the business quickly after a serious study.  It may be demotivating as a suggestion, but you should look into reality in such situations.

For investment-related challenges, look for solutions.
Think before you plan to borrow money for business and find out whether you can settle it within a specified time. This is critical because the business does not run on your perceptions. Taken caution that borrowings are easy in a way, but meeting the commitment may end in challenges. If you are confident, you can go ahead with your budget plans ready.

Restructure your business system and activate leadership qualities
- Find a solution whether you may want to restructure the business plans to get faster revenue from one of your divisions.
- Take a different approach in sales/marketing or customer relations and find some way to meet targets.
- Stoop down to the levels of customers on the bargains, but do not let the orders go out of your hands. Perhaps, one of your deals may earn a low margin, but you can compensate it in another. Create more prospects to increase the base of business chances.
- Keeping the intent to develop the business, motivate your leadership qualities.
- Also, keep your people informed about your broadest analysis of the market and activate fresh strategies. Inculcate the confidence in your people that you are aiming the market differently and make them understand your competitive plans to capture the market. Virtually, ‘look for their support’. However, carry your plan-B ready in case your people are sluggish to carry on your thoughts and they delay your business success within a specified time.
 - Aim to run this new model to increase the ‘awareness’ of your products and services to customers. This means you must be inviting customers to notice your business and increase your proposals to customers. Let them be your existing customers or new customers. This could support your monthly overheads.

Involve yourself with people and customers directly.
Get involved to know the progress of each proposal that you have given out to customers. Understand the difficulties of reasonable conflicts and implement a plan to secure a competitive advantage. This will get advantages of keeping your people and customers close to your plans. Connect closely in major operations of the business to take subsequent actions. 

Cut down the maximum liabilities and reduce the overheads to dire necessity.
Certain overheads bound to happen and they are fixed on monthly dates. From standard practices of cutting overheads, you can look for a cut in production cost, moving to cheaper premises for rent, deep planning in travels and conveyances, modernizing marketing strategies, look for digital marketing, increase or decrease in work time, tag with the best use of technology, avoiding long meetings, team party, work-from-home concept to some of the employees, contracting some of the jobs, employ people exactly to the jobs, and focus on quality.
Leaving back…

The entire turnaround plan is dependent on the crisis levels of the business. Before starting to turnaround, identify the root cause of the problem. Courage, perseverance, and determination are the three strong positive things that can take you through the ‘turnaround processes’. As said earlier. “Business challenges are common but if you don’t work on them, it would lead to ‘business failure’. Let’s move forward.”
Let’s move forward.”

Good luck with your turnaround strategies.
The recent pandemic has uprooted all sizes and types of businesses. If you start counting how many, it will be too many. Now the new challenge is how to turnaround and recover ‘business continuity’.
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