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Crisis Help Desk

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How can we reach out to food business operators in TN and across the country?

Through industry bodies like NRAI. There should be other local chapters as well

How can we reach out to start-ups and SMEs requiring our services - product and system certification ?

  1. Through TiE and similar organizations.
  2. Start with one cluster . The concerned government office in any industrial estate has the details of the units operating there. From there you can choose the first list for contacting potential customers

"I have a challenge, allowing staff to work from home. How can I ensure that my programmer does not copy or download the code locally and misuse the same. How companies like Accenture, TCS are doing this?"

First step is to ensure you have a signed employment agreement that protects the intellectual property. This is the biggest deterrent. If you don’t have this, you need to get it done urgently.   This has to be done even during normal times.  This will.solve the issue 90%. You need an IT Security process which deals with this. You can disable the USB ports, CD etc. You can prevent the software from being emailed. You can find out ways of achieving this and one time tested method is using Citirx or AWS workspace.

How to improve the productivity of the staff working from home?

  1. Huddle over zoom or skype twice a day – mornings and evenings 
  2. Assign task for the day and measure output  at the end of the day.  Move from process driven method to Outcome based method.
  3. There is bound to be some slippages , Don’t worry! Allocate specific tasks which need to be completed on a day and review.  Employees would also have to be spoken and counselled about WFH. Etiquettes have to be laid out and followed by all, for this to be a success.

How do I sustain my business in this current situation?

Hold on the cash and keep your expenses frugal

How to get abroad clients for online coaching?

If you are talking about western markets, be careful with your online marketing, they are under tremendous stress and anxiety right now. First just show your brand and that you care genuinely. Marketing / Sales can be done later.

How do i cut my cost? If one employee is not productive and does not contribute to the organization in a time of crisis, is it ok to downsize my team?

It is perfect to downsize anytime and especially during this time. However, you need to make it part of the overall business plan and not isolated. And, define a clear process by which you will decide who to fire. Obviously, performance, relevance to market etc are top criteria.
And, when you do that, do it with empathy. Check on productivity must be there always.

I am in the computer hardware business. I was dependent on China. With the current situation it is impossible to import from China. Because of the demand and supply gap i'm able to buy only 1 product where I used to buy 5 earlier. what should i do?

  1.  Might actually be a good time to focus on that part of your inventory that has not been moving and convert into cash even if you incur a loss . During good times we normally tend to ignore that part and sell what is selling. Now may be a good time to find customers for these and start liquidation. We are doing that and it is helping in cash flow during these not so great times.
  2.  Keep doing your best. Share with your customers transparently, communicate, in fact over communicate (without annoying them) and be seen that genuinely you are trying to help, offer alternatives. China is slowly limping back to normal, so may find things improving on that front.

My business does not support work from home. cannot afford to give my employees off. I understand my employees are important, what do I do?

  1. Create a hygienic environment, talk more to your employees and implement a strict rule to deal with sick people. Enhance insurance and offer some incentives.
  2. Not every business supports work from home . But having a full office every day also costs in terms of costs like electricity, Chai , Food , housekeeping etc . So one way is to cut down on the number of days per week to 3-4 depending on business needs and increase hours on those days by an hour or two . This should help in a level of cost control during these times You need to ensure social distancing during this period by staggering the work timings so that u ensure safety precautions. Those who use public transport should be asked to stay at home.

Is this the right time for me to identify new segments?

Yes. When there is less operational load then is the time to look at what else can be done.. The most important role is to conserve cash

Managing working capital has turned out to be a huge challenge. Are there any different ways of doing this?

  1. Make a clear budget and arrive at working capital requirements
  2. Multiple sources are available at present,
    1. NBFcs
    2. Business loans
    3. Personal loans
    4. Tie up with vendors

        the correct answers can be linked once we know the correct position of the company

I recognize that raw material can be purchased at a lower cost but due to the current situation i'm not very sure when the customer buying pattern will improve. is it prudent for me to procure raw materials and save it for future?

Not unless you have the capacity to hold . Our take is retain cash and flexibility.

With work from home culture & downturn of businesses I feel very dejected & depressed as an entrepreneur, how do i handle it & keep myself up float. Should i share this situation with my family?

Please share the concerns with all your family. Let them be aware where we are all heading. This is a passing phase. Be optimistic and don’t lose your hope. After all, you are an entrepreneur and need to invest in self-motivating exercises. Use this time to improve your health both physical and mental.  Take a coach who can be your sounding board

Is this the right time to seek investments. What will investors look from an entrepreneur?

This is a period of uncertainty and investors won’t bite. Better use this period to build resilience in the Company/Business which will stand by you and will confidence to the Investors who will be looking for opportunities to invest. Investors look how you fared during times of crisis and not during happy times.Those  investors who look at opportunities during these times are bottlefishing, Looking for very low values.

If I find an opportunity, is this the right time to launch a business? What are the things I need to take care of?

This is not time to launch any new business. We are in uncertain times. Maybe after June 2020 you can plan. We are in for the long haul as the Coronavirus situation will pan out by that time, hopefully.