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Harish Pednekar Explains Important Business Lessons He Has Learned During COVID

Every problem is a gift—without problems we would not grow.

Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur

Necessity is the mother of invention. Never has that old phrase meant more than now, as the world battles to deal with the coronavirus. But it’s been inspiring to see some businesses taking up the challenge. And it will be fascinating to see how that response alters through the different phases of the crisis, and into recovery. With unprecedented changes sweeping nearly every institution across the globe, COVID-19 has taken mere weeks to single-handedly redefine life as we know it. Inexorably transformed is the workforce as it shifts to accommodate the new normal – new modes of communication, new work patterns, and new team dynamics.

In a matter of days, shutdowns and physical social distancing measures due to the coronavirus pandemic led to a dramatic shift in consumer values and behavior. It heavily impacted businesses and interrupted our way of life.

Close to two months later, the landscape hasn’t changed much. Employees still worry about the security of their jobs while employers struggle to figure out how to appropriately navigate these unprecedented times.

Harish says the coronavirus-induced lockdown has brought the entire country to a halt. Many companies are facing challenges to uphold the consumers’ interest in their platform but are finding different ways to connect with them. Technology has acted as a boon for many companies which are operating from home. Not only the consumer front, but the lockdown has also changed the future roadmaps of the biggest startups. To say that 2020 has been disappointing would be an understatement. The coronavirus crisis has become more than just a health crisis. Economies, markets and industries around the world are suffering because of this pandemic. 

Some changes are here to stay.

 Businesses that have survived this long inevitably made changes to their model. It’s logical to assume that some of the temporary adjustments leaders made to survive will be here for the long term. Some changes may have been a natural extension. For example, most fast-casual restaurants were already seeing an increase in off-premises consumption, so it isn’t surprising that carryout and delivery increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely stay higher for the rest of the year and perhaps beyond. Other changes may have been unexpected, but don’t rush to return to the old normal just because you used to do it that way.

Work with experts. 

Business continuity planning and implementation are really jobs for a specialist, so work with one. In addition, having a work-area recovery facility is also critical. It’s not only disasters that can make it necessary—many clients are using their work-area recovery contracts to provide extra office space to comply with social distancing requirements.

Overt communication is critical. 

Whether you are a CEO of a large corporation or a small business owner, communication skills are some of the most important for a leader in any circumstance. Over the last three months during a pandemic that resulted in an economic shutdown, regular and effective communication with employees and customers has never been more critical.

During a crisis, candid, unfiltered, regular communication is vital. Be candid, honest, and share information often. The worst thing you can do is let employees or customers draw their own conclusions. Communicating often allows you to control important messages, provide extremely relevant and timely data, answer the plethora of questions you may be receiving and keep rumors to a minimum.

Plan for the unexpected. 

It’s worth emphasising that planning should not be too focused on specific risks. Your plan must also be able to be adapted to cope with the unexpected. Nobody foresaw the extent of COVID-19 and the rapidity with which the global response escalated—but those who had a flexible plan have proved to be more resilient than others.

What we do now will determine our future success

What are you doing right now in your business? Are you curled up in a fetal position, waiting for things to get better, or are you proactively finding creative ways to market your business? Are you mired in the process of applying for financing, or are you also keeping an eye on how you can keep employees working?

It’s scary. We can agree on that. But doing nothing isn’t going to help the millions of small businesses in this country weather this. We’ve got to be proactive about planning for right now—even if that means veering off of the business plan path—and also think about how we need to pivot for the future.

Don’t invest in equity for short-term goals: 

Coronavirus has sent domestic markets for a tailspin. Investors have lost money accumulated over the years. The market is extremely volatile and the risk is high. Some people who have invested in equities for short-term goals like buying a car or bike etc have been struggling because of market volatility. It is no secret that when the market is on a high, equities deliver solid returns but in uncertain times like these when the markets volatile and are yet to recover from COVID-19 crisis, it’s safer to move your investments. Otherwise, you might be left short of your goal.

When we will emerge from this current crisis is uncertain, but based on my experience one thing remains true. We all rely on leaders to thoughtfully navigate choppy waters with resolve and strength. The long-term implications of the restrictions caused by the pandemic may alter our mindset and fundamental values permanently. Why drive or fly to that business meeting when it worked so well on Video Meetings? With the unintended benefits of sheltering at home, such as reducing our global carbon footprint, it may be difficult to return to the old ways of doing things. For better or worse, the crisis has forced us to experience a slower-paced, family-focused life at the forefront of our “new normal.”

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