We are officially entering the post- pandemic world.
If you are someone who owns a small business, particularly in the service sector, you would know the stress and the uncertainty that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic caused in your life.
The pandemic was something the world hadn’t experienced for many decades; it led to almost all countries imposing strict lockdowns for several months.
The year 2020 was spent with people all around the world cooped in their houses bombarded with news, the heavy toll both in the number of cases of the infections and the massive number of deaths owing to the outbreak.
India was no exception, and as a result, businesses started getting affected, and those who had probably ventured into a new company, already not stable; it was a nightmare; some had to shut shop!
The pandemic led to many uncertainties, which none of us expected or were prepared for.
The UN secretary-general called the pandemic “a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations.”.
Halleluyah, Pandemic on the Ease
Today, after a tough one and a half years, the pandemic seems to be ebbing, not gone entirely, but it lacks the punch it served before.
While we are still not there, the world we remembered before the pandemic, however, things are seeming to come back to normalcy.
But this is the harsh truth; in the course of the time it took for the pandemic to ease out, several businesses will have to start everything from scratch while some who managed to wait it out – it would mean climbing the challenging heights of now making the businesses profitable to cover the losses sustained.
Business Strategies, Plan of Actions
The future of the economy, the key feature being uncertainty, is something businesses will grapple with as new business strategies, innovation, and advanced competencies would be the need of the hour.
Since the social distancing measure needs to be kept in mind post-pandemic also, the business pattern will change throughout.
The three significant keys of business priorities- cash preservation, customer experience, and employee engagement, also need to be modified and an action plan ready if we were to experience another wave of the pandemic or any other such calamities in the future.
- Businesses will have to factor in distressing situations carefully in their long-term plans such that their companies don’t suffer.
- Businesses will have to start working proactively, as sustainability and profit may be a tough call in the first year.
“At the end of March, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had announced that the global economy had entered a recession that could be even worse than the major crash of the late 2000s.”
Surely the Government would Help!
In the first couple of months, small business owners thought there would be some slew of measures that the government would announce, something that would extend a helping hand as several business owners saw a very bleak time indeed.
Although the government made announcements from time to time, it was apparent to the small business owners that they were mainly on their own.
What is needed in the Post-Pandemic World?
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many industries; perhaps for many, it has led to irreversible changes.
Some industries need to enhance their preparedness for crises from a technology and process perspective after the pandemic ends.
Small Business: The contribution of the small and medium enterprises in India stands as high as 80% compared with the rest of the world – 60% in China, 69.50% in Japan, and 20.25% in Bangladesh.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to around 70-80% of the people in the informal sectors being jobless, and a large number of small and medium enterprises are also in debt.
One of the main problems small-time business owners were forced to face is the liquidity crunch, and this challenge could be hounding many businesses even in the current scenario.
What measures will the government now take in the post-pandemic world, and how can they counter the plagues that the economy faces – rising fuel prices, inflation, commodity prices, and situations that have a global impact such as the energy crises, political upheavals, remains to be seen.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners would be required to make their business efficient and self-dependent, secure liquidity, and create an active digital presence to save their businesses from dooming in the post-pandemic world.
Crowd Gathering Businesses/ Service Sector: Coronavirus has restricted the working of many crowd-gathering businesses, such as restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, etc., without any warning.
To address the issue of social distancing, companies with crowd-friendly environments would need to prepare for limited-contact options to wary customers. Restaurants need to replan to incorporate more spacious seating and contactless menus, utensils, etc.
Movie theatres also will have to block out seats among different batches. Gyms must also incorporate sanitizing equipment and start enforcing wipe-down rules with members.
The Big Question
While business owners and the people at large are celebrating the opening of the economy, the big question and an important one at that is – will social distancing be forgotten as the race to make up for the lost time and also to make profits sits high on the agenda.
The fact is that another wave of the Covid – 19 pandemic could essentially wipe out all small businesses and play havoc for the service sector, something that would be hard to recover from even though they might have survived the onslaught the first two times.
Hence, throwing caution to the wind would be premature, and if so, what it does to the businesses the third time should be carefully thought about.
Unfortunately, the onus not only lies on the business owners and their employees but also as consumers; we play and have an equal responsibility to act with caution and adhere to the social distancing norms; however, we know that already but will we act with responsibility, times will tell!
Hence, while we shout hallelujah for the good times to roll, expectations for life to return to normal must be deliberated upon because the reality of the COVID-19 situation is that businesses will have to edit down the plans of their business strategy and to work to meet the consumers’ expectations, to survive economic fallout, to make their businesses grow in the long run and to earn profit at the same time.