How One Business Grew Tenfold During the COVID-19 Pandemic
How I Grew My Business by 10 Times in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The global pandemic proved detrimental to some businesses in India, while others saw spectacular growth. Their experience of survival can tell us a lot about prerequisites for success in chaotic times. Meghna Saraogi, Co-Founder and CEO of StyleDotMe, has shared insights into how her company managed to increase its turnover tenfold.
Effects on Local Businesses
The national startup system has seen exponential growth since 2010, with the volume of raised capital skyrocketing from $550 million to $14.5 billion in 2019. By the beginning of the pandemic, it was the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world. Then, the crisis hit.
Emerging businesses grappled with the same negative effects as the rest of the industries: shrinking revenues, massive layoffs, and shutdowns. This was the survival of the fittest. According to a report by TiE-Delhi and Zinnov, funding of startups halved during the lockdown period. Approximately 40% of them were adversely affected, and 15% had to discontinue operations altogether.
It turned out that few startups had bothered to prepare for the new age of retail and consumerism. Digitization started spreading like wildfire. For companies like StyleDotMe, the pandemic became a catalyst that accelerated growth. Jewelers saw a rise in demand, as consumers were seeking convenience 24/7, even in the midst of the crisis.
The population needed ways to buy products and services online and earn money on the Internet. As conventional employment was shattered, alternative ways to earn a living became all their age, too. Segments like Forex trading were growing fast. As people were confined to their homes, they started making and spending money remotely using platforms and apps and learning about lucrative Forex strategies in India for free. The presence of global brokers like Forextime facilitated this transition.
What Helped Survivors Stay Afloat
The survival of young companies largely depended on their resilience — the ability to overcome challenges and recover quickly. StyleDotMe had already started innovating in retail tech, which is a nascent space for the country. The company did not hesitate to focus on the need gaps caused by the crisis and accelerate its digitization. This forward-thinking philosophy helped the brand and the retailers it works with prosper. Here are the key lessons it has learned, according to its founder:
1. Importance of Acceptance
Many businesses failed to recognize the threat before the pandemic hit. Rumors about Covid-19 began spreading in early 2020. The disruptions observed in the market were attributed to the Chinese New Year. That is why, when the government announced a lockdown in late March, it came as a shock to many entrepreneurs. They were dumbfounded.
2. Importance of Agility
Businesses had to be flexible to adapt to the new reality. They needed to make difficult choices to survive and mitigate the negative effects. There were two options — to be proactive or wait for improvement and shut the business down.
For example, retailers had to cope with the piling of inventory and the switch to remote communication with clients. Companies that had invested in digital technology gained an advantage over more conservative rivals. New business entities were forced to leave their comfort zones.
3. Digital Presence Is Obligatory
By late spring, all companies were engaged in the development of their digital presence. The consumer was now only reachable online. The jewelry business used insights from social media and client feedback to analyze the market.
4. Staff as an Asset
Startups need goal-oriented people to survive this crisis. During turbulent times, it is easy to lose sight of the vision you started with. This proves lethal. Survivors relied on strong teams of individuals who shared one passion and were committed to the same goal. These groups are important drivers of growth.
Reasons for Being Hopeful
By the end of 2020, the local startup environment was finally bouncing back. Over the next five years, the country is expected to see at least 60,000 new startups, according to the TiE-Delhi and Zinnov report. Today, funding has almost returned to its pre-crisis level. This demonstrates the impressive resilience of this ecosystem.
Indian businesses have clearly learned valuable lessons from the pandemic. They have embraced digitization and become adept at communicating with customers remotely. The battle with the virus is far from over, but there are convincing reasons to expect further improvement in 2021.