Covid-19, the pandemic which is changing the face of global activities, is having world leaders and businesses thrown out of control – the crisis, highly taking a toll on a major aspect of life.
Governments are taking extreme measures to prevent the spread of the virus – including total lockdowns, shutting down major business operations and restricting citizen’s movement. These actions aren’t just affecting the daily lives of people, but businesses, unemployment rate and, global economies.
Ghana has so far recorded over 140 cases within 21 days of recording its first imported case. The impact has deeply been felt across the capital and some part of its regions. As of March 31, global businesses have recorded losses, small businesses shutdowns and recording millions of debts, which some global brands were not left.
The situation is different in Ghana – as a developing country with many economic challenges. As the virus is on the rise in many countries recording deaths and some few recoveries, Ghana’s economy is yet to realize the impact and take measures to avoid further spread of the virus.
The government announced precautionary restrictions including a restricted movement and closure of non-essential businesses within major towns in Accra and Kumasi. Now, the question is, amid the efforts of the government to control the spread of the virus to prevent a major disaster as other countries are experiencing, what is the actual state of impact on businesses and the economy largely? Are there any statistics to prove the extent of impacts or is it early to count the country’s losses?
How COVID-19 is changing the public perception of major local businesses
As COVID-19 began to reshape Ghanaian’s lives, some businesses responded with greed. Increasingly, the affected public is asking whether the change in value and prices are justified and if that will define their survival in the event of future drastic measures taking by the government to protect the country from the worse impact of the pandemic.
It may not be close at hand, but, now that lives are dominated by COVID-19, globally at large, customers are seeing many businesses as greedy exploiters of their vulnerability as behemoths who have taken the opportunity of the hostile-circumstances as profit generation.
For instance, over the weekend, a day after the government announced movement restrictions and a partial lockdown, prices of foodstuff doubled as Ghanaians rushed to various markets to purchase some items to help them to cope during the “stay home” order.
For now, the prevailing sentiment is accurate but businesses are yet to show positive response: what is not certain is if many more businesses would be joining in the “madness” of seizing the moment to double their profit margins – knowing they’re insusceptible to the global business crisis and as well not immune to the economic fallout. If there was ever a moment for these companies to prove their worth, it’s now.
Offering value – how essential this means to customers in the crisis
Creating value is what businesses are all about. There would be no business if people do not have needs – if the world is devoid of problems, but as the coronavirus crisis keep mounting, businesses have the responsibility of creating value and solution to meet customers’ needs.
The word ‘value’ in business means more in monetary terms than human satisfaction. Businesses measure value in cash and satisfaction as supplementary returns. The reason for many business failures today is because businesses are not giving value to their customers as it should be.
The primary aim of a business is not to make money but to solve human problems. In this age of business creativity and problem-solving what businesses focus now is making more money than providing value to the customers. If businesses solve problems and meet needs, the world would be better off but instead they are here to make money and more of it in the pandemic.
COVID-19 has revealed how many local businesses only focus is on how to make more money regardless of the given circumstance. Many vulnerable customers in the past weeks have served as a source of business revenue for businesses than it has to them. The secrets to getting value from the customer are not how much they can pay for products but the value solution businesses can offer them. Value to the customer has become a necessary question to ask businesses at this moment as the world battles the pandemic.
Angry customers are asking:
- What if businesses consider the customer as its most valuable asset during this pandemic and post covid-19 crisis?
- What if businesses look at the crisis as a means of showing customers what they mean to their business than exploiting them?
- What if businesses provided supplementary services in addition to existing services to support customers through the crisis?
- What if, customers are offered standard prices at a reduced cost to thank them for consistent loyalty and as a means of solidarity?
Still, even businesses perfect response to the COVID-19 crisis could likely plant the seeds for a future backlash – this is the make-or-break moment for businesses to prioritize their customers.
Has COVID-19 genuinely impacted local businesses or they are just counting early losses?
It is too early to determine to what extent local businesses have been affected by the pandemic. It’s no secret the impact on some sectors and the hospitality industry like hotels, manufacturers, the retail sector and a few essential business sectors.
The closure of most non-essential businesses, admittedly, will experience some setbacks and losses due to inoperativeness – most businesses can still strive to some extent resorting to online or digital services. Hotels with restaurants can creatively cut down some losses by providing their restaurant’s services via delivery systems for standing clients and other customers without totally shutting down and calling for stimulus packages.
Government promises stimulus package for businesses
The government, on responding to taking proactive actions towards supporting businesses, particularly, small business and medium enterprises that are likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis – announced a stimulus package of GH¢1 billion.
The stimulus package could include tax incentives for small business enterprises and even tax deferrals for affected sectors. Now, the pandemic is shutting down major economic boosters locally and internationally, inevitably leading to a global recession – an imminent recession which economic experts have predicted in the second quarter – for businesses and governments to recover from the level of economic damage the pandemic will cause, will extremely depend on the response by policymakers and businesses initiating early strategic planning.
Who gets what and how do affected businesses get what they deserve?
It has been evident from the word go, the impacts COVID-19 will have on the economy, businesses, employment rates, and individual citizens – taking cues from highly affected countries like China, Italy, the US, and Iran.
The key point is, how will the government measure and determine the damage level of affected businesses to give them the deserving stimulus? It has always been the case of misappropriation of funds in situations like this, accountability is challenged – where the actual businesses and people who should receive these packages would miss it and end up in the pockets of politicians. How will the governments assure the affected businesses of receiving these packages without a doubt? The questions are endless and the doubt of an equal distribution of packages reaching these businesses?
Some critical decisions businesses need to focus on now
The crisis can’t be averted, but businesses can begin to prepare for post-pandemic impacts. Here are a few points for businesses, especially the small business sector to note.
- Post survival strategy – how does the business rebuild from its losses?
- Total new direction – highly for small businesses that may suffer a fallout.
- Winning back lost and customers
- Plan towards fierce competition as new businesses and entrepreneurs will sprout with very innovation business solutions
- New/creative marketing and sales strategies
>>>The writer is the CEO of Commec Group, a business development consultancy. She is a multiple award winning Business Development Consultant and a Writer. For business and engagements: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.commec.group