9 Founders Shared their tips on Surviving Coronavirus Outbreak?

Apart from being a threat to public health, COVID-19 has also emerged as a threat to the global economy. Indian Government has put restrictions on regular movement, malls, public spaces, offices. Everything except essential things has been locked down. During this time of uncertainty and unrest, small businesses have been hit the hardest.

Flight, hotel booking firms are the worst hit. Whereas, at the same time, video conferencing providers and online education companies, messaging platforms and of course healthcare & pharmaceutical companies are witnessing a boom in demand but the situation has become for worse for the startups & small scale businesses as they have limited sources and capital.

Indian benchmark indices (BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty) have fallen over 20% this month with foreign investors pulling out around Rs. 38,000 crores fearing recession Analysts predict that the impact of coronavirus in India will shave off 0.5% of India’s GDP growth in FY21. The impact on Indian trade alone is estimated to be more than Rs 34.8 crores.

These macroeconomic headwinds have already affected sale of white labelled goods which contribute half of the GMV of ecommerce companies. Retrenchments and downsizing in the startup ecosystem have started to accelerate as businesses take a hard look at steep operational costs and dipping demand in an uncertain environment made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic. Oyo, Bounce, Udaan and Drivezy have begun laying off staff.

While India has taken early measures to contain the virus, there is still uncertainty around how long this pandemic might last. Governments in Europe and USA have already announced aid packages for small businesses and India might have to go down the same route to revive the economy.

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How will small businesses survive during Coronavirus India outbreak
How will small businesses survive during Corona Virus outbreak

We have asked few companies how small companies can survive when Corona Virus has affected the economy and so many businesses around the globe.

Rising Sun

Inatur Ayurveda & Aromatherapy manufactures Organic and Natural skin, hair care and wellness products. These are safer, eco-friendly, and more effective skin care products. Lets get views of Ms Pooja Nagdev, Founder and CEO, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
The Coronavirus crisis presents the economy and businesses with challenges but also with some opportunities. All of us have got time now to review and reflect. This is the time to plan new strategies, check all costs and overheads. Small businesses will have to cut down unnecessary costs and expenditures in order to be profitable.

Indi Collage

Indi Collage is a Fractional Retail platform. It helps brands expand into new markets without the overheads of expensive retail spaces. We talked to Anuradha Singh, on how will small business can survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
We are focusing on building a base & giving flexible options to our customers to take later tentative dates for booking their popups at our spaces.

Zamit

Zamit is an information, engagement and interaction platform that networks schools, students, teachers, parents, and school service providers. We talked to Aarul Malaviya, Founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
Coronavirus has created a deep global recession across the world. In case of the Indian market, all the small businesses will suffer a short, serious but not catastrophic recession. Consumers should help these small businesses in any possible way they can since they're the driving force for these businesses.

  • Tax relief is something which will help in relieving a major amount of pressure from these small business owners.
  • All the business owners need to opt for extra cost cutting in their businesses which includes- minimized travel, cancelling any non-essential subscriptions, reduce online sponsored posts, reduce or eliminate meetings to reduce expenses, pause any large costs that could be undertaken at a later stage.
  • They also need to set clear and realistic business plan and at the same time, motivating the employees to pull this off together as a team and irrespective of mode of working, every employee should be there to help each other as in when it is needed to keep the boat floating peacefully.

CASA EXOTIQUE

Established with an urge to deliver incredible experiences, Casa Exotique has redefined a new benchmark for remarkable interiors and exquisite finishes. We talked to Ms. Bhawana Bhatnagar, Interior Stylist, Founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
Needless to say, this outbreak is detrimental to the economy – especially the small business firms that do not have very deep pockets to support their staff without doing business in the time of this crisis.

  • To survive this pandemic, there is a need to have open communication with the staff. Everyone can pitch in their ideas on how to keep the business running in such a tough time. By starting the chain of dialogue, more innovative ideas would come to light and effective plans can subsequently be put into place.
  • Obviously, if the situation gets worse, work from home will probably be the only option. Businesses that are based on IT infrastructure would find it easier to manage work than the ones that require fieldwork. Alternate working hours can be one option for such firms.
  • The time is beckoning to the employers to put contingencies and crisis management plans in action. Those who have worked out such plans would be at an advantage in the coming months in terms of managing their business.

121 Experiences

121 Experiences is India's first ever out of the Line agency. 121 Experiences specializes in experiential brand communicating solutions to drive behaviour changing consumer habits. We talked to Aniket Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.

