1) Hit the reset button: The way the world is, has changed forever. So has the way businesses are going to run. Legacy and experience while of benefit otherwise, are likely to be a handicap going ahead. Fresh challenges need fresh thinking and mindset. However, for fresh ideas to take root and be effective it’s important for old to be discarded. Hence, we need to wipe the concepts we have been using and start with a clean slate.
2) Go digital: Resources, already in short supply, are going to be under stress in future. Be they human or financial. More efficient use of them is only possible by use of data. Gathering, its integrity and its analysis. This, so that action can be taken in real time. It is important to go digital internally as well as externally. Internal for efficiencies, cost reduction, value loss control and inventory reduction. External for knowing your customer satisfaction, retention, attrition rate, changing buying patterns, so that you can react in time and extract best value.
3) Value your team: For too far long we have treated workers and staff as commodities. While the intent has improved, still it is lip service about treating them as humans in majority of MSMEs. Lockdown made Indian industry realise that it is they that actually make us the rich people we are. Invest in their healthcare, human environment. You will do it for supplying to the H&Ms and Zaras of the world. Why not do it for your workers because they are an important part of your resource. The investment returns are in multiples. Let empathy not be a silent word anymore.
4) Become wider!: Anything wider will lessen the wobbling effect of any earth shaking event. So this is one important lesson from this pandemic. Widen your customer base. Widen your vendor base. Widen your financial sources. Widen your product / service offering where possible.
5) Be asset light: Where possible reduce capital cost of conducting business or expansions. Think, do you really need the bigger office space with higher air conditioning cost or some of your persons can Work From Home. Look at outsourcing with investment in vendor management for procurement.
6) Think cash flow before profits: Last but not least, look at financial management. Get a professional, it can be outsourced. Many virtual CFO services are available. It’s usually the lack of cash flow management that kills a business. Rarely the yearly profit and loss. MSMEs give this very important part of the business less than required resource allocation. Yet, business is finally about money. Manage it well and it will reward you. Ignore it, and it can crush you.