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COVID-19

VICCO Director Sanjeev Pendharkar reveals strategies to help startups thrive any pandemic

Sanjeev Pendharkar

Sanjeev Pendharkar

COVID-19 has adversely impacted the overall investment sector. While businesses across all sectors can sense the repercussions of COVID-19, start-ups have particularly been one of the most vulnerable, and in fact, are facing various formidable challenges both, from a business as well as from an operations’ perspective.
Most start-ups have witnessed a decline in supply and or demand, except for those startups that are engaged in the supply and, or delivery of ‘essential services’, educational technology, gaming or streaming services. Notwithstanding the above, glitches in the supply chain network have either way presented challenges for all start-ups.
However, the start-up ecosystem has been continuously striving to adapt to the present situation as flexibly as possible, by focussing on the need to innovate  and diversify their business techniques and its operations.

Here are five crisis management strategies to aid startups sail through the pandemic

and emerge stronger on the other side:

1. Prioritise risk management

For the good part of the year, businesses have been compelled to navigate the unknown and tackle unforeseen challenges. COVID-19 has made entrepreneurs more aware of the risks to their business, be it legal, financial or manufacturing-related. For instance, startups in the automobile and manufacturing sectors, with high exposure to China, struggled for profitability and encountered low cash reserves. The disrupted global supply chain only added to the risk and economic ramifications of doing business in the new normal.

One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic for startup founders has been the realisation to put in place a business model that will assess potential risks, and explore ways to mitigate and respond to them. In his context, it is essential that legal issues are anticipated well in advance to better manage potential contract disputes with overseas suppliers. A crisis manager should assess supply chain and production risks, and ensure stable cash reserves even before the next crisis shows up at the door.

2. Have liquid cash available for emergency situations

COVID-19 has made small business owners understand the criticality of conserving capital effectively for the long-term. The focus should be on prudent cash management by cutting down on marketing spends and other expenses that can wait until business picks up again. For those startups facing a cash crunch, founders should consider liquidating investments to meet the financial needs of the business during the crisis. They can also leverage the opportunities presented by various fundraising options available to access capital to tide over financial problems with a mid-term view.

3. Overcommunicate with stakeholders

A crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on business leaders to effectively guide their enterprises and show empathy to the broader ecosystem of stakeholders. It is important for resilient startup founders to lead from the front and ?overcommunicate? with their employees, investors, vendors, customers and other stakeholders about how the ship will be run during the crisis. Maintaining open lines of communication with stakeholders will prevent misinformation about the company spreading, thereby safeguarding its reputation. If leaders communicate in an authentic and empathetic manner during a crisis like COVID-19, it will reassure key stakeholders that business continuity is maintained. Crucially, it demonstrates a sense of optimism that the crisis is perhaps a silver lining to usher in new opportunities.

COVID-19 prompted startup founders everywhere to communicate early and often with their stakeholders. For example, Deepinder Goyal, founder, Zomato, released a statement that transparently acknowledged the challenges facing the company, such as temporary cutbacks and downsizing, among others. Airbnbs CEO Brian Chesky sent a note to 1900 employees expressing his anguish at letting them go. Despite the tough decisions startup founders have had to take during the pandemic, they have been lauded for their open and transparent communication strategy that

displayed their own vulnerability. Many businesses have also set up a coronavirus task force and ?war rooms to build an effective response mechanism to combat COVID19.

4. Rally around your team to innovate

Innovation doesn’t exist in silos. As we look to the future, startup founders should view the pandemic as an ?experiment? that helped them understand the real essence of innovation that is possible only through team work. Startups everywhere had to be nimble and empower their team members to think about the bigger picture and produce innovative work to combat the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The pandemic has shown that when innovation flourishes during a crisis, it could lead to new revenue opportunities for businesses. For instance, Bengaluru-based EV startup Emflux Motors empowered its team to pivot and innovate in a new area when its core business came to a standstill during the lockdown. The companys team of engineers ventured into designing face shields to meet the heavy nationwide demand for PPE and are committed to contributing their bit to the Make in India? movement. Thus, startups that were able to effectively evolve their business model and seize into emerging opportunities are most likely to survive for the long haul.

