This is a business guide, a survival checklist, for future disruptions or uncertainties
This guide is addressing business challenges while aiming for valuable changes for the future and uncertainties.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed business strategies and perception permanently.
Covid-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, reportedly found in Wuhan, China near the end of 2019. But was only widely known and feared globally early 2020.
The pandemic and its impact on the world will not be over anytime soon. We are still seeing rapid case growth in major emerging markets (source: McKinsey).
Singapore’s first case of Covid-19 was detected on January 23.
Since Singapore’s SARS outbreak in 2003, we had our fair share of learning and braving through the epidemic. We were slightly more prepared than others.
On the onset, we had comprehensive movement tracking in place.
However, all of us cannot run away from the hard reality that this version of coronavirus is highly contagious. Hence, the upgraded status of a pandemic by the WHO.
Circuit breaker, our version of social distancing, became a necessity.
Consequently, offices and non-essential services face temporary closure and employees will have to work from home.
A new norm was created. But it was only the beginning.
Companies Shutters & Bankruptcies Rising
Five months into the outbreak, we are seeing businesses laying off people, cutting pays, while others are taking extreme measures to survive.
Let’s admit it.
We’re all not ready to navigate a pandemic scale disaster.
The worst of it all, particularly for businesses with only physical stores, are to cease operations permanently.
- 120 people working for Uber will lose their jobs as Uber decides to move the APAC headquarters out of Singapore. Reportedly, they will cut 3000 jobs and shut 45 offices around the world. (source: dealstreetasia.com)
- The Robinsons Department Store, an iconic century-old brand, at Jem Mall, will shutter by the end of August. (source: insideretail.asia)
- Esprit, a Hong Kong-listed company, will close 56 stores in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, except China, by June 2020.
Generally, closure of companies and personal bankruptcy applications in Singapore are reportedly increasing. (source: Bloomberg.com)
If the dire situation persists the economy may break. Therefore, governments around the world are reopening their economies. However, based on numerous reports, cases of new Covid-19 continue to ascend daily.
So how can businesses survive on a dragged out slow market? How will businesses sustain the crash of economies? How to survive or thrive during this tough time?
It is time to build a resilient business strategy and team for the long-term. So take the opportunity to be open to reinvention and opportunities for value changes.
This article is a guide for small-to-medium businesses and startups on how to navigate some of the challenges your company is facing during these trying times.
Business Continuity Planning
A business continuity plan (BCP) is the art of designing a system against any potential threat to your company. Particularly, by way of prevention and recovery.
Your BCP should include processes and procedures factoring in assets, workforce, finance, stakeholders, and more.
A typical BCP lifecycle may look like this.
The following is a checklist of steps, measures, and pointers to create a sustainable BCP for your business.
Business Survival Kit Guide & Checklist
Interesting Truths to Ponder
Before we dive in. Here are some facts for you to reflect on. Of course, these will change how you strategise your business moving forward.
- We will never return to the pre-pandemic era of business operations.
- Being connected and available online is becoming a necessity.
- Societal values, cultural norms, and consumer behaviours will forever change.
- Planning for uncertainty will be a standard business strategy practice.
- A resilient workforce will be obligatory, hence leading to the need for HR and recruitment for reinvention.
Business Strategic Phases
When working on your business strategy for disaster and uncertainty, you have to break them into stages.
These stages reflect the criticality of the situation. Subsequently, to take actions in phases to overcome the problems.
- The ‘now’ reflects immediate actions.
- Then, ‘next’ reflects the next steps after mitigation of the serious first wave.
- Subsequently, the long-term moves for the future that should take place when things are normal.
Without limitation to the following questions, ask yourself these at each stage during the planning and strategizing.
1. The Now Strategy
At this very instant
- What will you do?
- What needs to change?
- How will you survive the next few months?
- What should and should not be included?
- Who and what will be needed?
2. Next in the Strategy Playbook
In the immediate future
- What is your next move?
- Who will be doing what?
- How will the new strategy be executed?
- How will you know the success of your plans?
3. The Strategic Guide for the Future
- What strategy or plan must be in policy?
- What standard procedures to activate and when?
- How to handle the strategic plan?
- Who to execute the plan?
- Who and how will the plan be sustained?
