A look back at how COVID showed me what my business needed to grow

March 2020 was a wild time for businesses in the Philippines. Big companies were closing down, smaller companies couldn’t afford to keep operating, I feel so fortunate I didn’t have to close my doors. In spite of all the things COVID-19 has done, at the very least it was an eye-opening experience. It showed me what my company is and isn’t capable of doing by putting it through a real-time stress test, one that I would later find out, many of my friends’ businesses would not pass.

One area that needed work

One problem during the pandemic was the disconnect between us and our partners overseas. There was no real way we could feel what they were going through. Although we were successful in moving all staff to a work from home setup, we were still at a loss for what was happening across the ponds. We weren’t able to assess what their markets looked like, what their client base looked like, we couldn’t predict what was going to happen so we couldn’t help them.

The biggest hit during the pandemic

The thing that kept me up at night and the single worst part of COVID-19 and having a business was the staff cuts. Having to let go of that many people in such a short amount of time gave me a sick, sinking feeling in my gut. We had even prepared for this outcome during an all-hands meeting I held and that didn’t make it any easier to do. My management team and I all shared the problem of sleepless nights as the cuts began. Letting go of really great people with so much potential broke my heart. (Happy ending though, the company got back on its feet and we were able to pick up the people who weren’t hired elsewhere.)

Weakness turned into a strength

Kind of a middle ground type of a thing, COVID-19 showed me that our, at the time, current tools couldn’t adapt to certain workflow changes. This gave us the opportunity to try out tools to see which were scaleable. We found some that worked well for us that would allow us to adapt to this new normal we now live in. Our work from home teams could now function at a much higher capacity than before. Management from a home setup was also made easier with our new toolkit. 

Perseverance of my team got us out of the worst of it

The management in Clark Outsourcing is what I’m most proud of. Through the worst part of COVID so far, the management team has displayed incredible amounts of professionalism as well as adaptability. There were times where choices had to be made on the fly and without my team I don’t know if the company would have survived. Their response time, ability to handle problems in uncharted waters, and their business instinct helped keep the company afloat. I’ve always said people are the greatest asset and if this isn’t a testament to that, I don’t know what is.

Diversifying our industries

Aside from the fantastic managers at CO, COVID showed how stable we are due to our diversity. Our partnerships with different types of industries allowed us to keep operations going smoothly. We weren’t locked into a singular industry which gave us the flexibility to have some operations going smoothly while others were being scaled down by our partners. In line with our flexibility, our business model allowed us to easily transition to a work from home setup. Both the client staff and the internal teams had an easy transition and were able to be as productive as they were in the office, with minimal down time due to technical difficulties. 

Learn, adapt, survive

Overall I was able to view COVID’s effect on my business and learned a great deal from it. I was able to spin the trials that my company faced in a positive manner and in doing so, CO came out stronger than it was before. We took the pandemic head on and came out as a more cohesive unit, which is saying a lot considering it could have been a lot worse. Looking back now I can say that we weren’t prepared for it, but we learned from our mistake. In the event of another pandemic, we have processes in place that will ensure a smooth transition. If I was able to go back and stop it all from happening, would I? Of course I’d stop it, but it happened, we persevered and grew from it, as should every company fortunate enough to have survived the initial impact of the COVID event.