As an entrepreneur, times are tough. The pandemic ploughs through, disrupting business operations, eating away capital runway, forcing administrational changes and whatnot.
Could you have prepared for it? Of course, in hindsight, nobody could have predicted a virus to turn 2020 into a memorable year for the wrong reasons. But why procrastinate in setting up a plan B when we know unforeseen circumstances will become foreseen?
The human brain conundrum
Every entrepreneur is human after all. We all go through something called cognitive biases. These are mental blind spots inside our brain. In neuroscience, it is the combination of how our brain is specifically structured, combined with an evolutionary background.
(Read it again, it’s confusing).
In simple words, despite knowing that plans can fail, we still make them. We believe that the future will unravel just like how we plan it. If someone predicts that sales revenue will reach 4x the number by the end of Q2 in 2021, we believe it.
If that same sales manager would have said, maybe we should keep our costs low from the start to make up for a calamity, we won’t even entertain such an opinion. Our mental blind spot does not allow us to prepare for contingencies.
The short term is prioritized upon the long term. Having a cognitive bias is bad when evaluating potentially impactful situations such as a pandemic.
The hopeful pandemic scenario
Let us assume that the pandemic is here to stay. The vaccine is nowhere in sight and the spread takes India to the no.1 spot. As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to prepare your business for this never-ending slump.
Human-to-human interactions won’t see the light of day until mid-2021. So, what do you do? Can you figure out a way to permanently make your team members work from home?
Recently, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, asked his entire business personnel to work from anywhere they pleased. This is because their business model did not rely on traditional ways of working. They could go virtual to serve their customers.
Can your current office space be given out for rent? A co-working space perhaps. Will supply-chain get hampered by it? Hasn’t the lack of travelling saved your company some money?
So adapt likewise. Find a way to prepare for unknowns. Reserve some capital for disruptions even worse.
Likening WHO guidelines to business
Adopt the right mindset to navigate past the storms of COVID-19. Set up business check-ups regularly to check for any spikes in debt. Use up-to-date mechanisms to detect any leakage in unwanted marketing spend.
Understand your audience’s buyer temperature. Are they feeling too hot to spend during the festival season or will their reaction be cold?
Craft engaging and uplifting content around your service offerings. Look for signals with regards to audience desires and purchase intentions. Once you understand that, tweak your product or service’s pricing. Cash outflow will always weigh more than your cash inflow.
Maintain distancing between coming up with discounts or offers. Monitor sales numbers constantly. Understand trends that could re-occur.
Supply chain challenges are expected to remain constant. That is why mentioning that here is imperative. To deal with this, get the true picture of your vendors. Set realistic expectations that take into account lock-downs and blockades.
Try to avoid back order nightmares, which will result in a frustrated customer never returning back. If your e-commerce business is built on great customer experience, find ways to send periodic reminders about orders delays.
Try not to cannibalize the market just because your competitor is faring poorly. In fact, try to play fair. Play the solidarity tone to perfection. After all, we are all in this together. Your brand, business, and tactics must all convey this.
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