Preparing a business for a pandemic

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Can you be ready for a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic? No, you can’t. However, as of March 2020, the difference between companies that have been running an effective operation, and “money-spenders” has become evident and colossal.

Here are the things you can do to help your business survive the next COVID-19/asteroid.

Save cash

If you have a solid cashflow, you are GOLDEN as a business. What does a “solid cashflow” mean? Basically, it means that you have money in the bank. Some say you should have enough for a runway of 6 months. Jason Calacanis (angel investor from the Silicon Valley) has previously stated that it should be 12 months.

Whatever the period is, the more cash you have going into your account, the more likely you are to withstand and recover from : complete loss of business, potential staff shortage, and circumstances that none of us can predict (think 2008 crisis).

Balanced growth

In 2010’s “growth” was the name of the game. Uber hasn’t yet been profitable, WeWork proved to be the ultimate bubble and new bubbles were popping up all over the world like pimples, fuelled by venture capital and private investors’ money. The moment something goes wrong, or a pandemic strikes – all of these bubbles pop. If you are growing, have cash reserves or potential additional investments from your backers… or be prepared to lay off marketing, sales and all other “non-essential” staff, as Uber did in 2019.

Growing is important, growing is a good sign for a company. However, if the ROI (Return On Investment) is not good, and you are still losing money after you have cut down on your marketing costs, you are in trouble. Re-evaluate your business model, and see what you can do to increase your bottom line.

Having a B & a C plans

Always have a strategy for when things go wrong. What costs will you be able to cut, without making anyone redundant if possible? Who will you have to make redundant? Can you use any of your product’s features to monetise it further? Would you need to reach out to more people and do more work yourself as the owner?

All of these questions you need to be prepared for, because otherwise, you won’t be ready. And if you are not ready, the above question about redundancy will be the first thing on your mind, and that’s just wrong. If your employees are taking care of your business – business and you must take care of them.

Diversification?

Diversifying business to withstand a hit in particular areas is hard. Monsters like Microsoft or Uber might be able to do that – they can offer 2-3 different services and products and be successful, and rely on revenue from just one of those in hard times. But a small operator usually has to concentrate on one particular thing that makes them special, for a niche type of customer. Therefore, rather than diversifying business and offering a lot of services and products…

Be flexible

yes, you need to be flexible. When something isn’t working out, or your product is failing, see what you can pivot to with your current capabilities and processes that can be adjusted, to make sure you meet the challenge HEAD ON.

This means:

  1. You need a team that can take on other tasks, so people who are not afraid of new challenges.
  2. Processes that are not engraved in stone, so that they can be changed and rewritten to adjust the business to a new reality.
  3. Having a business model where you are not over-reliant on one/two suppliers. You need to be able to have other options available at your disposal.

Hard times are always tough, but we can do so much more to prepare for them when the times are good.

If you want peace, prepare for war

Vegetius

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