Coronavirus hit the world by surprise. But the true terror started with the lockdown. A huge blow for businesses and all economic activity, eventually affecting even the poor working class. Even large caps started making losses for the first time in many years. MSMEs were heavily hit.
As a women entrepreneur running a software company, I was really in a confused and panic state during the first week of lockdown. So many changes were happening to our normal lives, all business activity came to a complete halt, combined with our personal frustration of being locked inside.
The first week was hard. But after the initial days, I started figuring out ways to finish the work we had already committed. After the first 2-3 days of confusion, I implemented work from home for all our staff. We had ongoing projects, mostly from Europe. I don’t know if its the same for everyone, but my clients were reliable enough and the projects were not affected. We worked on the ongoing projects initially.
Our clients were mostly from abroad but we take local projects as well. That was heavily affected during the first month. I had to plan accordingly. I started keeping up public relations with many people, discussing various options. Parallelly we focused on upskilling our staff and made some common products which could sell now. Digital marketing is one area where I found great potential. The same is the case for eCommerce. I feel it a temporary boom because many of the newborn companies will die out and the few survivors will grow big. All businessmen were worried about restarting their business or how to keep the present business going. Solutions to these problems were being accepted positively. After two weeks, slowly new projects started coming from both the local market and abroad. Most of them were for automating existing manual systems or to start something new. Every economic downturn brings a lot of new avenues – I learned the fact in the past few months. The financial pinch that was being felt forced companies and entrepreneurs to think differently a bring out the best in them.
During the first week of Coronavirus lockdown I thought there is going to be a very difficult time ahead and it will be tough doing business. But things turned out different. The IT industry boomed. People were unable to go out so everything had to be done from home. The only solution is technology. I feel the IT industry has just started with another boom which will go on to another technology revolution in the world.
Corona is said to be present with us for a long time. This is a blow to the kind of life we all use to live. The human race will have to adapt to new ways of living, the same is the case for businesses. Many of the successful businesses before, might not have any market in the future. New areas will emerge. We all need to rethink our business and thoroughly analyze if we are on the right track. Adapt business models and products to suit the future demand, that is the only way to create. If you feel your product might not have a demand in the future, adapt it or go for a new one. Sticking on to products that might not have a market in the future, is dangerous. There is a lot of scope for new ideas to solve the new set of problems that the world is facing today. A whole new world will emerge out of this crisis, which will bring along a whole new range of opportunities. We have to positively look at the vacuums and find ideas to fill them.
A great change is a shift to work from home culture. Even large caps like TCS are planning for complete WFH for majority employees. It helps a lot in saving huge operational costs. The only problem I find with WFH is to have very efficient work monitoring systems. Initially, everyone works well because the whole thing is new. But slowly, I have seen that strict and proper monitoring of work progress is a must for WFH to be productive. Any flaw in the monitoring system can lead to a huge drop in productivity. Also, the team spirit, a feeling of unity and work environment, etc is an aspect of keeping an office life and its people productive. It is very important to keep your team motivated and necessary to have some fun in between to keep the team together. Periodic meetings and monitoring can make WFH a good option. I have personally not made up my mind to move into a complete WFH as I feel an online-offline combination would work better.
With global air travel restrictions sales meetings worldwide have come to a standstill. The positive thing about that is sales pitches have become completely online, saving the cost, time, and effort of making long travels. That is also a huge opportunity. What was not possible before without physical meetings, is now happening over video calls. The world seems like a smaller place to me these days.