For over a decade now, I have worked closely with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and startups, and understand their challenges very well. India’s SMBs are the backbone of the economy, accounting for around 45% of industrial output and 40% of the total exports. To help SMBs navigate the crucial starting up stages successfully, we launched, an online legal services platform. We help our customers with company registration, trademark filing, copyright protection, Registrar of Companies (ROC) compliances, and GST filing.

As the lockdown starts to ease, I believe SMBs and startups should be ready to play a significant role in boosting and re-energising the economy. In fact, the current situation presents a not-to-be-missed opportunity for these businesses to relook at, rethink, and reinvent their business and offerings. 

Based on our experience, I recommend that companies identify core business strategies and anchor these around technology. This will help you sustain business in the current scenario and grow positively beyond it. 

Here are three guiding principles that are sure to help you, much as it did us:


1. Create new revenue streams

Customers are not spending as much as they did before COVID-19. So, focus on delivering more high value, low-cost services. The powerful analytics that Salesforce offers helped us optimise the services we offer – we realised that we shouldn't offer any services that cost more than INR 4000 at this time. Typically, legalities related to business agreements and documentation cost startups a lot of money. So, we digitised 21 of the most critical legal agreements for startups and made these available at a nominal cost. This has now become a new revenue stream for us, with customers buying these services even during this time.

You can also use analytics to identify and nurture existing revenue streams that continue to show positive returns. For us, one such example is Startup India registration and MSME registration, which we hadn’t marketed aggressively earlier. Recently, the Government of India launched COVID-19 specialised loan and funding schemes for startups and MSMEs. These Government initiatives empower startups through a slew of benefits, such as loans under various government schemes and tax exemptions. Data showed us that this service is of interest to customers – in fact, many of them were using this time to implement initiatives that are often ignored when it is business as usual. We are now offering this as a value-added or add-on service to our customers, and despite the lockdown, we had 1500 clients sign up for it within a month.

One lesson we have learnt from the current crisis is that the time is right to transition from low-touch models to no-touch models, where human intervention isn't necessary. Customers will look for solutions that allow them to self-serve, saving money and time. Such models help you with resource optimisation as well, and boost your productivity. At, we are building a Heroku-based self-service app that  allows our customers to create, print, share, and download a range of legal documents. 


2. Revisit your marketing strategy

With business activities going low-key, use the downtime to ideate on and implement cost-effective, value-rich marketing campaigns. Salesforce Pardot helped us surface insights from our marketing data, so we could re-engage with non-active customers. You can also use Pardot to nurture existing customers and engage with them on a deeper level. We did just this; we launched focused campaigns to reconnect with many of the 67,000 customers on our database.  


3. Empower your customers

Your customers have always been there for you. Now is the time for you to reciprocate. Share your expertise with them, where relevant. We have seen startups flounder during the initial period of business because they weren’t aware of the Do’s and Don’ts that go beyond the conventional advice given by mainstream media or online resources. Through webinars, we plan to educate budding entrepreneurs on how to launch a business, avoid common pitfalls, and enjoy long-term growth. We are also offering webinars to help SMBs rethink business strategies to be successful even after COVID-19, and plan to give individual coaching to guide startups and SMBs on their journey. We have also developed a Startup Fitness Report tool to help startups easily identify and overcome legal and compliance related pitfalls.

The idea behind these webinars is to empower our startups and SMBs. I believe they are the lifeline of the economy. Creating a thriving startup and SMB ecosystem can spur the country’s economic growth and create new jobs, something that is much needed at the moment.

What we have realised in our own entrepreneurial journey is that making the right technology investment has helped us stay resilient during these tough times. Our advice to startups and SMBs - get the right technology partner onboarded and blaze new trails!