WHEELS OF THE BUSINESS GO ROUND AND ROUND! LOCKDOWN DIARY: Self Reﬂection.
Lessons learned in retrospect through COVID-19
Me, Myself, COVID-19, and Business. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced global communities to pause in uncertainty and distress. Leaders from all areas of discipline have been pushed out of their comfort zone to reassess their modus operandi and adapt to these market times.
Having witnessed lots of tumultuous economic downturns, and yet, I was not prepared for a market play overnight. However, I realized the necessity of seeing beauty in chaos, because for the right reasons, I foresaw the open tunnel ahead. I saw a constructive opportunity! This pandemic has forced us to remove our blinkers and see clearly, probably for the ﬁrst time in a very long time. Many of my thoughts stem from having played the various gambles of an entrepreneur and my unquenchable quest to help small businesses. With hundreds of how-to guides pouring in from “business experts,” is there really a survival handbook for all this? With so many lessons doing the rounds, here are a few of mine.
LESSON 1: CASH IS KING CASH CASH CASH. Cash is everything for an entrepreneur. It is of great importance to maintain your business’ ﬁnancial health, and more so when you are self- funded. It gets difﬁcult at times when expenses are high and receivables are delayed from partners, thus creating a prolonged cycle of payment delays, which hurts small businesses the most. Keeping the cash ﬂow is imperative. I would love to see an expenditure scoring system put in place for all stakeholders, as this could really change the course of how we do business in the future.
LESSON 2: REALIGNING TEAMMATES
The COVID-19 crisis has brought out the human empathic side of us. We have subconsciously become more resilient, and more understanding, and yet even with that, there is a ﬁne line. I have always said that your employees are at the core of a business’s success and human resources have the toughest job. With the right people on board and the art of delegating, your business is set. This pandemic has enabled businesses to determine the keepers, the ones who share the same business’ core values, and those who don’t– and that is ok. It is always hard to let team members that you invested in go, but it's also a revelation of what your business might have really needed.
LESSON 3:!SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY Small businesses are signiﬁcant to the growth of any economy, yet they are fragile at this time, and need the greatest of support from governments and semi- government entities. The key to staying ﬁnancially aﬂoat is by lowering administrative costs, which could lessen the burden on small businesses.!What is needed is a backbone to rely upon, and there is no better one than having the support of our enablers, who basically helped nourish the sheer existence of our entrepreneurial spirit.
LESSON 4: TECHNOLOGY IS THE REALISTIC FUTURE Information Technology has kept us uniquely connected and informed, and now is the time to upgrade and integrate technology processes in our business functions. Even as freelance consultant and business blogger, I am not only deploying technology for communications, but also looking into more effective technological channels and platforms to innovate my products and services, and serve the core essence of what I stand for. Believe it or not but tech is the future, and an investment that all small businesses should consider and incorporate.
LESSON 5: INTEGRITY GOES A LONG WAY. REMAIN ETHICAL Ethics are the backbone of all human interaction, and when faced with risk, they tend to surface, and that in turn builds your brand equity. I found this to be an incredible moment of truth that has helped me ﬁlter my stakeholders, from personnel, clients, and business partnerships. It has been my greatest learning, which will certainly serve as a basis for future business undertakings, and which will enable me to establish the boundaries I need for my business to thrive.
LESSON 6: EMBRACE AGILITY The Tigress in me! This ethos bears a similarity with my leadership style. I have always thought of my previous businesses as agile, in the sense of its ability to move fast and be responsive, whilst maintaining a strong foundation. With market ﬂuctuations over the years, there was no choice but to continuously innovate. Seven years later, my business concept still remained. Businesses must never remain stagnant, and they must continuously evolve and adapt to new market trends. Nothing is ever set in stone-including existence. It's important to learn from it and move on.
LESSON 7:!THERE’S STRENGTH IN PARTNERSHIPS The statement "Rome was not built in a day" has made more sense now than ever. What competitors fail to
understand is that it takes years to build a brand, and a lot of trial and error. Brands are never built overnight, and what may work for one business may not necessarily work for another. Clients buy a product or service because of their allegiance to that brand, the consistency in its offering, quality, and service. As such, duplicating another business’ offering will not ensure success. There is power in partnerships. I’ve witnessed an increase in competition, even from the closest of our partners, but I have also seen impactful collaborations come our way in the form of co-creating with like-minded businesses and government entities for the greater good.
LESSON 8: YOU ARE A BORN NUTURER BUT DON’T FORGET “YOU” As you adapt to the new normal, you are truly not alone in the process. No matter how hard we try to micromanage, there are things that remain outside of our control. So, don't forget yourself. Reach out to your trusted networks and engage them. I have always said that entrepreneurship can be a lonely experience, let alone leading during a time of crisis. We all need each other in many ways, and what an amazing journey it is to share this experience with others. The beauty of this metamorphosis is that you will be equipped for anything, literally anything, after this.