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Businesses can learn from the global spread of COVID-19

4-minute read

COVID-19 is teaching us that no matter how prepared we think we are, it might not be business as usual.

Businesses remain exposed and vulnerable. As a result, you can assess the resilience of your businesses and be better prepared for any disruptions to deal with the global spread of the coronavirus.

You could be faced with finding alternatives in your supply chain, updating emergency or continuity plans, and making employees aware of what’s needed if the situation is no longer considered normal.

Here are key questions to consider as a result of the COVID-19:

1. What are the top issues for Canadian entrepreneurs?

Supply chain impact may be one of the most difficult issues to manage. Establish direct and consistent contact with key suppliers to assess the probability of disruptions and what emergency plans they have. Consider supply chain alternatives. A shift in demand may require a shift in inventory and/or stock which will need to be managed.

Delivery. If you can’t deliver your products or services to your customers, the level of trust in your business can be impacted. When you surpass expectations, even in a crisis, your brand value increases.

Broad behavioral changes due to fear or mandated changes such as travel restrictions will require entrepreneurs to potentially reposition their products or delivery channels as well as prepare for volatility.

2. How does this affect my employees?

Make sure your employees know about your continuity or emergency plans and have digital access to them. They need to know what is expected of them to keep your business running.

Your employees also need to be able to work remotely to mitigate risk. Give them the tools and equipment they need. This could also apply to the flu season. In some businesses this is, of course, not always possible. Ensure an open dialogue with your employees and work with them to ensure safety and conscientiousness.

Restrict travel to mitigate risk, if necessary.

BDC has detailed business continuity plans, contingency plans and incident playbooks. We execute annual testing, scenario analyses and stress testing. The level of preparation for every entrepreneur doesn’t have to be at the same, but every business needs to consider contingency planning and recovery strategies.

Set an example and encourage employees to practice good hygiene at work, such as frequent hand washing, avoiding touching your face, staying at home if sick, coughing and sneezing into your arm, not your hand.

3. How does COVID-19 present an opportunity to be better prepared?

Regardless of its scope, COVID-19 presents entrepreneurs with the opportunity to test their continuity plans and state of resilience to keep businesses running. You may not be as prepared as you think you are and, as a result, you can identify and fix any gaps.

The SARS outbreak in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009 and other crises have helped businesses rise to meet the challenges, resulting in investments in technology, enhanced procedures and practices, and improved communication protocols.

Crises will occur. You cannot plan for everything, but you can be ready for what you can tangibly consider in advance.

4. Is there any way to insulate Canadian businesses from a global event?

We all are more interconnected: Locally, nationally, and globally. While this can provide huge opportunities, this comes with other challenges and risks.

You can take steps to lessen exposure.

Diversify where you sell in terms of regions, markets and customers to reduce concentration risks and provide opportunities to expand your reach. Nevertheless, even if you have a global footprint, always remember your local footprint to sell your products and services

Consider a variety of options to deliver your products and services, such as online. Evaluate alternative sourcing options in your supply chain to avoid disruption.

Bottom Line: However the COVID-19 evolves, businesses must be ready to adapt and address the challenges that are presented. Planning, either before or during the crisis, accompanied with transparent and effective communication with employees and clients will promote a safe and functional environment to support operational resilience.

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