The grave new respiratory virus called the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 is making headlines for causing an outbreak of respiratory illness throughout the world. The outbreak began in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and is quickly spreading internationally. In India itself, the confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 206 as on Friday (March 20, 2020) as reported by the Union Health Ministry.
The situation is grim and should be dealt by enforcing strong healthcare measures, channeling awareness and aggressively working on the long term combat strategy. The Covid-19 crisis is fast affecting almost every industry in India. The stock markets have dropped tremendously over the past few weeks. Experts estimate that India’s GDP growth this fiscal is going to decline to as low as 4.5%. Industries like Automobile, Electronics, F&B, and Aviation are currently facing the most turbulent times. While small businesses were already struggling with prevailing demonetization challenges, GST compliance and liquidity woes, along with global economic slowdown, this phase of the Corona outbreak is making things worse.
In the wake of the Corona outbreak, on March 19, 2020, PM Narendra Modi has urged the nation to follow a self-imposed, one-day curfew on March 22, 2020, calling it ‘Janata Curfew’. This will ensure a deliberate control of the spread of the virus. People will have to follow ‘social distancing’ by refraining from going out for a few weeks and planning all non-critical tasks to be done from home. Traders’ body – the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has declared that all traders across the country will keep their shops, businesses closed on March 22 (Sunday) from 7 am to 9 pm.
With all this going on, to keep the business financially afloat, business owners need to change the way they operate today. We have compiled a list of 5 best practices which you can easily adopt today and tackle the Corona situation head-on:
1. Accept Digital payments over Cash
Avoid hand-to-hand cash transfers and substitute them with digital payments. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked people to opt for non-cash digital payment options (like NEFT, IMPS, UPI and BBPS), which will be available round the clock to facilitate fund transfers, purchase of goods/services, payment of bills, etc.
2. Reduce in-person meetings/handshakes
We all know how important and helpful it is to constantly stay in touch with your business clients (customers, suppliers, partners, etc). This inculcates confidence, trust and builds strong relationships which are crucial ingredients for any healthy business. With the present Corona outbreak and self-control situations, you can take your business meetings online and try collaborating as much as possible on calls/texts. Free of cost calling/messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. should be used actively while you have your team working from homes.
3. Run business digitally
With the combined boon of affordable smartphones and cheaper data, monitoring your business operations through your mobile phones is easier than ever. You can simply switch to simple mobile billing & accounting apps like – FloBooks, with which you can record all kinds of business transactions, manage/adjust stock inventory and create professional bills/quotations instantly. You can easily print and share quotations/bills and also send payment reminders to get paid faster.
4. Follow the rule – 20 seconds long hand wash
WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak as pandemic due to its fast-spreading, infectious nature. To smartly combat this, people are required to follow a simple rule of thumb – a 20 seconds long hand wash immediately after coming home from outside or before eating/cooking anything. For receiving/collecting goods, use gloves and keep sanitizing your hands as well as things to avoid being contracted by Covid-19. It’s best to keep sanitizers in your shops/offices and motivate everyone to use them without fail.
5. Show empathy to people working
History has shown such epidemics have hit the nations hard in the past, but none has sustained for long. We need to stay strong and exhibit positivity in order to deal with this outbreak too. While people are asked to stay indoors and businesses continue to operate online, there might be cases where few of your team members might be stepping outside and working for you. All you need to do is be thankful and show appreciation/gratitude to those people who are still working in an emergency.
Sangita Reddy, joint Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., a leading hospital chain, and President of business chamber FICCI, says:
“If the Covid crisis is 3-6 months, the recovery cycle, if something significant is not done now, will be 3-6 years. It is very important to not worry about the fiscal deficit. Whether it is a Rs 3-5 lakh crore stimulus across the board, for every sector from farming to manufacturing to services to exports, it has to be put into place. I think we have to not waste the crisis as Winston Churchill said. Never waste a good crisis. We must use this to reset our targets and our approach to business and economy and the play that we make globally.”
Follow all the above necessary steps in order to contain the outbreak and reduce the impact of lockdown on your business. If you liked this blog, please share it in your business network and keep doing business safely and smartly.