Sumeet has over 21+ years of experience in several world geographies and multiple business segments. In his last senior leadership role as the CIO Asia for a Fortune 100 agriculture conglomerate, Sumeet was responsible for driving the company’s global IT vision across Asia.
Worry, fear and anxiety are prevalent everywhere with the pandemic and more so in the start-up’s scenario. Funding, new leads and scaling are becoming a nightmare for most of them. The pandemic has caused widespread fury, and no one has been spared. Does it mean doom and all gloom for the start-up industry? Certainly not for everyone.
If an individual can sustain this, survive, and thrive with newfound opportunities and create a new chapter in life, this should be no different for a start-up organization. Just like maintaining the health of body and mind is vital for an individual, it is so true for an organization on its journey to success, especially at these times when the challenges are at their peak. Overcoming them should not be a daunting task. However, it certainly has to be a well thought through, planned and executed one, not to be left aside for chance or hope.
There are five predominant areas I would like to touch upon, where the right amounts of focus, energy and efforts will result in carving a niche in their respective domain or industry and thus the start-up would be the most sought after one.
1. Focus on Health
Everything starts with the ability to perform, in simple terms “HEALTH”. When we talk about the health of an organization, we are looking at its financial health, health of its members and employees too. Without which, the best plans to execute will fall flat. By this what I mean is that understanding the limits and potential and work towards strengthening the weak points, keeping a bird’s eye view on the overall situation, and seeking out support immediately.
Prevention of symptoms or identifying them at the initial stages is of paramount importance. Education and awareness of safety measures to be taken, following the social distancing norms, maintaining hygiene even if required to work from designated work areas if the industry that the organization is operating in, warrants for, helps prevent and curb the spread of the pandemic.
Focusing on emotional well-being too is very important. Now that most of the employees are working remotely, and may no longer have the chance to catch up with their colleagues over the coffee machine or water filters. Supporting them with regular online fun engagements helps maintain their well-being and reduces work-related stress.
2. Family – Priority not only in times of COVID-19, but always
Employees may be working remotely; however, they may not be able to work at the same time blocks as they would have in a typical scenario at the workplace. When organizations understand that a meeting cannot be noise-free because their members no longer are seated together in a plush conference room complete with noise-cancelling upholstery, and are amongst their family members sharing the same space. Display the understanding that background noise is ok and not a punishable offence or a crime that has been committed. It helps the team feel less stressed and concentrate more on the task at hand. These things may seem very simple, but when practised meaningfully, seals the trust between their employees and their family members, who don’t feel shunned out totally by them.
Sometimes small kids peep into video conferences and come on screen out of curiosity to know what is going on, for them, it may seem like a television screen with characters on it, they may not know the gravity of the discussion going on, letting your team know that such instances are ok, waving out to the little one, makes everyone feel welcome, 2 minutes of extended meeting hasn’t harmed anyone, but yes being indifferent can cause considerable irreversible damage especially when teams are small and the organization is in a very nascent stage.
3. Employees – The Treasure Chest of the Company
Understanding that the roles of each family members have been altered too, with no extra help for domestic chores, child care, elderly care and so on. The women employees especially are burdened more and with limited or no choice of takeaways from restaurants, cooking every meal is no longer a choice, it’s a necessity. When organizations understand these changed roles and the key stakeholders emulate this sensitivity in their behaviour and discussions, it flows down through every employee, making them feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts beyond workspace, and helps in their mental well-being.
It doesn’t mean that the male employees do not have additional chores, there may be many staying alone in the city, and not knowing how to cook themselves a meal, being sensitive to their feelings also drives in more compassion.
By and large, when employees see this treasure trove of affection and concern, they feel working at that organization is the best decision they could have made, and will do their best to support the organization tide through these difficult times.
This brings about a feeling of togetherness and fosters a healthy, thriving attitude amongst all the team members.
4. Customers – Understand their Current Needs
The start-up may take pride in its array of products of services, a niche segment it could be catering to, however not all or some of their products and services may be relevant in today’s times. Therefore, understanding what your customer is going through, realizing a challenge they are facing and helping them with a new customized service will make them your loyal and raving customer. IF for some reason you may not be able to solve a problem with what you have to offer, however you know of someone who can help them, go ahead and connect them both. It’s not always business. When you develop true and meaningful relationships with your customers, they no longer are a customer. You begin to see each other as a partner, and when they meet someone who is looking for a product or service you offer, they will send them your way. Ways of doing business have to be relooked at, from a human angle and perspective if not yet already. Some start-ups’ have already jumped onto the market with new and customized offerings for their customers, and their loyal customers have no qualms in referring others to them. This will be the new normal, and the sooner an organization understands and adapts, the faster they are on route to success.
5. Leads – New Business
Now is not the time to be complacent or play safe. Go out and showcase your product or service to as many as possible before you call it a day. Facing rejections or delays should not stop you from chasing new leads. The more you focus on delivering value and creating awareness around your brand, leads will automatically move through stages of your funnel and by the time you realize, both of you will be doing business together. Maintaining a positive outlook despite the economic situations and conditions, focussing on what you bring to the table, taking cues from the market and developing new products is all it requires to sum up a winning game.
More About Sumeet Srivastava
Under Sumeet’s leadership, an IT team was able to create a complete mobile based Rural Marketing business, touching lives of millions of farmers across the developing world. The free service was able to provide relevant services and results which had a profound impact on lives of smallholder farmers. In Sumeet’s’ career, he has continuously demonstrated how businesses can leverage focus areas such as Cloud, Mobile Technology, Analytics to create a distinct competitive advantage in Core Sector businesses.
With nearly two decades of varied experience in strategic roles and leading IT projects, Sumeet was previously associated with companies such as GE, ST Microelectronics, and Business Software Associates. He has extensive experience in leading teams across various geographies in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. When not articulating and brainstorming with his team on new ideas that would later shape into major IT projects, Sumeet spends his time reading, travel tracing world war history and renaissance art.