“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” is a quote often attributed to Charles Darwin.
After living fifteen months with the pandemic, some entrepreneurs have succeeded to survive… or so it seems.
Many businesses have closed or have no way to peddle their wares amidst restricted timings and Covid protocols in the market. However, some entrepreneurs have found ways to stay in business, not just for the thrill of growth, but to satiate a basic need of humankind – to put food on the table.
Talking to a few standalone entrepreneurs, here are few pointers that have helped sustain businesses in this uncertain word:
Accept Change: A key aspect of an entrepreneur’s survival kit, which has helped many to make a dash for it, while the competition lay low hoping for the clouds to pass. Those, who saw this as a new normal, tuned their focus for a new world order and managed to keep their masked faces and heads above water.
Remodel Business: Many survivors took a hard long look at their business and tweaked its model, keenly focussing on revenues and cash flows to stay afloat. It is a bitter pill to swallow when you see numbers so low that you never imagined. But then, it is all about survival remember?
Pivot: Many in the restaurant trade have kept their kitchen burners on by shifting to a cash-and-carry mode. Restaurateurs were hurt with dining-in being no longer an option in total or partial lockdowns, and the limit on number of tables in restricted unlock periods. Similarly, we have seen vegetable and livestock vendors selling their catch / produce from their vehicles.
Digitise: Those hesitating over the years to take their businesses digital have now been forced to change. Brick and mortar businesses had to rewire their models and turn digital. Many kirana shops now share their menus via messaging apps, and most accept payment via digital payment gateways – a huge change in digitising India, which has been hastened by the pandemic.
Network: Survival makes you find strange bedfellows! Entrepreneurs who are part of their trade bodies have found help coming their way from unexpected quarters – their own competitors. This has spawned an era of co-operation and has helped many to benefit from business networks.
Find New Markets: As they say, there are only two ways to grow a business; either find a new customer or make your existing customer spend more. With the latter being a bleak possibility, entrepreneurs are finding new customers beyond their usual hunting grounds. Digitisation of their businesses has helped them in this endeavour, as well.
Yes, things are far from being rosy, and worse, the pandemic is far from being over. Last year, around this time, I recall a conversation with a naysayer, who was only happy to predict that doomsday was finally here and that Goan businesses will be wiped out.
I am a firm believer in the human spirit of triumphing over adversity. Years of entrepreneurship and navigating the rough and tumble of running your own enterprise add a sensory edge to your armour that guides you to smell your truffles.
When I read the interesting stories about businesses in this magazine, and mind you, the list keeps growing, despite the pandemic. The stories of enterprises, being built and nurtured in these challenging times, send out a glimmer of hope to me. I am sure there are others who feel likewise