Business Strategies for Surviving a Pandemic

Following are key takeaways from Part 1 of our Business Health During a Pandemic webinar series. Watch the video here.

  • Set priorities – our guests recommend cash first, communication second, and control third
    • Cash: they recommend projecting cash runway and how long it will last – see Part 2 for more
      • Negotiate
      • Consider (accepting or offering) cash alternatives, such as equity
      • Take grace periods
    • Communications:
      • Communication, and planning, are key! Be transparent with employees, investors, and customers
      • To employees, clients, vendors, this needs to be done quickly and clearly, ideally it should be coordinated and consistent
      • Communicate to customers and vendors now rather than when the bad news hits, prepare them
      • Communicate that you have a plan and are in control
      • Stay connected with team and colleagues, such as with virtual lunch, in order to keep morale up
      • Remind employees of EAP program
    • Control: Rapidly assess what you can control and immediately assert control over those items – stop spending, review budget and forecast, and use tools available to gain control (e.g. policies and procedures on expense report, staff, purchasing, etc.)
  • Opportunity – to transform
    • Improve practices
      • This is forcing companies to move to paperless and test remote working situations
      • Improve customer service
      • Adapt to tools and technologies that represent best practices now
    • Differentiate – differentiate customer service by calling clients and seeing how you can help them get through this
    • Test new products and methods
    • Approach new customers
    • Explore new supply chains and distribution channels
    • Test new ways to use current resources (e.g. manufacturing line, human capital, distribution)
    • Leverage financially troubled areas, like Appalachia, manufacturing that has ground to a halt, local resources (e.g. for materials such as paper)
    • If your company has transitioned to a virtual work environment, consider the possibility of keeping it that way after this is over to reduce costs/open up your talent pool
    • 3D printing presents substantial opportunities
    • Focus on marketing
      • Evaluate your business model and approach to marketing for weaknesses and new opportunities
      • Ask – Is there another way you can deliver your product? Is there another product you can deliver? Is there another market for your product?
    • This could lead to cheaper prices for supplies, human capital, and overhead
    • Now may be a good time to acquire a company you think would be a good fit
    • Review contracts for clauses exempting payment obligations due to disaster
    • If you don’t already have it, consider Business interruption insurances for future situations such as these
    • Now is the time to negotiate – with customers and vendors (payables) – on cash and alternatives to cash
    • Slow things down to gain greater control
  • Innovation – will be critical to succeed! (See more tips on our website.)
    • Be strategic about staffing – e.g. furloughs in lieu of layoff
    • Seek out new partnerships (e.g. distillers now working with soap or cologne manufacturers)
    • What services can you deliver differently, such as online or through someone else’s distribution system?
    • Reduce constraints and become more flexible
    • Develop or enhance your online communication tools, or come up with a new product, or target audience.
  • Evaluate books and practices
    • Evaluate your books for risks and weaknesses and take action
    • Is this part of an ongoing system problem or something new?
    • Opportunity to clean up financials to apply for loans or show shareholders you will be okay
  • Leverage your network – consult with your advisors, service providers, and others for solutions
  • Track COVID-19 driven expenses and data, including sick vs. COVID-19 related leave, as completely and accurately as possible for:
    • A variety of potential tax credits
    • To tie sales losses to the period
  • Companies best positioned to succeed:
    • Innovate
    • Can help other companies innovate efficiently and cost effectively (e.g. delivery services, apps)
  • Uncertainty
    • There’s a lot of it, and this is unlike anything anyone currently alive has experienced
    • Mitigate by planning, such as around staffing if mandatory social distancing continues several months
  • Takeaways for the future (changes we might see):
    • Wise companies will anticipate what the recovery will look like and capitalize on that strategically
    • More contract and temp work as companies are reluctant to hire initially which will favor companies that provide solutions for contract and temp work
    • Diversify your supply chain
    • Moving to working remotely may open companies up to a new pool of clients and candidates
    • Use of apps, such as whiteboard apps and Zoom, for work will increase