Survival is the Key

By Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar

Published: Thu 13 Jan 2022, 9:00 AM

Recently one of my friend was talking to me about the current pandemic crisis, and he seemed to have a pessimistic outlook- due to an understandable reason. He had to shut down one of his restaurants during the pandemic. “First, the Covid-19 virus shattered the world, and now its new variant Omicron is spreading its clutches. Is there any end to the tunnel? What should we do?” He asked these questions in a worried tone. I answered, “Look, I am neither a futurologist nor a scientist. I don’t have mastery in this subject. I can’t tell you when this pandemic will be over, until then we all have to fight this battle. Currently, the whole human race must unite and help each other. The only word to be remembered right now is survival, which is equally true for businesses. If the situation forces you to halt your business, don’t get hurt. Don’t wind it up forever and step out of it. Try to diversify and start a new venture which the market or the customer currently needs.”

I gave him an example of the previous century when in 1929, American Share Markets suddenly crashed and there started a global financial disaster called The Great Depression. The industrial world had to face the brunt of it for more than a decade. Many industries were closed, and one among them was the American Beer industry, which suffered loss as there was already a prohibition on beer in many states and then there was the disaster of reduced demand and plants shutting down. Many beer companies were permanently closed, but some producers wisely chalked out an intelligent plan. They minimised their beer production and diverted their money into the milk and agricultural industries. This idea worked out, and the beer manufacturers scraped by. After some years, when the depression was over, they restarted their beer manufacturing plants and recovered the losses. Those companies followed only one rule of survival to the fittest.

Before Independence, many companies in India also showed the same innovative thinking skill. The company manufactured iron ploughs for farmers, but after their business got struck by depression, they shifted their production from plough to iron beds. If you have a sense of what the market or customers want, there are lesser chances of failure in business.

What I told my friend is equally important for many young entrepreneurs. If you have suffered a setback in business or had to take diversions — accept and proceed with it. There is no shame in closing down a loss-making business or even selling your profit-making business to another person. Don’t be emotional, rather be practical and accept the situation. I like a quote by Management expert Prof Leon C. Megginson- It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

Dr Dhananjay (Jay) Datar is the chairman and managing director of Al Adil Trading

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