TMCnet Feature
May 26, 2020

Donald Solow on the Difficulties Businesses are Facing During the Current Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the economy, especially for businesses. Small and medium sized businesses especially are struggling to adapt to their new reality.

Donald Solow of Madison, New Jersey, President of Vista Life & Casualty Reinsurance Company, has seen the effect that COVID-19 has had on businesses firsthand. He shares the top three challenges currently facing businesses due to the pandemic.

Existing Business Plan is Insufficient

The first challenge businesses are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic is dealing with an insufficient business plan, shares Donald Solow. Business continuity plans are essential when running a business, but almost no company could have prepared for this.

Due to the unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, many of these businesses have been thrown for a loop. Thus, the first challenge they face in overcoming this trying time is to adapt and update their business plans. It is to be expected that pre-existing continuity plans would not have included a portion dedicated to a global health crisis causing you to shut your doors temporarily. However, now is the time to step up and change your plan as rapidly as possible in order to get through the crisis.

Donald Solow recommends developing incident management and scenario plans that are specific to the COVID-19 crisis. Next, plan on how you can effectively communicate to stakeholders what is going on with your company (if applicable). Finally come up with a plan of action that meets government-set guidelines, but also causes the least disruption to your business.

Transitioning to a Remote Workplace

The second biggest challenge many businesses are facing is transitioning to a remote workplace. Offices around the world have shut their doors, forcing many companies to transform their workforce into a completely virtual team. Many businesses did not have employees working from home before this, so it has likely been an especially trying time for them. However, even for companies that did allow their employees to occasionally work from home, this is still uncharted territory.

Apps like Zoom are springing up in popularity as they enable companies to communicate effectively from remote locations. But unfortunately, downloading and training staff to use a certain app doesn’t solve many of the problems that companies continue to face. When it comes to transitioning to a remote workplace, Donald Solow advises all employers to first think long and hard about what it’s going to take to get their company functioning virtually.

For some that are ill-equipped to handle transitioning their workforce, the best decision might be to temporarily lay off workers. For others that decide to move forward with this workplace transformation, a good first step is ensuring your staff have everything they need (laptops, etc.) to work effectively from home. Beyond that, employers should also be speaking with HR to come up with new policies relating to remote working.

Donald Solow on Disruptions to the Supply Chain

Another large challenge businesses are facing due to the current pandemic is a disruption to supply chains. There is no denying that we live in an era of globalization where the products that companies sell come to fruition because of different parts or processes that involve other countries. For example, a restaurant in New York City may receive ingredients from China, Italy, and beyond. For businesses that have had their supply chains affected, it’s important to do everything in your power to mitigate these disruptions.

First, Donald Solow recommends identifying alternative supply chain sources in your local area. Reducing the distance an item must travel is crucial right now. That is why you should consider what items you need that can be sourced domestically, or even from the city or county in which you live. Second, adapt your pricing strategy. Often items or labor outsourced to other countries is cheaper, allowing companies to sell items for cheaper in countries like the U.S. However, right now, if you have to switch to a local supply chain, your costs might go up. Thus, if necessary, you should be adjusting your pricing strategy so that you still make a decent profit even with this new supply chain.

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