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Tough times don’t last forever, but tough people do!

by Annamalai Suriamurthy
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In the Recipe for Revival series, Business Quest presents to you Shyam Sekar, a mentor, strategist and writer. He is the founder of Chennai-based Startup Xperts, a business growth and consulting company. Here he provides valuable tips to do business during difficult times.


Shyam Sekar, at the outset, is worried about the negativity surrounding us, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This negativity will not help in coming up with any constructive work, more so business, The media, he says, is full of negative news and entrepreneurs should shut out this negativity.

“As business owners, entrepreneurs, you will need to rise above the situation as your employees and the world around are looking forward to it.”

Businesses, during the testing times, should look at two choices: close down operations and save cost or pause and wait for things to change on their own. But either of the choices will kill the business. What is the way out? There is a third choice that can take the business to higher levels even in difficult times.

Powerful tips

He offers 10 powerful tips on what businesses can do now. “Do you recall how businesses emerged stronger after every big problem that the world had seen? Remember the dot com bubble in early 2000, the financial crisis during 2008-09 and the impact of it on India in 2012-13.  Look at the pandemic as yet another business opportunity.

“The first step towards revival is a discussion with business consultants/mentors to build solid business strategies and execution plans; revisit to see how it can be made smarter and better, if you already have done one recently. Next, do some research to understand the current market, customer, competition and trends.” The next and significant step is innovation.  Innovation is anything new that adds value to your customers and business. According to him, “doing things differently that makes better sense for business growth is innovation too.”

There should be innovation in sales and marketing strategy, product development, branding and packaging, building customer experiences, etc.

“This is the time to analyse and understand what went well and what did not work for your business.  Time to do a TDR (Tear-Down-Reengineer). You can look at training the customer teams wherever required to improve performance. Monitor the execution to identify gaps and areas of improvement. Find the right leadership material. Tough times will help identify the grains from the chaff as to who stands tall and go that extra mile for the benefit of the organisation and customers.

“On the operations front, spends that were unnecessary will now pop up in front of you; essential spends and investments will be looked at from a different perspective. This is the right time to bring in lean-startup principles. Most importantly, drive your strategic marketing initiatives.  Prepare your collaterals, marketing materials; practise your pitch and fine-tune your sales.

Brand recall

The time has come to create a brand recall. He feels that digital marketing for startups and businesses is a great way to showcase products and services. “You now have Google, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, which was not the case in previous recessions and tough times in the economy. So, time to take your brand digitally to your customers.” Mr. Shyam Sekar says that accelerated technology adoption is the key to survival.  Use Social Mobile Analytics and Cloud to enable your business to become better and smarter

“This is the time to invest in your business.”

Tough times don’t last forever, but tough people do!


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