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Resilience is key to create sustainable and scalable businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught businesses to be resilient and adapt in real-time to sustain. During the crisis, businesses have used digital transformation and automation to pivot and supercharge their business models.
By Ratna Mehta and Nisarg Thakkar


The Indian business ecosystem has evolved post-independence – major changes were due to the 1991 liberalisation, tech boom of the early 2000s, the global financial crisis in 2008, and more recently the wave of PE / VC funding into the country. However, with the pandemic, businesses need to understand that ‘today is not the same as yesterday’, with a need to start visualising and adapting to the new normal.

In such challenging times, the strength of businesses is tested and the rule books need to be opened to see what can be adopted to make businesses more resilient, responsible, and sustainable.

Key requirements for building a resilient business

While change is the only constant, the following key aspects need to be kept in mind to build successful and resilient businesses.

Constant reinvention

Adversity is the mother of opportunities and tough times are our best teachers. It is at such times we need to constantly reinvent ourselves to stay relevant and thrive.

Customer is always the King

What value do you create from your business for the customer and the society at large? This is the most pertinent question to answer – making yourself relevant to the changing needs of the customer, being empathetic during tough times, and making the customer feel special.

Your backbone is your team

Taking care of employees has a huge payoff. Also, developing the right talent pool and retaining them is key. An open environment must be created for the team to flourish. Because what separates you out from the competition is the intangible, unmeasurable support from your team.

Carving your niche in the crowded space or building your own blue ocean

While competition eventually catches up, the best businesses steer away from competition to create a larger value from new and visionary products and services which differentiate you from the rest of the crowd.

Spread your tentacles and analyse the next change in the environment

Intuition, visualisation, and picking up early signs of change are very critical to be future-ready.

When organisation invests in visionary products and services keeping in mind long term trends, that is where they create resilient and valuable businesses.

Learnings from businesses that adapted to the new normal

Restaurants and tea/coffee cafes have been most impacted by the pandemic. While the USP was converting conversations over tea/coffee/meal into an experience, they are fighting the pandemic with product innovation and leveraging digital platforms for marketing, ordering, and logistics to create an unparallel customer experience.

Constant innovation, i.e. the ability to roll out new initiatives and products relatively quickly, is a considerable competitive strength. Digitising menus, increasing online payment options, reducing wait times at stores, store operation SOPs, customising menus for quick pick up/drive-through, and home delivery are some of the responses, which have helped these players pivot and survive/thrive.

Another sector that was deeply impacted due to the pandemic was fitness/wellness. With high-stress lifestyles, in the last few years, we had seen several fitness and wellness business mushroom. However, the pandemic came in as a rude shock to these businesses which had just started gaining traction.

With the pandemic and lockdown, all their physical centres of fitness/yoga studios and gyms were forced to shut down, but this did not deter them from pivoting to online and expanding their reach.

Cashing in on the online trend, they pivoted to digital with live classes for most of their offerings bundled with pre-recorded sessions, which helped them penetrate into Tier II and Tier III cities like never before. They used the customer-first approach and introduced online features which addressed issues around engagement, motivation, convenience, and affordability issue for customers.

The companies, which quickly pivoted to digital, came out stronger and have grown, expanding their customer base not only in India but have also managed to reach overseas markets.

Manufacturing businesses have adopted very strict SOPs for operations – shifts, social distancing, sanitisation, etc. Most of them are planning to diversify operations to multiple locations in the long to mid-term. Increased automation is another trend that is likely to accelerate as a fallout of the pandemic.

Digitisation was picking up in almost all sectors – ecommerce, healthtech, edtech, food delivery, and many more. However, the current situation has given a massive boost to digital platforms by increasing awareness and acceptability.

Summing up, in this ever-changing world, pivots become very essential to stay in the game. The success of the pivot depends on the alignment of the business with long-term trends created or intensified by the change. This is fundamental to create a sustainable path to profitability, complement the firm’s existing capabilities and strengthen its core strategic assets.

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