Business survival guide in a time of Covid-19

We know these are uncertain times. We are facing a pandemic that has been impacting businesses, our daily lives, the economy and our loved ones. There is unpredictability and no instruction manual or playbook on how to deal with the ever changing situation.

It has been our priority at COYA Partners to work collaboratively with our extensive network of healthcare professionals and experts to provide you with informed guidance and navigation tools. We’re not only strategic consultants. We are also biophysicists, epidemiologists and lawyers. That’s why we think differently and we are able to understand and assess critical situations to provide you with tailored solutions that go beyond generic advice.

Our team has conducted its own analysis to understand how businesses can respond to the unanticipated twists and turns caused by Covid-19. Flexibility and adaptability is key when facing a health crisis with such a dynamic trajectory. It is time to throw out the old bureaucratic approval approach and revise internal coordination processes. Now is the time to respond swiftly - your business and customers depend on it. That’s why we have put together below the guideline below with questions and actions your business should consider now if it hasn’t already.

Set up a crisis task force - act quickly with short term measures and discuss broader changes to benefit from the rebound.

  • Empower your task force to make and implement decisions quickly.

  • Evaluate how the situation might evolve taking into account changes in official advice and regulations, and extract implications for your business and in particular for your supply chain, infrastructure, financials and customers.

  • Task force should be CEO-led to overcome complex internal approval processes.

  • Create a top-down framework within which your employees can innovate. This can be used for geographical regions with distinct dynamics and characteristics.

  • Meet daily, but virtually.

  • Reassess and reframe your action plans at every meeting on the basis of newly gathered information. Outcomes should be rapid and coordinated.

Protect and motivate your people - demonstrate strong leadership, have empathy, be agile and give your employees a strong sense of purpose.

  • Communicate clear and actionable policies and contextual rationale behind these policies to help your employees adopt new procedures and attitudes. Advice and initiatives should be decentralised and at a local level to make it relevant for all employees.

  • Encourage frequent virtual meetings for your employees to keep up morale. Virtual coffee breaks are a thing!

  • Avoid redundancies or furloughs by reallocating your employees to new activities, such as recovery planning for an effective rebound, upgrading existing products or developing new ones.

  • Provide timely, accurate and consistent information on changes in your business and Covid-19. Help your employees and customers make sense of a situation that is overwhelming and compounded by the plethora of media reports.

  • Offer flexible work plans, such as remote working, if possible, and arm your employees with everything needed to work at home efficiently (i.e., VPN, laptops, desktops, broadband availability, WFH policies).

  • Adjust on-site norms through staggered work shifts and implementing social/ physical distancing.

  • Continuously evaluate impact on employee performance and morale and address concerns rapidly by setting up new communication channels and reporting cycles where appropriate. Communication is key to keep up morale, performance and outcomes.

Revolutionise your customer engagement - uncover behavioural insights and map changes in engagement to determine when and how to communicate with customers.

  • Ideate how you can use social media, gamification and affiliate marketing to connect with existing and new customers.

  • Leverage different digital communication channels and social media platforms, including your employees’ social networks, to engage with customers and promote your products/services.

  • Create a leaderboard among your employees and/or customers to motivate participation in new initiatives.

Conduct financial and supply chain stress-tests - consider end-to-end immediate supply actions and financial planning in response to COVID-19.

  • Assess whether there is a need to offer new financial options and trade terms for your customers/partners (e.g., credit lines, adjusted pricing).

  • Review changing stock requirements and analyse available inventory.

  • Assess risks associated with suppliers/inventory/available resource capacity and prepare for likely changes (e.g., source alternate suppliers, accelerate customs clearance, change mode of transport, collaborate with other companies and public agencies).

  • Identify different financial scenarios and assess opportunity cost based on the latest epidemiology, economic and governmental outlook.

  • Conduct stress-tests for all financial scenarios and develop contingency plans.

  • Reallocate your employees to design resilient and digitised supply chains for the future.

Reflect on and improve your business model - assess how your business can adapt to have a greater impact on your customers for the long-term.

  • Assess behavioural, socio-economic, clinical and epidemiological data associated with COVID-19 to spot new trends and needs.

  • Re-think your business model to quickly integrate digital technologies that best address new customers needs. It is too early to know which customer behaviours will last, but it is likely that some behaviours will change for the long term.

  • Update your infrastructure by taking advantage of our digital world and consider what can be automated or transferred to digital platforms.

  • Evaluate how to reassign sales efforts away from brick and mortar to new digital channels.

  • Communicate with your customers and partners to understand their new points of pain and develop solutions to address their new long term needs.

  • Leverage community feedback and data-driven insights to develop new features, create value-add opportunities and diversify your product portfolio.

  • Consider new partnerships and symbiotic relationships at a local, regional or national level.

Find your community purpose - reflect and consider how your company can give back to the community and the economy.

  • Ideate how your products and services can contribute to society, especially people and communities that have been most affected.

  • Engage your team to find ways of supporting communities.

  • Be a leader in your sector and place value before business