8 ways women entrepreneurs can turn Covid crisis into opportunity

By Vertica Dvivedi

Leaders are accustomed to steering from the driving seat, however, the testing times of today require entrepreneurs to manoeuvre multiple channels through uncertain twists and turns. It is the time to be highly alert, resilient and adaptable. Your response to circumstances today will decide your company’s future tomorrow. Kiran Bedi, Lt. Governor, Puducherry, has put this in a perfect way during my digital show, ‘The Vertica Dvivedi Show’ recently. “Accept the reality as it is. It will help you get prepared for bouncing back,” she advised. These are some of the ways I think women entrepreneurs can turn a crisis into opportunity.

1. Form a crisis management team

Sailing through a crisis is better with a team. This team should include the heads of various departments as well as their key people. If you can rope in external advisors for areas outside your expertise, that will complete this team. There are several benefits of creating this team – accountability, focus on solving rather than deliberating, and a clear response with solution to the problems. People in this team would be more open to learning, training and responsive to situations. This team can become your biggest strength today and asset for the future.

2. Channelize your internal & external communications effectively

Honesty and transparency in communication will be paramount at this stage. Clarity is the key. Make it clear to everyone that the situation is fluid and company’s priorities may shift now and then. It is time to call the vendors before they call you for money to convey how you will be able to pay. You can ask for support and in return support them. A robust and transparent communication system will help you in dismissing the everyday bottlenecks. Clarity helps people to get and give support during crises. Clear communication will help you in decision making. It will also make it clear about who is there for you and who is not. You may have to pop in some bitter pills at times. It is better to face bitter situations at present for a better future.

3. Plan the contingency fund

Businesses are always on the move, from one plan to another. Small businesses mostly work on the edge. With the Covid crisis, many of the businesses have learnt the value of contingency funds. Since we have no idea how long this crisis will last, it is advisable to increase the liquid fund for another few months. The mantra is simple. Your planning for funds must be money required for running the business for x months plus emergency fund for y months. As the stock market is falling, many might get lured to use contingency funds to invest, my advice is a strict ‘No’.

4. Forget your long-term plans for now, plan for each day

Uncertainly brings fear along with it. I have seen many women leaders taking a backseat and imagining the situation would automatically turn back to normal. Yes, nothing is forever however, this time calls in for courage and action. There may not be a ‘normal’ again so it is better to adjust the new normal. This is the time to embrace uncertainty. Keep your long-term goals for the future and without wasting time, put all your energies into the present. Be agile to shift priorities and act as per problem. Uncertainty can be dealt with flexibility, agility, focus and fluidic preparedness. What I can see is that many of you would be coming out of it successfully with the best ideas of your lifetime and the best of performance. Opportunities sometimes come in the garb of a crisis. Just keep your eyes on the ball and hit it on the screws.

5. Fuel the catalysts for recovery

So, what can be the catalysts for recovery? Definitely it starts with you! Many organizations are under-utilizing their resources due to lack of clarity of their leaders. Every step that can take your company back to the road of recovery starts with your clarity. Press the refresh button, accept the reality, and embrace the uncertainty, for action. Next step is to mobilize your company’s strengths to re-align every asset for the purpose of recovery.

6. Use Covid-19 as the watershed moment for shifting business online

We know most of the B2B businesses have been about real time face-to-face meetings. Covid-19 outbreak has led to less interpersonal communications. This time should be effectively used to move your business online. Women entrepreneurs have often expressed the wish to do business meetings virtually which will give them more time for life and other work. This is the time. Use the opportunity to get accustomed to the new normal and shifting your work online. There has been no better time than today for this mega shift.

7. Right time to push B2B e-commerce

Unlike B2C, B2B businesses have been more about handshakes and offline meetings. The outbreak of Covid-19 has paved the much-needed way for the growth of B2B e-commerce. Already, in the last five years, B2B startups in India have more than tripled from 900 to 3,200 and the number is growing. Don’t miss the bus to ride the B2B success in e-commerce.

8. Re-calibrate your sales funnel for digital leads

We do not know when the Covid crisis will be over and it will be fine to meet without social distancing. However good you might be in sales, the new normal demands getting even better. First, the current clients may be dry with demands. Second, you have to work twice to understand how to generate demands from new ones with the new needs. Use digital tools extensively for enabling communications, establishing your expertise and then re-creating sales funnel for generating leads. If not now, then when?

(The writer is the host of The Vertica Dvivedi Show, Founder, WADE ASIA and Co-Chair, Women Entrepreneurs Committee, PHDCCI)


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