The infamous Novel Corona-Virus (now officially named by W.H.O. as “COVID-19”) has been grabbing headlines the past few weeks. There is a lot of uncertainty as we don’t know the exact nature of the virus yet. We don’t know how long it will take for a vaccine to be found or whether it will disappear by itself just like SARS did.
In addition to affecting the bodies of the infected, it is also affecting businesses and the economic outlook in general. Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) just reported on 17 Feb that GDP growth was “expected to come in at around 0.5 percent, the mid-point of a new estimated range of between -0.5 percent and 1.5 percent,” according to a Channel News Asia article.
How can businesses weather this storm? One of the ways is to put together a Business Continuity Plan. Associations such as the Singapore Business Federation has done a fantastic job of providing very informative documentation related to this area.
In addition, the attitude of the people running businesses (especially the business leaders) will make a great difference too. The following five traits C-O-V-I-D can be instrumental for surviving this virus outbreak and bring businesses to greater growth.
In these times of uncertainties, do you choose to live in fear? Do you allow yourself to be overwhelmed with fear such that you don’t dare to do anything? You would, of course, need to take necessary precautions (e.g. taking the temperature of staff daily, having a hygienic office environment), but don’t let yourself be paralyzed by fear. Have the courage to go on. Have the courage to try out things that you might not have tried in the “normal” days, such as befriending a “digital co-worker” such as Gleematic. It can potentially help you get work done when your human colleagues might have gone on medical leave.
We can take a “doomsday” attitude or “this too shall pass” attitude. Psychologists and those who study the human mind will agree that what you think will become your reality. A Forbes article by a psychotherapist outlines how your self-talk becomes your self-fulfilling prophecy and how you can change your destiny by just changing the way you think. So, be optimistic. Think positive thoughts and see the half-full glass.
This is the trait of being open and truthful. This is very important for political leaders and business leaders alike. For example, it appears that the people in Singapore generally trust that the government is sharing information adequately. After Singapore’s political leaders called for calm and reassured residents that the island’s supply chains remain intact, we have not seen continued panic-buying of daily essentials. This is unlike the situation in Hong Kong where the coronavirus panic shows no signs of easing as some people are resorting to violence to rob large quantities of toilet paper. This is despite the assurance from government officials in Hong Kong who have said there is no need to stockpile.
Likewise, for business leaders, it is important to be open about the situation of the business without overly burdening the colleagues with the details of the challenges. It is a fine line that business leaders have to thread and it is their duty to keep up the morale of the team through openness and honesty.
New situations call for new measures. Product innovation may be a longer-term consideration, but it is worth considering. You might want to think about how would your product/offering be more attractive or easier to use or deploy?
Process innovations may be faster to implement. Now that large-scale exhibitions are postponed or cancelled, where can we go to meet new prospects? We just have to look for new innovative ways to counter that. For example, you can consider holding webinars, or have smaller-scale training sessions to reach out to prospects. Alternatively, you can ramp up your online marketing to have more outreach. Or look into online conferencing tools to do sales pitches.
Nothing comes easy, and it will be a long road to “business as usual” for some industry sectors. There might be some casualties along the way as well. But we believe that if business leaders can embrace the traits here, you just have to keep going with grit and determination to bring your business to new heights.
Written by: Ada Lim