5. Plan for the unpredictable

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for startups to be prepare for the worst as scientists have predicted the occurrence of more pandemics in the future. One thing is clearad hoc responses from the leadership team will not sustain the organisations efforts to safeguard the interests of employees and other key stakeholders in the startup ecosystem. A firm course of action is required to get through not just the current humanitarian crisis, but also any future crises.
Startup founders should assess their companys level of preparedness to accomplish their short to mid-term goals and revisit their strategy at frequent intervals. They should carefully execute plans, as consumers, venture capitalists and industry observers are watching their response to the COVID-19 crisis. If startups have to prepare for a post-pandemic world, they must find ways to build a support system and strengthen their ties with the larger innovation community. They must rethink business as usual and leverage their capabilities to face a new tomorrow. While the startup ecosystem cannot be completely protected from the potential adverse impact of another crisis, these five strategies can help soften the blow and turn a disaster into an opportunity.

How do you lead during a pandemic crisis These answers will inspire you to keep going together

1. This too shall pass

Engage more in ZOOM free coaching sessions on leadership to share ideas to calm the mind and spirit during this uncertain time. This too shall pass. We shall get stronger because of it. ? Joe Kiedinger, Principal and CEO, Prophit Co.

2. Lean into company values

Lean into our company values, which include always assume good intentions and maintain healthy and respectful communication. Now more than ever, we realize that people are on high alert and feeling anxious.

3. Replicate in-office experiences

For us leading has been all about access to the right tools and trying to closely replicate the in-office experience, but remotely. Use WorkFace, Zoom, and Google Hangouts depending on the type of meeting. Our gestures, facial and hand expressions, and movements convey a lot of useful information, like transparency, enthusiasm, and engagement. Using video helps confer personality and helps connect in a more authentic way. Giving employees the right tools and means to keep

collaborating during the day keeps our productivity (and spirits) high. ? Lief Larson, COO, Jenny Life, Inc.

4. Reputations are built in hard times, not the easy times

The coronavirus is top of mind for all of us right now. It’s affecting our business, communities, and day-to-day lives. During this uncertain time, the safety of my employees, customers, and the contractors that use our companys app is the top priority.

In response to the virus, employees were shifted to remote work. This will allow them to safely obey quarantine recommendations. Reputations are built in hard times, not the easy times. I believe in the people I’ve hired. They are a strong team that will pull together and overcome the obstacles presented by this pandemic.

5. Wear the hat of hope

Small business owners, and all leaders, need to be the Comforter and Chief to give great hope. They must have a steady hand to keep responses appropriate. People tend to allow crisis and hysteria to outpace the emergency. When that is done, you’re in a freefall and the emergency is running you, you’re not running the emergency. The most important thing for new leaders is clear headedness and accuracy of the emergency. Oftentimes, the cure can be worse than the disease, and CEOs have a

responsibility to manage the psyche of people around them. If you want to lead any organization and see it rise to ultimate potential, you must wear that hat. In times of crisis, it’s even more important. ? Kevin Crawford, Founder, Kevin Crawford Consulting

6. Increase communication

One thing one can do is to increase communication amongst the team. Rather than weekly check-ins and teleconference staff meetings, we’re checking in with each other in some way on a daily basis. A short text, an email, a phone call ? whatever it takes and whatever works best. This way, we can be there for each other as needed, and address needs as they arise, relieving both team member and team stresses. Vinay Amin, Health Expert & CEO, Eu Natural

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Nagpur News

Nagpur doctor speaks on ‘Development of Homeopathic Method in Modern Medicine’ at Russia

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Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur
Homeopath doctor Dr Kavita Chandak recently was invited as a keynote speaker to the 33rd Scientific and practical conference at Russia.

Dr Kavita Chandak

Homeopath doctor Dr Kavita Chandak, who has two Golden Book Of World Records for treating kidney disorders and success in a case of mucormycosis in her name, recently was invited as a keynote speaker to the 33rd Scientific and practical conference ‘Development of the Homeopathic Method in Modern Medicine’ held at  RUDN University at Moscow in Russia.

Dr Chandak delivered two keynote sessions on the topics:
 
1VICTORY OF HOMEOPATHY IN A CASE OF SIXTH NERVE RECTUS PALSY,HORIZONTAL DIPLOPIA AND MIGRAINE
 
2) AUTISM IS A DEEP PATHOLOGY, CURED WITH A RARE MEDICINE
 
She further discussed the modern trends in homeopathy. Dr Chandak is an  international trainer and speaker who specialises in autism, psychiatric and behavioural disorders, kidney diseases and cancer.  She authored eight books and 294 health articles and recently delivered a series of international seminars in various cities of Gujarat with a Greek homeopath Dr Constantine Tsitinides where they both presented the cases of unusual pathology treated with homeopathy.
 
