While the government’s economic package claims to help small industries and startups, what is it that they can really expect to happen in the coming months? As GDP growth rate topples, Motivational Speaker and Life Coach, Sitender Sehrawat attempts to answer questions on startups
The Rise of Startup Culture
2019 saw over 50,000 Registered startups and $14 billion in funding alone. Predictions were that Indian startups by 2025 will contribute substantially to the $5 Trillion GDP aim valuing over $500 billion alone. That was despite their growing losses, keeping the founders up all night, and investors were still signing fat checks. All this sounds terrific till January this year, and then Coronavirus came to shatter ambitions, not just within India but Globally.
Mammoth organisations who dominated the skies and IT are now on the edge of going bankruptcy. It sure does sound scary. Before we know what to fix, let’s do a reality check and see what needs to be fixed.
The Pandemic Effect
The coronavirus pandemic has left many passionate founders pondering and trying to see beyond the clouds. The effect on the consumers is not only economical but also mental. From fashion to consumption of goods, to investment, construction, travel, hotels, restaurants, traditional media –everything and everyone is suffering.
Small-cap startups are finding it difficult to survive since there is no clarity. IMF has already given us a cold shiver saying south Asia’s economy is going to suffer profoundly. Not only startups but big established corporates are also revising their future plans. Big software projects are either canceled or put on indefinite hold. IATA predicts that just in aviation alone about 2 lakh people will lose their jobs.
The catastrophe doesn’t end there, people are going to take time to step out to eat and shop and do other things. A few pieces of research suggest that social distancing might be needed for as long as 2022 or even 2024. Hiring has almost been frozen. Since startups are always on the edge, cashflow is a big concern and it’s resulting in people closing shop. Not just Foodtech, HR, Fintech, logistic but decade-old startups that were profitable are finding polite ways to fire the leadership. It doesn’t happen in India. We are the third fastest startup ecosystem after the US & China. But what does the future look like to and what can we do to stay afloat. Let’s look at how businesses are going to evolve post lockdown.
As per a recent survey, 85 percent of people said they would refrain from eating out and a social gathering. That directly impacts many Businesses. From malls to restaurants, to social gathering events. The impact of COVID-19 isn’t merely on the economy, it’s on the mental health as well. The effects are far more unseen at the moment of uncertainty. Consumer behaviour is expected to be the most affected. There will be an obvious change in people’s lifestyle and spending behaviours. The most impacted are Food, Lifestyle, Luxury, and Travel. But like always we choose to see the positive side of the crisis. Founders must now be in “Bias for action” mode before they reach the end of the runway.
What Can the Startups do to stay in Business?
Go back to the drawing board. We have all had serious discussions about future plans and strategies. But when the future itself is ambiguous, those plans might not prove to be assertive. It’s time we go back to our drawing boards again and put our imaginative & innovative powers to work. Speak with more people and get inside their minds to understand how a customer is re-planning their spending behaviour.
Read the customer’s mind and re-strategise your service.
Can your product or service be more present specific than the future since the future is not certain as of today?
Work from home, a serious consideration?
One of the positive changes that COVID-19 has forced us to realise is that for many job types, work from home can be a serious alternate. Not only startups but larger corporations are considering this option more seriously than ever. It not only saves infrastructural cost but also has a positive environmental effect. A study by American researchers revealed that the most stressful part for people is traveling to work.
Word of caution: Work from home can have a serious mental effect on your employee if not trained properly. Mindfulness and the “Flow” practices are immensely critical before you let your stars work from home.
Can you keep your employees be equally focused even with a disparity in your original vision?
When you interviewed people for this role, they showed a tremendous passion for the vision and the role, that’s why you hired them, right? But what if you have to change your vision to stay afloat? More than trying to woo your customers with huge discounts and lucrative deals, think about your employees’ happiness & wellbeing too. If Founders and employees vow to stand with each other, customers will see the passion in your Company and will most likely stick with you.
Do you really need a fancy Office & Overlapped Roles?
Not all but some startups think of themselves as a miniature version of larger Corporations and end up hiring people in the same fashion. This action creates an overlap in their roles. Startups are as dynamic as the weather in the mountains. What they planned on Monday might not make sense on Friday. A startup needs jugglers. Go over the list of people and see who fits the bill right now. Did your data analyst, developers & other people deliver as efficiently from home as they did from office? Do they need to come to the office? Think again. You might fit in a much smaller office if you need one at all.
Explore online tools that may fill in for expensive business travel and face to face meetings without hampering productivity and revenue. Even your customers will understand the importance of essential social distancing. Larger corporations are encouraging their people to avoid unnecessary travel, we can do it too. Right?
Gearing up for the new Business opportunities
There is news everywhere that the world is looking at India to shift its manufacturing plants. Do you already have the infrastructure and manpower to claim the opportunity? Stay in touch with the government for bigger opportunities. You might want to showcase your resources to take on the next big manufacturing or logistic hub.
Does Your Startup Have Semi- Skilled Workforce?
Many Unicorns and established startups have already tapped the opportunities of the current situation. Food tech startups delivering essential goods, offering the same day, even offering delivery within an hour. Healthcare essentials like medicines, masks, blood tests, and other sorts of “need of the hour” services. It’s the hour of innovation. There is an acute need to work on fundamental issues that have arisen due to the pandemic. If you have a skilled workforce, can you build an online version of the solution? Can you offer online learning, a game, a Virtual meeting tool, an AI robot to support healthcare professionals, the possibilities are enormous? Because the virus didn’t just come alone, it brought the possibilities, can you tap them?
If you are a restaurant, can you offer live streaming of your customer’s food preparation?
Fintech, ed-tech, health tech, e-commerce, and many other types of startups are going to come out stronger and will continue to change the way we live. Startups will not see green cash books, they need to trim their operational costs and innovate in the face of adversity. We all need you to solve real-life problems.
Most Important – Mental Well-being Of Your Employees
Research data from a renowned American University proved that employees who are happy and mindful are more productive. Take care of your employee’s mental health and emotional intelligence. After all, hiring isn’t in your to-do list for months so you’re going to need to get more work done with the same number of people.
Before your roll up your sleeves, ensure you train your employee’s mind to survive the difficult times. What’s most important today is “Mental Health” Emotional Intelligence, and the power of resilience. If you keep them stronger, you will come out as a better person, you will do good for people and your country. Remember the moral obligation of People’s welfare. That’s why you founded your startup, isn’t it? (IANS)