  • All small businesses will need to learn to optimise their resources.
  • Maintaining transparency with the internal employees and customers can help with innovate solutions.
  • The spirit of survival is going to be the key, staying positive will help think straight in these times of difficulty.
  • Collaborating with competition instead of cutting costs will be pivotal to sail through together instead of trying to on up the other.

MyStarHub

In their endeavor to create the most authentic and memorable fan experiences across the world, MyStarHub provides a platform where fans can book personalized video shoutouts from their favorite celebrities. We talked to Swapnil Mahajan, Founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.

  • Even though the Coronavirus has a negative influence on the market worldwide, it has also opened up doors of opportunities for smaller and unconventional businesses in the longer run.
  • In situations like this, the reliance of overseas suppliers will decrease and demand for local products will increase. Also with limited resources in hand, these small scale businesses, in particular, will innovate ways to survive the uncertainties and bounce back.
  • Besides this, the government aid and relaxations will help a lot of small businesses manage funds to keep the business going.

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Dineout

Dineout is India’s largest Dining out and Restaurant tech platform, helping more than 17 million diners monthly discover new restaurants, reserve a table, pay for their bills and get offers and discounts combined with a SaaS product offering to its restaurant partners manage their operations. We talked to Ankit Mehrotra, Co-founder & CEO, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
We work with more than 40,000 restaurants in India, and the common concern right now is that since no one knows when this will end, there is no way to evaluate the potential business impact. However, it is also severely impacting the bottom line of small businesses like restaurants since their dining operations are temporarily closed.

  • We are advising our partners to look for ways to stay connected with their customers by means of adding flexibility in their operations. By offering a discount on take-home orders, free delivery, using popular delivery services and special discounts for its existing members opting for home deliveries.
  • While, no one knows how much longer this situation is going to persist, the one thing that has emerged from this crisis is the absolute need of technology! We’re working closely with our restaurant partners to support them with our B2B technology products in effectively managing deliveries.
  • We are also preparing for when this pandemic subsides and it’s business as usual to help our restaurant partners get back up and running powered stronger by technology.

Packman Packaging

Packman Packaging is one of India’s largest manufacturers of corrugated boxes, corrugated rolls, bubble rolls, bubble pouches, courier bags, POD jackets, duct tapes, e-commerce shipping bags and more. We talked to Gaurav Jalan, Director and Founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.

No doubt coronavirus has impacted several businesses. But one needs to think about the bigger picture. Yes these are hard times particularly for small businesses. But with proper information and following certain guidelines they can survive it too.

If you take an example some markets in Mumbai have decided to work on alternate days just like an odd even program. One day markets on right and on other day the shops on left will remain open. This is a good concept and also ensures time to time income is generated. But yes cannot rule out certain degree of financial losses.

Bridged.co

Bridged uses a combination of AI and a 13,000 strong highly skilled workforce to develop unique and vast data at scale significantly improving the quality of data models. We talked to Ashwin Chalam, CEO, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.

  • Here's an opportunity for businesses to reassess their spending and identify areas of unproductivity. After that, businesses should direct all their efforts into ensuring that their money-making product/service keeps them afloat. Or, they might need to pivot and update their gameplan with new offerings, offerings that a coronavirus-affected market will accept.
  • Businesses will also have to make difficult decisions such as laying off loyal employees and scaling down on certain perks. But, until the coronavirus phase passes, they will have no other choice but to exercise monetary caution.

St. Angelo's VNCT Ventures

With a unique approach to real estate development, SAVV Global offers value deliveries, superior design, world class amenities and infrastructure, coupled with timely deliveries and after-sales service. We talked to Mr. Agnelorajesh Athaide, Co-founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic is supposedly estimated to hit the economic growth by up to 50bps in FY 21, with the first two quarters slowing down at 4.4.5%, as per government sources. Although these are tough times, entrepreneurs can actually use this to effectively reflect and strategize the way forward, with a resilient attitude and a winning mindset.

  • Instead of spending the time counting the losses or panicking over the situation, the slowdown could actually be a boon. It is an opportunity allowing start-up founders to take stock of the situation, envision the market needs and demands after the pandemic is over, and gear up for a fresh start.
  • From learning new skills, conducting employee reviews, collaborating with new vendors/ chalking out an innovative product, to diversifying the business, the current lockdown can be effectively used as an opportunity by visionary and resilient entrepreneurs.

Skilfinity

Skilfinity is full service Digital Marketing & Analytics Company, with operations in Singapore & India. We talked to Ujjal De, Co-founder, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.
Now is the time for longevity and surviving the crisis and not trying to use the situation and health scare as an opportunity.