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Crime

Anil Deshmukh seeks court permission to visit hometown Nagpur, Delhi

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
Former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh approached a Special Court seeking permission to visit his hometown Nagpur and Delhi.

Anil Deshmukh

Former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh approached a Special Court on Thursday seeking permission to visit his hometown Nagpur and Delhi. The Bombay High Court, while granting Deshmukh bail, had put a condition that the latter should not leave Mumbai without the trial court’s permission.

The senior NCP leader, who’s out on bail in an alleged money laundering case, was arrested by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in November, 2021 and later by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2022.

Deshmukh, who filed two separate pleas before the trial court through his advocate Inderpal Singh, said he was a native of Nagpur and has deep family roots there, apart from being the elected representative of an Assembly constituency in Nagpur district. In his plea, Deshmukh stated that he also needed to visit New Delhi to meet his lawyers. 

Special judge RN Rokade sought a response from the ED and CBI and adjourned the matter to February 6.

Also read: Not a populist but a fiscal consolidation budget: CAMIT Chief Dr Dipen Agrawal

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Nagpur News

Not a populist but a fiscal consolidation budget: CAMIT Chief Dr Dipen Agrawal

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Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur

Dr Dipen Agrawal

Dr Dipen Agrawal, President – Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra (CAMIT) reacting to the budget 2023 said that “Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has presented a vision document for India at 100”. In her speech she envisaged various new concepts and proposal to take forward India on its growth journey. She has attempted to provide something for everyone. Outlining the vision of central governments for technology-driven and knowledge-based economy with strong public finances and a robust financial sector, she said that this will be achieved by Jan Bhagidari and Sabka Saath Sabka Prayas.

Dr Agrawal said, the continuation of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for one more year; formation of large producer enterprises to support about 81 lakh women self-help groups; recognizing traditional artisans and craftspeople as Vishwakarma and conceptualizing new package scheme to improve the quality, scale and reach of their products; exploring untapped potential in tourism on mission mode will enable youth in fulfilling their aspirations and provide necessary imputes for growth and job creation.

It is to be seen how government works on the seven priorities ‘Saptarishi’ 1) Inclusive Development 2) Reaching the Last Mile 3) Infrastructure and Investment 4) Unleashing the Potential 5) Green Growth 6) Youth Power 7) Financial Sector identified as guiding factor, added Dr Dipen Agrawal.

The announcement regarding establishment of Digital Public Infrastructure for agriculture to provide farmer-centric solutions on host of farming related activities, massive decentralised storage capacity and government facilitated multipurpose cooperative societies, primary fishery societies and dairy cooperative societies in uncovered panchayats and villages will give boost to rural economy. Similarly establishing new nursing colleges in co-location to medical colleges established since 2014 will improve per-capita nursing staff in the country. While government is considering to introduce teachers’ training through various programs, the government should at the same time ensure that government education institutions are not under staffed. 

Dr Dipen Agrawal welcomed the announcement of PAN being made common identifier for business entities; Unified Filing Process is proposed to be set-up to avoid duplication of compliance; National Financial Information Registry to be set-up as the central repository of financial and ancillary information; the Vivad se Vishwash scheme introduced to settle MSME contractual obligations said that these steps will have long lasting positive effect to improve business sentiments.

The announcement to ensure timely payment is made to MSME, government has linked the deduction under Income Tax Act for payments to actual payment to MSMEs. However, the deduction will be allowed on accrual basis only if it is within time mandated under MSMED Act, i.e. 45 days. In its endeavor to give relief to MSME government has inadvertently created compliance hurdle for other side i.e. large scale industries, this step will have large scale tax implication for them, added Dr Agrawal.

Now days there is nothing much expected from FM on indirect tax but people eagerly wait for announcement on direct tax front. FM has disappointed common man by announcing meager increase (Rs 50000) in basic exemption limit. However, FM has given substantial relief to middle-class individuals by increasing rebate limit from 5.00 lakhs to 7.00 lakhs. Similarly high net-worth individuals will be benefited by reduction in highest surcharge limit from 37% to 25%.

Overall, I see this budget as intelligent budget that focuses on key areas of infrastructure, employment while keeping fiscal deficit on track and on scale of 10, I give 7 points for 2023 Budget.

Also read: 12-yr-old Nagpur boy dies after trying to imitate a deadly YouTube video

Also watch: Lesser know facts about India’s Union Budget

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