CxO of the Week: Krishnan Ganesh, Renowned Serial Entrepreneur and Promoter

By : |July 16, 2020 0

CxO of the Week: Watch this episode of Re-Invent your Business series by CMR and hear to renowned serial entrepreneur, K. Ganesh in conversation with Pradeep Gupta, CMD, CyberMedia Group, on how to deal with this disruption due to Coronavirus. More than 1000 people attended the webinar and there were hundreds of audience question. An edited excerpt of the conversation is given below.

PG: What as per you are the five key things that business especially let’s say a small and medium business should be looking at today?

K Ganesh: I don’t know that if can talk about five, but the single most important thing that comes to mind, obviously is survival. Am I going to be able to survive this once in a century? Unpredicted and random, to use cliche words. But this is something that you cant be prepared for. And this is perfectly fine because you don’t prepare for something that happens once in a century. So, it’s not surprising that we are not prepared. But having said that, once normality returns whatever is the new normal then the first thing is survival.

There are companies, startups, SMEs and even established corporates, which are at various precarious situations or positions. Let’s take the simplest example of companies which have a very little runway, very little cash but are burning money, waiting to address it openly to survive. There are other companies which have been, directly impacted like the travel industry. But there are other companies which are not directly badly impacted because of payments. But they are, because of the lockdown, because people cannot move there. There are challenges that they are not able to operate.

And then you have companies which are losing money which cannot sustain. There are companies in the middle of the money-raising (capital). It depends on the situation. Large companies (publicly listed), they are facing temporary loss and suspension for 3-4 months. It’s very similar to how we run on savings, while daily wage workers have to earn to survive.

Second, is how Business Models have changed. How is the business that we are operating changing to consumer behaviour? To me, that is another big impact. Because whether we like it or not consumer behaviour has permanently got changed. The way we build immunity, make decisions, singularly affects a business.

PG: What are some other strategies that some companies should look at? Like pivoting? Or should they wait for a little while? What are 3-4 different strategies that people can follow?

K Ganesh: In the pandemic situation, you cannot take decisions during a lockdown. You cannot take knee-jerk or long-term decisions. So, take a deep breath and see if you can handle a lockdown and return to normalcy while keeping your wits. The reason I’m saying that, is that, irrespective of several webinars you expect or experts giving gyaan including me, we don’t know the extent of the problem we don’t know the full impact of a problem. We don’t know how long is the problem going to last and when it ends what will be a new normal.

Secondly, having said that, there are certain directional trends which are very clear. Consumer behaviour has changed. People’s propensity to sit in enclosed spaces will reduce for the next year or two. So if you are a company who is in that space, then you have to take a re-look on how and what you’re going to do.

Third, If you are in a situation where there is going to be a temporary disruption because people are worried about lives and safety, but it is not going to last forever. There, you go into a holding mode. How do I cut my expenses? How do I survive? As in, I just have to ensure that my expenses are smaller than before. It’s like saying somebody has lost their job and they will find another job in 3-6 months. But till the time they need to see how they get that discretionary expenses or postpone.

Next, think if you can do something different, because of the new changing consumer behaviour. Can you tap into the new ice and use this particular opportunity and find out new product market?

PG: You talk about conserving cash. But some have raised money, especially in such tough times. would you like to share something about that experience?

K Ganesh: Whenever we have a situation like this, an unprecedented crisis, everybody gets down to the conservation mode. Even a typical investor starts a wait-and-watch scenario. Because from that point of view they’re in a situation where they are thinking that there is no glory in investing in a falling line. So, they go on to holding. But they are certain companies that have been fortuante. The customer and the customer needs are changing and therefore businesses need to look at those new needs that the customers have. These businesses have very drastically stayed protected from the market.

Also, for startups who have not got investments, right now when things are changing and evolving there is a lot of uncertainty. There is a reluctance to invent. So, just hold it out unless you are in a very strong sector. Don’t try to go and race aggressively because people are very busy with their problems. If they are not, then they are busy trying to establish how long it will take to make the new normal.

PG: On Retraining and education? Your views on that.

K Ganesh: This is a tough time and because of the drastic changes, the number of people needed in the industry will go down unless you happen to be in the video conferencing or sanitizer making stream. There are challenges and strengths of the number of people needed and also in terms of the skills of the people needed.

So, this entire middle management, senior management, entry-level people, people who are graduating and who are looking to come into employment in certain sectors, which have been affected by immigrants, they all will need to upskill. Now, when the new normal comes, there will be a need for people, for employees. So, employment will be back but the skills required might be different, drastically different.

For past CxO of the Week, read here.

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