COVID-19, or Coronavirus, is a global pandemic that has gripped the world. Personal and professional lives, mental and emotional stability; have all been affected and disrupted. It’s testing times like these that make the world come together as one, fight back and do everything in one’s power to continue as normally as possible.
The global economy has and will take a great hit. Businesses cannot run at a scale as they were before this — be it a large, medium, small, physical, or an online business.
While preparing ourselves for the after-effects is important, the need of the hour is to think of ways to continue during this pandemic.
The most important aspect to look into right now is self-care.
Taking care of your own health, proper sanitization, being aware of possible symptoms linked to Coronavirus, and ensuring that you neither spread nor contract the virus has to be the first thing each one of us enures.
If you’re a business owner, taking care of your employees is a close second priority. Just like yours, the health and safety of your employees is the key to keeping your business running. Regulating mandatory work from home, minimizing the number of staff that comes to work, medical and financial assistance — are some of the key factors that need to be thought-out and implemented.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY: PLAN, STRATEGIZE AND EXECUTE
While you may not be able to run your business at a regular scale, you can certainly plan, and execute, strategies that allow you to continue doing business.
First, plan your way ahead. Then, strategize and analyze to understand the steps you’ll need to take to execute your plan. Finally, execute. Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps:
STEP 1: PLAN
Just like any other business goal you set, business continuity must start with a proper plan in place. At this step, you need to understand what you need to achieve, and how you plan to achieve it.
If you’re an online business, what are the steps you need to take to continue providing your products and services?
If you’re an e-commerce store, how do you plan to deliver your products?
If you’re a physical business, how can you ensure safety and sanitization at your workplace? And, could you consider an online platform to continue the business, instead?
Analyze the needs of your business, your employees, your customers, and clients. Think of all the gaps and questions that may arise, and plan to offer solutions for the same.
Plan, plan, and plan some more before you move on to the next phase — Strategize.
STEP 2: STRATEGIZE
Once you’ve planned and chalked out all the questions you need to answer, it’s time to build a strategy that supports your business continuity plans.
By now, you should have a fair idea of the roadblocks, gaps, problems, and issues that may come in the way of you doing business. One-by-one, think of tools, people, or platforms that address these issues. Here are some things you need to start with:
- Communicate with employees
Set up a meeting (preferably online) to communicate the plan to your employees. Take suggestions, and offer solutions to tackle this as a team. Be a keen listener and understand the support your employees need to be able to carry on working efficiently. Be sensitive to their needs. If your business requires a certain number of employees to come into work, create a schedule considering everyone’s personal availability. Ensure the working space is sanitized, and has all the necessary measures in place to keep the working area safe for your employees. If you can run your business remotely, consider tools, gadgets or other essential support your team may need to continue working.
- Multi-channel communication with customers
Once, as a team, you have strategized the best working plan, it’s time to touch base with your customers. It’s important that you reach out to them, letting them know that their best interests are your top priority. Using multi-channel communication, like email marketing, social media platforms, updated business listings, and others will allow you to reach out to all your customers. If there are any changes in your business plans or functioning, that directly affects your customers, now is the time to communicate to maintain credibility. Send marketing emails detailing the measures taken by your business and what it means for your customers, create social content to keep them regularly updated with your business and update your business work timings and contact information across business listings to ensure that your customers know how and when they can reach you.
- Tweak delivery and pick-up options
The global pandemic requires everyone to minimize human contact and maximize sanitization. If you’re a business that delivers physical goods to customers, you may need to think of the safest options to do so. You can collaborate with 3rd party delivery services, like Dunzo and WeFast in India, to continue the business. Additionally, there are many businesses, especially medical supplies and eateries, that have started self pick-up services. You can allow customers to call and place an order ahead of time, so they can just pick-up a clean parcel with limited or no human interaction from your physical store.
- Set-up a basic online store
If you are a physical store, this may be a good time to consider setting up a basic online store. Buy a domain name, and a hosting package and set up a basic website for your store. You can slowly scale the products and services you offer online. As mentioned earlier, you can always tie up with 3rd party delivery services to fulfil online orders, and continue building revenue. Communicate to your customers about your online store through email and social platforms, letting them know that you are willing to go the length to continue serving them.
STEP 3: EXECUT
You’ve made a great plan, you’ve set up all the strategies you need to implement your plans — it’s execution time.
Put your strategies to execution and make changes, as and when required. You might discover new challenges along the way, but as long as you have a solid plan, you’ll be able to make the necessary changes to the strategies and carry on.
Move forward, keeping your team in the loop and with an open communication channel with your customers, and the execution will follow.
TAKE CHARGE; STRIDE OVER
COVID-19 has created an atmosphere of tension and despair across the globe. While the most important thing to do is practice self-care, one must also advocate best practices to keep employees safe, and businesses running.
This is the time to make the best use of technology, communication, and ethical work habits to stride over these difficult times. Every business needs to plan, strategize and execute measures that will ensure business continuity and minimize the effects of this global pandemic, on the global economy, as well as the existing needs of our customers.