It is hard to find a business that hasn’t been affected by the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. With supply chain ravaged, negative sentiments all around and lack of demand in the market businesses are struggling to survive the crisis. With job losses and fall in disposable incomes, businesses have taken a huge hit and staring at uncertainty. While parallels are being drawn with 2008-10 Global Financial Crisis the effects of this crisis is likely to stay for few years with reports regularly flowing in that some countries might take as much as a decade to recover from this mess.
Unlike the financial crisis a decade back that was merely an economic crisis with liquidity crunch today’s scenario is a combination of fear, health emergency and a shattered economy. This is a once in a lifetime challenge for businesses and business leaders. Those that innovate and meet challenges head on will survive. The fact is we have more questions than answers staring at our face for the moment – Will a vaccine come out? Will this virus die a natural death? Will this crisis leave behind a mental scar on consumers that may take years to heal?
Small and medium businesses have been hardest hit by the crisis. With fall in demand and problems with cash flows many have been forced to shut shops in the recent months. Millions of people around the world are without jobs at the moment with mass employers such as Tourism, Hospitality, Aviation, Agriculture and Retail having been hardest hit. Though most small businesses are optimistic about getting their wheels moving again, it is well understood that if this pandemic prolongs and people’s freedom and mobility remains restricted many of them will fall through the gaps.
It is here that businesses that stay focused and reinvent themselves to cope up with the so called ‘New Normal’ would survive this crisis and thrive. People aren’t likely to hit the roads again like they did six months back and every business needs to take this in their stride. Already we are seeing several businesses leveraging technology and getting their operations back to pre-Covid levels. Even six months back it would have been impossible to imagine millions of workers being productive while working from home or students attending classes on smart devices. This is where we have businesses are reinventing themselves. Even those that are involved in manufacturing and can’t let their employees work from home are getting into products that are in demand right now.
Tracking the sentiments and news in these challenging times we have come across several stories of businesses that have not only been steadfast in dealing with the pandemic but have also started innovating their products and offerings to align it with the changing mood in the market. The story of Lockport, NY based Sunbeam Labs is an inspiring one and shows how innovative thinking and focus on standing with the community in the hour of crisis is both gratifying and keeps the team motivated to aim at higher goals.
It is interesting to mention here that the company was mainly an industrial alcohol supplier in the pre-Covid days and while it had forayed into the market of hand sanitizers it was never the big revenue earner for the business. With increased demand for sanitizers due to health and safety protocols the company undertook the mission of producing this essential item and offering it to its customers at a fair price. This helped in reducing black marketing and profiteering that was going on in the initial months of the pandemic when the demand for sanitizers had skyrocketed and existing players in the market were finding it difficult to meet the increased demand for these products.
From launching their first batch of sanitizers in the market the company has continuously scaled up its production in the last few months to meet the demands and reduce the gap in supplies in the market. They already have production capacity of 100,000 bottles per day and have been working to increase it to 250,000 bottles per day in the next few weeks. This will not only be a shot in the arm for the company to beat the losses it has had to bear in the last few months but also serve the community in its fight against this virus.
It hasn’t only been about meeting demands in the market but the company has been standing with the community and helping them in its own capacity. They recently undertook an initiative to donate masks, hand sanitizer and PPE gear to first responders in the Lockport, New York. Co-founder Chris Casacci, the brain behind this initiative said that this was part of their commitment of giving back to the community. According to them safeguarding the lives of those who are fighting to save the lives of the larger community has been hugely gratifying.
They have also been reaching out to individuals and families who have been finding it difficult to buy sanitizers in the stores. This donation campaign would help in reducing the spread of virus in the community and save countless lives in one of the hotbeds of the pandemic. Their products are approved by the FDA and hence offer protection against this deadly virus unlike several sub-standards products that have been sold in the market at a time when customers didn’t have any choice and continue to pose risk to the users.
The story of SunBeam Laboratories is one of innovation and the art of survival in a fast changing market. Businesses would have to adapt themselves to the ‘New Normal’ and scout for new opportunities that would not only help them survive but also share a hand of support towards the community. It is a battle where every individual needs to act his/her role of a foot soldier with commitment and positivity. A better, healthier and cheerful world awaits us in the horizon.