The Ultimate Business Guide Checklist to Navigate Covid-19 Pandemic
- Get together a Strategic Crisis Response Team (naming is optional, you can rename it to Biz Avengers: Prepare for Covid-19 or simple Covid-19 Preparedness Team)
- Include key executives representing different critical functions and areas. For example, Human Resource, Finance, Operations & business stakeholders, Supply Chain/Procurement, and Marketing and Communications.
- Establish communication channels, tools, and a go-to person for all formal communications
- Educate your employees on terminology, safety tips, social distancing measures, hand-washing, protection, and more
- Sanitisation of workplace & appointment of trained workforce for executing safety measures in the office (if allowed)
- Check out help and support options, and business relief packages from the government and private agencies
Business Guide For Human Resource
Stakeholders like directors and executives must closely monitor the Government’s announcement. So, they can adjust the proper strategy and approach.
The subsequent strategies and approaches are for “Work From Home Policy”—for during the first wave of crisis.
For different disruptions or uncertainties, we need different strategies that align with the Government’s policy as well.
Work on work from home policy while considering the following.
- Can all employees work from home with proper equipment?
- What ways can employees communicate with each other?
- How are you paying your employees who work from home or take leaves of absence?
- How do you handle employees that are tested positive? Also, how can they alert the company?
- What are the restrictions and procedures from the company to employees to ensure everyone is safe?
- What flexibilities will you give to employees? For instance, pay, leave, compensations and procedures and their families for school closure, illness at home, etc.
For Marketing & Communications
Develop a communication plan and vehicles in dealing with
- Employees internal and external communications
- Consistent messages to the entire organisations. As well as, according to the protocol that aligns with the government and WHO guidelines
- An appropriate level of communications with customers or clients
- Dealing with suppliers and supply chain
- Updates to the Board of Directors
- Keeping business partners abreast of situations
For Facilities, Environment, Health & Safety
For essential services or when retractions of work-from-home happen, the following applies.
Ensure the office is safe to work for the employees in areas like
- Assess risk levels for employees to work at the office
- Prepare, plan and increase cleaning and sanitisation of the entire facility
- Assess, plan and facilitate the buildings. In other words, aid safe distancing among coworkers at the office, cafeteria, toilet, and more.
- Determine process and procedure in dealing with suppliers
Identify areas of impact and compartmentalise them. Particularly, Business Strategy, Workforce, Customers, Operations, Finance, and Technology
- Ensure the stability of your business to continue
- Evaluate and manage costs and profits
- Identify areas for growth to brave through the slow market
- Define new staff management plans
- Reinvent new ways to manage employees with costs considered
- Develop a sustainable long-term communication strategy
- Review HR policies on sickness due to the pandemic
- Develop a way to evaluate the impact of staff getting sick on your business
- Evaluate ways to provide moral support during tough times
- Work on retention and workforce development strategies
Customers Business Guide
- Define communication strategies with customers local and abroad
- Evaluate the impact of different business areas on customers
- Assess the impact of the situation. Subsequently, how they will behave towards your business.
- Relook into loyalty programmes for key customers
- Evaluate ways to better support key customers. For instance, credit limit exemption, suspension of interest, and more.
- Identify areas of challenges for supply chain and logistics during any critical time
- Analyse the current inventory level and sufficiency to fulfil customer orders
- Assess the impact of suppliers and vendors on your supply chain
- Come up with a prioritising strategy to focus on key customers
- Evaluate the capacity constraints during any major downtime
- Implement early indicator when the supply chain broke
- Factor in the disruption and uncertainty into the financial forecast. Namely, cash flow, P&L, and balance sheet.
- Assess existing sales orders and the capacity to fulfil them, and, also, to get timely payment
- Evaluate your liquidity needs and ensure there is access to adequate funding support
- Have a firm grip and a clear view of your working capital challenges. So that you can find ways to mitigate the rising working capital.
- Evaluate the criticality of your business financial needs for funding support
- Evaluate all required technological adoption to ensure continued growth
- Identify areas of your technology to upgrade, especially to support uncertainty and disruption
Finally on Your Strategic Business Guide
The stress of keeping your business afloat in this trying time, never mind thriving and growing, is gravely unnerving. Besides, on top of worrying about keeping your family and employees safe, you need to work on various angles of the problem.
However, a long-term plan is a necessity for building a resilient company.
Therefore, regardless of virus pandemic, zombie apocalypse or any future disruptions, you’ll want your business to continue serving your clients and sustaining your employees.
Resilient workforce is the key to achieve that.
We hope this business guide can help you in preparing for what’s to come.