Don’t Wait For Coronavirus To Disappear. Adapt Instead

For many of us, the global pandemic was a bolt out of the blue. What started as a small story in Wuhan blew up into something that completely changed all of our lives. A major pandemic hasn’t engulfed the West for over a century. But you can bet your bottom dollar that things won’t remain static. We will adapt, change how we do business, and pull through. The world won’t be the same as before, but that could be a good thing. 

 

Look At What Asian Businesses Do

The coronavirus isn’t the first epidemic to hit the Far East in recent years. First, we had SARS. Then, along came swine flu and bird flu. After that, we got MERS, and there were a host of other potentially deadly outbreaks on farms. Businesses in affected regions began to adjust their risk management strategies. It was clear that a pandemic was on the way, but they weren’t quite sure when. All of these other outbreaks were, fortunately, curtailed before they could do systemic damage. But it was only a matter of time before a virus got out and spread like wildfire among the densely populated urbanites. 

Well before the current crisis, companies were making changes. If you look at the amount of cash that Asian businesses have on hand compared to their Western rivals, it is much higher. In Japan, net cash is actually higher than net debt, which is remarkable. Levels of cash are also similarly high in China at around 43 percent of liabilities. 

The UK, by contrast, is down at about 17 percent, which is scary. And some markets, like Spain, don’t even hit 10 percent. Net debt is overwhelming. 

Companies, therefore, need to start thinking seriously about adapting their business models. The era of leveraging and high debt has to come to an end. Firms need cash to keep a skeleton operation going just in case another great plague hits them. 

 

Create Safer Workplaces

 

 

The next step will be to make workplaces safer for colleagues and customers. The idea that we could go back to cramming people into stores and offices seems unwise. Lack of social distancing could lead to a resurgence of cases and deaths and lead to a second, damaging shutdown. 

Companies are already trialing all kinds of measures to fight the virus and keep people safe. The hotel industry, for instance, says that it will introduce temperature scanning devices in lobbies. Retailers are using social distancing floor stickers. And offices are making hand sanitizer publicly available to reduce the risks associated with workers touching their faces. 

 

Shifting Production

Some business models just don’t work under social distancing or in a culture where people are afraid to meet together. In those circumstances, you need to shift for production. 

For some companies, this will be easy. Food artisans can start offering delivery. For others, like hairdressers, it’s more complicated. 

The critical point here is this: don’t give up. There are always opportunities. It’s just a matter of finding them and capitalizing. 

 

 

 

 

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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