March 30, 2020

Navigating your business through the COVID-19 crisis

Business circles are abuzz with views on the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The concerns are not unfounded. From a financial viewpoint, businesses need to reassess and prepare themselves for tough times to come. As the government and medical community tackle the disease spread, companies should support such initiatives and make their operations strong and sustainable to tide over the crisis.

Given that the current situation will continue for some time until mitigation methods are successfully put in place, every business should be prepared to stay on course. In my view, entrepreneurs and business owners could do well by implementing a few measures to safeguard their business:

Operate prudently

My advice would be to focus on operating in a cost-efficient and prudent manner. Concentrate on strengthening your business through sharper internal controls. Cut down on unnecessary expenses and save costs wherever possible. Cashflow management is critical as credit will get tighter. Surviving this downturn will be a key measure of success for every business.

Have faith in your government and let us fight to flatten the curve

Businesses, like citizens, need to have faith in their government; they are doing everything to control the pandemic. Across the world, countries are working towards the economic stimulus, but companies need to be patient. Expecting that the benefits will reach us immediately is not practical. The policies will benefit businesses, but till that time, we need to hold strong to get through the crisis. In parallel, industries should work with governments to flatten the curve.

Be patient and consolidate for the long-term

Anything driven by panic or done in haste will do more harm than good in the long run. This holds true for both individuals and businesses. For example, trying to liquidate assets immediately may not result in the best value. Acting in distress will devalue your wealth further. Instead, corporations can look at the crisis as a wonderful opportunity to stay on course through consolidation.

It is a good time to step back and re-focus your strengths not only on survival but also coming out stronger from this crisis.

Act responsibly

Businesses should act carefully and responsibly. Please remember, hard measures such as company closure will have a knock-on effect with loss of jobs and livelihoods. It is time that business leaders conduct themselves with utmost prudence, abundant caution and conserve all possible resources to tide over the situation. For any organisational leader, it is vital to ensure that this crisis passes with minimum turbulence to employees and stakeholders.

Aim for self-sufficiency

Sustainable business practices by which companies can support themselves will be crucial for survival. Local production and the domestic industry will get a fillip and organisations should work towards serving customers efficiently. Amidst the uncertainty, dependence on third parties and other external factors should be minimised to achieve self-sufficiency. Doing things in-house will entail cost benefits.

Don’t forget the lesson

Every crisis comes with a lesson. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of primary healthcare and hygiene at a basic level – for both individuals and communities. Clean and healthy practices go a long way in ensuring better immunity. Ultimately, lessening the burden on public healthcare infrastructure is much needed. With the group’s CSR arm, AM Foundation working in these areas, our focus on delivering long-term impact both at an individual and national level stands reaffirmed.

Staying focused, adaptable and prudent while consolidating one’s strengths are vital measures every corporation should prepare itself with. Going forward, the crisis will help businesses brace for building the financial, operating and product flexibility to make us stronger for the next downturn.