  • Build community and trust for your brand by giving back in any way possible, to ensure, when this all is over, people invest in your brand.
  • Evaluate the offline marketing strategy and switch to bring as many online eyeballs as possible for all business, across industries.
  • Keep calm, be tenacious, support other businesses in any way possible and take the necessary steps so that you come out of this disruption stronger than ever.

Grooming Naturals

Groominh Naturals owns the brand RAWNATURE which is a line of conscious beauty products that is natural, vegan and designed to work within Indian weather conditions and suited to our people. It cover products across skin care, hair care and bath and shower and cater to both men and women. We talked to Mohit Saxena, on how will small business survive during Coronavirus outbreak.

The key to survival will lie in managing what we can control. We will hopefully soon emerge from this crisis but even if we do, it will be far from over as the aftereffects of the COVID syndrome will stay for a while even after it is gone. Some of the areas we as a company need to be focussed on:

PRODUCT LEVEL

  1. Look at our product portfolio and focus on what sells the most (say top 3 products). FOCUS ON OUR HERO PRODUCTS. This will help us reduce slow moving inventory risk and increase sales cycle. Also, the manufacturing will be easier as we will have only 20% of the SKUs that we will largely focus on.
  2. Relook at what people need in this time and if we can offer that as a solution. We make grooming essentials that are natural and clean. For us introducing a line of hygiene products that are plant based and effective will be more important and a natural extension than say a line of skin care. CREATE A MUST HAVE PRODUCT LINE from our portfolio.
  3. The consumers will be a bit wary for a while till the time the influence of COVID goes in the backburner. It will be prudent to GET MORE AFFORDABLE either by changing pack size or by offering more of the product at old price.

ORGANISATIONAL LEVEL

  1. We will need to stay lean – Morally the last option is a lay off in these times. As entrepreneurs, we are responsible to our people and their families. Having said that, even the employees will agree that in these tough times, all hands need to be on the deck. Looking at salaries and minimising it basis seniority will be the need of the hour. Reducing manpower cost v/s the manpower itself should be the 1st priority
  2. A complete freeze on hiring for a substantial period going ahead will also be needed. Multi-tasking, multi skilling and figuring more efficient ways of managing day to day operations using technology or even outsourcing of certain operations will become key.

PROFITABILITY and CASH FLOWS

  1. Post COVID, the need to be profitable will be ‘urgent’. This immediately will become the new buzz word. Not growth rate, not GMV sales, not multiple markets but positive cash flows and profitability.
  2. Plugging leaks in marketing and acquisitions drives, strategic alliances to reduce cost of sales, CRM and customer management, new markets and better GM’s on new products will be areas of focus till this financial winter thaws out.
  3. Reduce all additional costs and go back to being a bootstrapped venture. Shut every single cost head that can be closed and rationalise/minimise the others.

FUNDRAISE

  1. While it may sound contrary to the market sentiment, if your product and business model is solid, fundraise will happen. However, 9-12 months from now this sentiment may change in case the after effect of COVID does not subside. So, we need to get what we can and brace for a longer runway. Since our focus now will be on profitability, this runway can will be substantially longer with the same money than we expect and must be the way ahead till we see the summer again.

Emerging from this crisis will be a gradual process. It’s important to plan appropriately and find various alternate ways of sales and financing.  

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Hipcouch

Hipcouch is an end to end interior design + build solutions startup based in Lower Parel, Mumbai. We talked to Pankaj Poddar, Founder, on how will small business survive when Coronavirus has affected the economy and so many businesses around the globe.
Small businesses, as a first measure, have to look really hard at their expenses and trim out anything that might constitute as fat. Secondly, and equally importantly, you have to put in place a business continuity plan coupled with scenario analyses. We have never collectively faced so much disruption and uncertainty on a global level and preserving capital should be the topmost priority.

IoTfy

IoTfy is a #MakeinIndia IoT & AI cloud suite that superpowers consumer durable brands to add IoT capabilities to their device categories. We talked to Arpit Chhabra, Founder, on how will small business survive when Coronavirus has affected the economy and so many businesses around the globe.

At IoTfy we are deploying a futuristic approach to mitigate the impact of the 21 days lockdown, on the business. Given we are a products' company, we have already started focussing on the next set of features/products that are in the pipeline. The idea is to utilise this time well and invest in future product conception and planning during this period, where most businesses are trying to focus on the recovery aspect. To that end, we have already started planning two quarters ahead and are gearing for the spike in demand IoTfy is expected to witness from the brand partners, who have suffered huge losses on account of the global supply chains being disrupted due to Covid19 outbreak.

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About Ashwini

  • Maharastra
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