Impact of Covid-19 on Startups and Adopting The Lessons for Sustainability

By Emmanuel Otori


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a widespread effect on businesses in many ways that has caused huge layoffs, bankruptcy, reduction in the production of the units of goods or services offered, increase in price from suppliers and change in the way work is done globally.

With this pandemic, comes the opportunity to become innovative and creative to serve the market demands and the different unseen variables that have influenced the world of business today.


Huge Layoffs

Start-ups had no constant cash-flow as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and needed to only keep staff that work directly on the areas of priority that serve the customers. Layoffs then became an option as without considering this solution, there would be a backlog in the payment of salaries which will negatively impact the company. These layoffs would also affect the productivity of the limited staff as they had to work longer hours and perform more task than before.



Organizations that took off with initial investments or loan from financial institutions and could not sustain the repayment terms as working capital got depleted and there was not enough traction to request for a second tranche of investment, saw businesses go under as operations came to a grinding halt.


Reduction in the units of production

Consumers as a result of the covid-19 pandemic focused on just the essentials such as food, healthcare and education. There has been an increase in the price of foodstuffs and other items which made consumers to begin to cut spending as their earnings had not changes, this impacted the usual quantities of items purchased and businesses had to adjust by either adopting production upon request only to curb wastages or production in limited quantities as general consumption dropped due to increase in price.


Increase in price from suppliers

The supply chain is an important loop that affects all stakeholders as they obtain directly from manufacturers and then sell to retailers before reaching the final consumers. The conditions leading to whatever form of change from the manufacturer goes to affect the offering provided by the supplier and then goes on till everyone is impacted. Suppliers had to begin to obtain only what can be sold to the wholesalers which came in limited quantity as well.

Thriving In Times of Covid-19 Pandemic

Change is inevitable and only organizations that can adapt to the changing times remain sustainable in business. These are measures to ensure businesses keep running

Adopt a remote work system

Start-ups have realized that the 5-day work week might not necessarily apply any longer as their team can now work from home and still get the job done. Majority of organizations now have a hybrid system of work where some staff work from home and the others onsite, this ensures productivity as teams can now manage themselves without making the top management resort to micromanagement. Tasks such as data entry, phone calls, receipt and reply of emails, online marketing can now be done by a remote team.

Implementation of a cloud based storage system

The use of cloud based storage system might not have been easily adopted by a large percentage of businesses, however as covid-19 began to develop resistance and human-human interaction became limited, a cloud based storage system then became necessary not just for storage of files but for collaborative work and easy referencing of stored documents.


Focus on Cash-flow

Organizations get into a web of numerous activities that then makes them to ignore their core. Inability to focus on their core then begins to bring irregularities in their revenue and this loophole was only exposed during the covid-19 pandemic. Guaranteed cash-flow is the lifeline of every business even if it does not make profit initially; there is a huge possibility of breaking even eventually. Focus should be on every activity directly or indirectly that can lead to generation of revenue for a business.

Data Driven Decisions

Companies are trying to curb wastages that could occur in the application of their resources and they begin to pay attention to the data they are generating. Embedded in the customers data are insights that could lead to what quantity of items should be produced on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis based on the demand from using predictive analytics. Several tools can be used for collecting data for business purposes, mostly used are Google Forms, Google Analytics and Hubspot, the collected data can now be analyzed using specific tools in data science.

Adoption of Wage Earnings System

The era of weeks of work before earning a salary has also come under challenge as there is a rise in the demand for freelancers to perform certain tasks without having to provide medical care, workspace, internet services and all the offers that comes with servicing a full-time staff. Companies need to decide on what roles demand a full time staff and the ones that demand freelancers, consultants or part-time staff.


Emmanuel Otori, the writer has worked on the GEM Project of the World Bank Bank, Conducted training for entrepreneurs and professionals at the Abuja Enterprise Agency and has over 8 years of experience of working with over 50 SMEs across Nigeria.

Please visit my LinkedIn profile here –

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