The challenges and havoc caused by Covid-19 is unprecedented. Covid-19’s effects will be felt by the economy and individuals for many years to come. As a business owner, you are responsible for yourself and your family – you are also responsible for the care of your employees, their families and all those that are reliant on your business keeping its doors open. Those affected by your business are going to look to you for answers. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely road (trust me I know) however can be extremely rewarding. In this article I am going to share some of my experiences around Covid-19 and tips to ensure business survival.
Covid-19 – A time for introspection
Firstly, let us have a look at what Covid-19 has taught us. Granted, these lessons were thrust upon us. With the lockdown and reduced activity, many of us had time to reflect on both the personal and business aspects of our lives. I have listed some of my thoughts below which may resonate with you. Note during these times that many thoughts were in the form of questions – the answers for which I did not always have:
- Make time for yourself and your family
- Every day is a gift – use it wisely
- Appreciate what you have, which can be difficult at time given the upfront challenges
- Be clear on what is truly important to you (your health, family, wealth, etc.)
- Do not sweat the small stuff – this can be difficult to do. Remember to not seek perfection when “good enough” will suffice
- Be clear on what is within your control and influence – use this to prioritize your efforts
- Change is inevitable – understand the changing environment and adapt
- Have a support structure on a personal and professional level
- Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown is not an enforced holiday – do what you can to prepare for the future
- It is important to have clear goals and to atomize them into bite-sized chunks
- Set actions for yourself on a daily basis. Keep them small and doable
- Tick of the actions as you go along to enforce the sense of achievement
- Celebrate the small victories without losing sight of the end goals
Some points to ponder
Whilst there is no silver bullet to solve all of our problems, there are certainly some principles and approaches that can help. Below are some solutions which I have either personally implemented or have coached other entrepreneurs on successfully. To keep the article succinct, I have not included all points, however you are welcome to contact me for more details through the following link: https://nikshen.com/contact-us/.
- Understand the ever-shifting environment and adapt your strategy. As the economy opens and our lives return to some level of normal (the ‘new’ normal), entrepreneurs have to ensure that they are ready. The only way to achieve this state of readiness is to understand the changing environment, understand your customer needs and adapt your strategy to meet them.
- Is your product or service still relevant to the customer in its current form? Should you be changing your offerings to meet your customers’ needs?
- Be empathetic to what your employees are experiencing. Work with them to redefine what the business will look like in the future, uplift their skills to meet these needs and make them an integral part of the solution. Understand that your success is theirs and vice versa.
- Develop a clear strategy with clear goals. I have found that the absence of direction tend to make people do nothing. I am sure that one does not embark on a road trip with one’s family without first having some plan on the destination, refuelling stops and snacks for the road.
- Have a clear understanding of your value chain and all costs associated with it. When investigating this, you will get to understand the “fat” (wasteful activities and expenditures) and then consider ways to reduce that fat. Note one needs to develop a keen eye as one may have become accustomed to the fat over a period of time. Factory blindness is normal.
- Do you have a support structure to help you on this journey? Developing a relationship with an experienced and knowledgeable business advisor is highly recommended. An advisor can help you navigate your journey and will result in you building your business, supply chain and value chain skills.
- No two organisations have the same problem. Now I am going to contradict myself by saying that the same problems will have different solutions. Allow me to elaborate. Every problem – even if they appear to see the same on face value – reside in a different environment, hence the resolution cannot be the same. If any professional suggests that they can fix your problems with the “cookie cutter” or “one size fits all” approach, then run. The correct professional help will result in a tailored customized solution.
- Set out an action plan on a daily basis and tick them off as you go. Having a sense of accomplishment has a huge psychological benefits and will motivate you. Take this approach with your employees. Set operational targets (KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators) for your teams and review them often. KPI’s give your team direction and purpose.
With the correct plan and guidance the above can be implemented relatively quickly and will contribute towards business survival.
I have learnt many valuable lessons during this period – the most important lesson being “what does not kill you makes you stronger”. As entrepreneurs we certainly need to show high levels of resilience. I hope that this article has shown that you are not alone in the experiences and feelings of the last few months, and that if you approach your business endeavors differently there will be a high probability of success and survival.
Dr Kenneth Moodley is an experienced supply chain and business professional with over 25 years’ experience. He has a demonstrated history of working with both big corporates (example: Unilever & The South African Breweries) and SMME’s (Productivity SA) in various industry sectors as a senior Supply Chain Specialist, Leader and Business Coach. In addition to his supply chain experience, he is a skilled business turnaround strategist and is a registered senior business rescue practitioner.