How SMEs can deal with COVID-19 Crisis
The Philippines is one of the countries who initiated an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) as the world suffers the COVID-19 pandemic. While, it may be true that it helps flatten the curve of cases in the country, this has put businesses in a bumpy situation. Among the most affected are those small and medium enterprises that comprise the 99.6 percent of the country’s registered businesses.
With the total shutdown of economic activity, many businesses owners are definitely concerned on how to keep themselves afloat, considering that there are still bills and expenses to be paid. While no one can be 100% certain on how the world will be like post COVID19, there are still some things we can control. We have scoured the Internet and gathered ideas and tips we can adapt that may help us during this time.
1. A healthy mind and body is the top-most priority
Yup, health is wealth. Even while in ECQ, try to find ways to keep you and your family safe and healthy. This may include a balanced meal, going out only when necessary, and following the precautions WHO has prescribed. A healthy body and a clear mindset can also translate to being able to make objective decisions and maybe, come up with innovative ideas.
2. Pivot, problem solve, or side hustle
We are not going to lie- it’s a tough time we live in now and it’s going to get even tougher. But the amazing thing about entrepreneurs is that we are great in finding solutions to problems. Even now, we can see how people are using their skills to pivot or innovate. Restaurants are offering delivery options or even frozen versions of their meals that people can prepare at home. Mercato Centrale, the country’s most popular night market, created a cloud kitchen. Freelancers are offering their services to help companies digitize.
3. Forecasting the unknown and taking control
How long will you able to keep afloat at this time of crisis? Make a forecast of cash flows, number of bookings / sales, etc. Be honestly detailed to include all penalties, if any. Will you still be okay after 3 or 6 months? What services or promos should be applicable at this time? Is that room worth keeping or that travel plan important but not necessary or both? Make your plan based on your forecast results. Think about making some changes such as streamlining process and lowering operational costs, like subscribing to a virtual office rather than keeping a big office that is rarely being used.
4. Ask for support, but understand where they are coming from too
The reality is, we are all on the same boat. As small businesses, we are concerned with the lack of income and the growing bills, but we also have to remember that some suppliers are people trying to survive too. So, as a small business, there is no harm writing that email or letter of appeal to landlords, banks, and others on the possibility of deferring payments, offering discounts, or other forms of support. Most of the time, they are more than happy to help. However, try to understand too if they can’t waive certain fees since they, like you, may be having concerns regarding finances.
5. Employees and staying efficient
Communication is a key to keep your team informed and be part of the plan so they would know what to expect. What are the available options at hand? Is reduction of work or work from home arrangement possible? Should you keep your staffs and upskill them so they can be more productive and efficient rather than hiring more? How can outsourcing of tasks such as calls or website management benefit your business more while keeping costs low? Now might be a right time to review employee’s performance and contributions.
6. Tap into available financial resources and government remedies
Programs such as the P1-billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (named Covid19 P3-ERF) and the 30-day moratorium on rent payments are part of the economic relief program of the government for small businesses greatly affected and further marginalized by the Covid-19 pandemic. It may be worth it to visit government websites such as DTI, Dept. of Finance, BSP, etc. and private financial institutions for possible consultation and assistance.
7. Communicate with your clients and keep them updated
Email or call your clients and ask them how they are doing. Update them on your efforts to continue to serve them better during or after ECQ. Share to them your plans and available services or new promos, if any. Let them know that you are there for them.
Some items in this list may be added or modified based on what your company needs. However, what matters most is that although times are difficult now, we remain resilient. In the end, we shall emerge stronger after winning this battle together.
Sources and for further readings: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-with-hand-on-temple-looking-at-laptop-842554/ https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/348365 https://www.smartcompany.com.au/business-advice/strategy/covid-19-business-survival/ https://www.dti.gov.ph/negosyo/exports/emb-news/sb-corp-opens-p1-billion-loan-for-mses-affected-by-lockdown/