The 5th Week, of the lockdown, which is to contain the spread of Covid-19, started with a few positive business news.
In first, Bharti Airtel, a leading telecom firm in India, announced paying basic salaries to nearly 25,000 staff employed by its distributors and retail franchisees to help them tide over the unprecedented situation arising out of the ongoing lockdown.
The second news was on Infosys Technologies, the second largest IT firm in India, promising to honour all the job offers made to freshers and lateral hires despite the business uncertainty. Interestingly, I spent my formative years with the firm and credit it for instilling strong value system encompassing integrity, transparency, fairness, excellence, leading by example and so on.
In other similar news, WeWork, a co-working solution provider, offered credits to its members, to compensate for the days the office remained closed and the Government of India announced waiving-off 4 months’ rent for IT firms operating out of STPIs.
Barring the above, unfortunately, even in these difficult times, there are only a handful of firms that are “meeting expectations”, whereas in good times, they expect their staff, suppliers and service providers to “go beyond the call of duty”.
A small-business owner informed that an eCommerce platform, one of the largest in India, delayed payment by over 6 weeks affecting his cashflows and commitments to his suppliers and staff. The trend continues and the crisis, in a way, has given rather an excuse to businesses to further hold back the payments that were “usually delayed” by at least 2-3 weeks.
The harsh reality is that most small businesses operate on a hand-to-mouth basis. They are heavily dependent on fortnightly or monthly payments to sustain and only marginal profits can be used to fund growth.
True character is revealed only in adverse conditions. The current situation presents an excellent opportunity to businesses and individuals to demonstrate their “REAL” character. I mentioned in one of the entrepreneurs’ forums that if a profitable business with cash reserves delays payments to its smaller partner, its hurting not just that partner but every person in that supply chain all the way to the workshop labour and staff at bottom of the pyramid.
It’s time other businesses also follow the example set by Bharti Airtel, Infosys and others. As we all understand, the circulation of money is key for any economy so while we need to be cautious with our spend and plan for a longer run-way, we shouldn’t “deliberately and unnecessarily” hold back when we can afford to spend and pay up to someone who NEEDS IT NOW.
If businesses act responsibly today, I am sure their staff and suppliers shall provide twice the value and returns in good times!