Onward and upward should be the mantra for all entrepreneurs in the face of any crisis, and COVID-19 is no different.

How women entrepreneurs can look at COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity

The COVID-19 pandemic blindsided everybody, but now it’s time to come out of the shock and frustration and get your business back up. Facing crises like these is a part of being an entrepreneur, so dealing with them adequately is necessary if you wish to be a successful entrepreneur. 

As a woman entrepreneur, you have the advantage of being highly alert, resilient, and adaptable in the face of a crisis. You may have already accepted the reality for what it is and could be looking at ways to bounce back. Here are some things you can do to turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity. 

1. Set up a team for crisis management 

Navigating any crisis, including COVID-19, is a lot more manageable and effective when you have a dedicated crisis management team. This should include the heads or managers of various departments, and any other key employees. When you have a representative from each department such as accounting, marketing, sales, HR, etc. you get a quick and real perspective of the issues that each department is facing and the concerns each has. 

Your team of representatives will be able to help you come up with solutions and communicate the same to their respective departments. The members of this group should not be individuals who get provoked easily but instead be calm thinkers with great problem-solving skills.

Related: 5 Challenges faced by women entrepreneurs 

2. Plan for the short term

Having a long-term plan is prudent in normal circumstances, but when a crisis like COVID-19 hits, you have to give that up for the time being. A lot of women entrepreneurs make the mistake of coming up with a new long-term plan, but that’s going to end badly. Why? Because circumstances in a crisis change rapidly and any attempt at a long-term plan will prove to be unhelpful. 

Instead, you should be flexible and alert to deal with what comes your way. After all, each new day could come with its own surprises when the world is in crisis mode. Seeing the silver lining in such a situation is not something a lot of people can do, but if you try, you will be able to find some opportunities that you can make the best of even during times of crisis. 

3. Shift your business online 

This is something you must do on two fronts. If you are a B2C or B2B business but still don’t have an active online presence (such as a website and social media accounts), this is the right time to build your online presence. It will help your sales regain momentum. Today, online shopping is the way to go – not just because of or during COVID-19, but even otherwise. 

The second thing to do is embrace the new normal of online meetings with all stakeholders. You shouldn’t look at online meetings with your clients, vendors, etc. as a stopgap solution. Even when things go back to normal, you can continue with this online way of doing things. Now is the best time to get accustomed to it by setting processes in place and training your employees. 

Related: 10 Bank loan schemes for women entrepreneurs

4. Build a contingency fund

A majority of MSMEs had to shut shop because they didn’t have enough cash to tide them over even for the three months of the lockdown. The COVID-19 crisis has been an eye-opener for the entire world but more so for businesses. Having a contingency fund in place that is liquid is the need of the hour. Given the current uncertainty, nobody can predict how the next few months (or even years) are going to pan out.

Your contingency fund should be equal to the amount of money you need to run your business for X months and handle emergencies for Y months. The number of months is something you’ll have to decide with your accounting and finance team. Further, steer clear of using your contingency fund to invest in the stock market, which is currently very volatile, no matter how tempting it may seem. 

5. Engage in honest communication 

During a crisis like COVID-19, everybody is afraid and unsure. Within the organisation, your employees may be fearing pay cuts and job losses, so it’s essential that you use consistent and transparent communication to inform them what the financial and operational situation is like. When you do this, it’s important to convey the message that while the situation is unsteady, your priorities are clear. 

Related: Government schemes that can help women entrepreneurs in India grow their small businesses

Externally, communicating with your vendors about how you’re planning to pay them and asking for their support and understanding in return is a conversation that should be initiated by you. Communicating honestly with all your stakeholders will help everyone have some clarity, and help your business to continue functioning smoothly.

In addition to all of the above, it is crucial for you as a leader to maintain a calm and positive mindset. Only when your leadership is confident and clear can it reflect on the rest of your organisation. If you falter, others will lose hope entirely – and that can’t bode well for your business. This piece will come in handy if you are looking for tips for women entrepreneurs to fund their businesses.