The COVID-19 pandemic has spread all over the globe like wildfire and entrepreneurs along with their business are facing a never seen before challenge. While discovering the real impact of COVID-19 in a global business scenario, statistics indicate that over 70 percent of startups were compelled to terminate their employees since the outbreak. Also, many enterprises have moulded their strategies to meet the demands of goods and services required for the crisis. What's important is that the different models and approaches adopted by the companies are likely to have a long term impact on how these enterprises and businesses will be perceived in the coming years.
Though the major share of entrepreneurs have suffered in this crisis, this deadly virus has also led to a higher rate of entrepreneurship activity. Companies as well as individuals have rallied and responded to mitigate the crisis wherever possible. In this situation, the role of government deserves special mention. For instance, how Franklin D. Roosevelt had tackled the great depression to roll out the situation so that America stands on its feet again is one of them. Governments of almost all countries are aiding small businesses to improve innovation.
The Crisis and the Opportunities for Growth
Some entrepreneurs have been able to seize the day during this pandemic by restructuring their business as per their knowledge, workforce, skills and most importantly, networks to cater to the new needs that have emerged. But it's worthy of mention here that repurposing and redirecting business is not without any challenge.
With diverse backgrounds, these businesses come from different knowledge domains which creates a problem for the partners and stakeholders. Though new businesses and startups may consider this restructuring as a short term solution, the growth opportunity and survival strategy for the economy of many countries often rest in it. As a result, to reap the benefits of this circumstance, governments along with other such authoritative bodies develop various kinds of measures to stand by these entrepreneurs. For example, public procurement helps new businesses to build up a reputation over time so that they can be seen as legitimate business partners in the near future.
The Altering Face of Entrepreneurship
The changes that the world is observing today can have a two-way impact. Some might argue that it has deemed entrepreneurship as a risky affair which in turn, may stop these startups from encountering real talent. On the contrary, some may believe that the altered perception of entrepreneurship could be beneficial in the long term.
The pattern over the years was directed influenced by high technology orientation as well as a geographically fertile environment for setting up the business. It's undeniable that the success of the companies is very crucial for our society and economy but on the flip side, entrepreneurship is often seen as the game of a chosen few who possess the right knowledge and funding to carry on and parlay with the big players in the field.
Preparing to Face the Challenges
Investors are not sure whether they can see the economy unharmed with the new waves of coronavirus spread. Some opine that the actions taken by the government may not be enough for checking erosion of wealth and the declining stock markets in the global market testifies this fact. Oil prices have reduced so drastically that in the US, it came down to negative for the first time ever.
Several factors allow me to think this pandemic is putting the emerging economies like India in a situation where its effects cannot be predicted beforehand, thanks to the various types of external and internal shocks. There is also a tightened mindset of the consumers and this is definitely influencing the economy. Also, in some areas, it is creating a chain of new scope for growth. For businesses to come out of this bottleneck position, creativity in decision making coupled with adaptability can play a key role.
As it goes with the SARS 2003 that altered the face of e-commerce at a global level, the COVID-19 pandemic will also give us a chance to adopt a renewed outlook on various industries and bring about new products and services such as face recognition and blockchain among others.
Some industries that, according to me, may look appealing under the light of the current pandemic include:
- No touch digital payment options
- Smartphone-based e-commerce sites
- CRM Software system
- Automation and chatbots and industries around it
- Home delivery services of various kinds
- Content media streaming apps
- Digital and virtual marketing
- Online medical consultation and medicine delivery apps
- Services based on hygiene maintenance
- Online education platforms
- Virtual conference and meeting apps
- Self-care and fitness industries
- Artificial intelligence
- Machine learning
- Data analytics
- Simplification of buying an insurance policy
According to Ratan Tata, a stalwart in the business industry thinks that entrepreneurs in the country can find ways of operating in the post covid era. It is a wonderful opportunity for new startups to come up with innovative ideas for thriving in the face of the crisis.
India and its Opportunities
India has always been regarded as the goldmine when it comes to the scopes and opportunities for businesses. And the best part is that these factors will keep in playing an important part even when the pandemic is over. Some points that deserve a special mention include:
- India has the second-highest population in the world with a growth rate of 1 percent.
- Over 50 percent of the total population of the nation is below 25 years and 65 percent is below 35. The average age of Indians in 2020 is 29 years approximately
- Fast internet penetration along with cheap data rates
- India has 2nd largest smartphone population in the world with 600 million people roughly accessing the internet
- Steady improvement of government and institutional support along with l riding corporate participation
- Literacy rate has crossed 75 percent and the maximum population speaks English
- India has a substantial economy with commendable international trade
Many countries have announced relief packages for ease of running their business and meet other needs. In India as well, the government has launched a program titled Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan for motivating medium, small and micro-businesses for developing self-reliance. Many international institutions forecast that the GDP rate of the country shall touch zero at any point of time. But by taking a look at the various positive factors, this economy is sure to bounce back in full swing.
The government of India has also restructured the medium, small and micro industries which have shoved them in the same platform as the manufacturing and service sectors. Businesses below 1 crore investment fall under the category of micro-units, companies with an investment of less than 10 crores and annual turnover 50 crores would be classified as small industries and that with 20 crores investment and a turnover of 100 crores will be considered medium enterprises. The main reason why this change has been incorporated is to cover most business organizations.
The government has also launched various schemes should the enterprises face ant kind of financial crunch and some of these include:
1. Startup India Scheme
There are a number of schemes for marketing, funding and grants available both in debt and equity mode. Compliance relaxations are also available as well as mentoring avenues.
2. COVID-19 Emergency Credit Line
Government-owned lender State Bank of India is offering a maximum loan amount of 200 crores which can be availed in emergency situations. It is specifically aimed at MSME enterprises and the loan is given at a rate of 7.25 percent. Also, SBI is working on relaxed calculations for working capital requirements.
3. Rs. 50,000 Crore Fund of Funds
The government has also launched a provision for creating a fund of funds where eligible MSME can access equity infusion for improving their business capacity.
4. Clearing MSME Dues
The central public sector enterprises along with the government are releasing all the pending MSME payments in 45 days. Also, the facility of invoice and discounting of bills have been incorporated through public-private partnership especially for the MSME businesses.
The question that is posed to us at present is how it is going to influence us as we move forward and what can be done to ensure that we are traversing in the right direction. With so many big players in the market shedding off their valuable employees, I can assume that many will be encouraged to weigh the risks and opportunities associated with entrepreneurship. With the government aiding at every step, the gaps in the national business scheme can certainly be filled very soon.