Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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It’s 2021 and the looming uncertainty has sent many businesses into a frenzy.  The tempest of economic disruption meant that some businesses were able to adapt while many others perished: 60 % of closed businesses won’t be re-opening as per Yelp.  That’s a difficult number to digest as no one paints a true picture about the dark underbelly of disruption: Imagine investing a chunk of your life savings in a business, only to see it never take-off and go under.

So, what can businesses, especially the small ones, do to navigate through the uncertainty of present times? How can they survive and perhaps emerge stronger?  Based on insights, let’s delve deeper into some of the tips that may help your business survive 2021 as new disruptions emerge.

Build a mind-space in your target audience

Ostensibly, for small and medium businesses, marketing is a critical component towards long-term success. Building a brand identity and effectively positioning it for your target audience is what can ensure business continuity today. For that matter, the businesses that have managed to survive 2020 are those who made a lasting impression on the customer’s psyche. Now, many regions are under a lockdown and businesses are unable to function at optimal levels, with a significant impact on revenues. However, maintaining a marketing presence is still critical to business continuity.  Not all marketing strategies will result in revenue but a business will garner profits eventually.

Focus on building a digital presence

Also, marketing does not have to be expensive. Building a digital presence is very important today and it does not have to be expensive. Studies depict that we are living in an attention economy with a large part of the world’s population using social media. This is especially true in India where Internet penetration is increasing significantly. Using paid and organic marketing strategic can also help unlock new opportunities for a business in the short and long term.  Social media is your best friend in an era of disruption. The focus should be on remaining embedded in the customer’s psyche.

Re-calibrate business goals

If the pandemic has taught us anything then it is better to be overprepared than get caught unaware or underprepared. Many start-ups have set forth ambitious business plans and it is time to re-evaluate those goals. Owing to the precarious times that we live, having conservative operating plans would be more realistic. It is always better to plan for the worst-case-scenarios while keeping the window of optimism open.  It is expected that the average deal sizes shall become smaller, sales cycles will increase, and businesses will exercise restrictions on spending.

As a manufacturer who may sell to SMBs, more flexible lending terms would be required as those businesses are just managing to stay afloat.  Disruption in the supply chains of companies that sell tangible products will become frequent in the event of the crisis worsening. In-person sales for any organizations will be severely impacted due to social distancing and digital selling will become the norm. Companies today, small and big, will have to transform their business models with a digital first approach in mind. In an era of Digital Darwinism, it is either adapt or perish.

Future outlook

2021 is as uncertain as 2020 was.  Businesses today must be prepared to make disruptive changes across the board and adapt to anything. Technologies like automation are expected to espouse the centre stage for companies engaged in manufacturing. The months ahead are going to be tough, in certain ways tougher than 2020, and companies can expect non-linear growth on digital platforms. Companies who are planning for the long-term may find this period as being a good time to invest in technology and the R&D infrastructure for the ‘new normal’.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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