In any scenario of a global economic downturn, it is mostly the small businesses that take the hardest hit. The current pandemic of COVID-19 is no different. For the last few months, small and medium enterprises have been grappling for sustenance, some stopping their services altogether, while others are pushing through to keep their operations going. Issues like lower cash flow, minimized clientele/customer base, and managing costs have forced many businesses to rethink their existence. But the key to survival is all about finding ways out of roadblocks, isn’t it?
So, what can these businesses do to survive and sustain the pandemic and continue to thrive? As experts and thought leaders believe, there are a few tried and tested ways that these enterprises could adopt to stay alive and kicking!
1. Be agile
The agility of processes and functions is one of the keys to stay ahead of the game today. More so now, when businesses need to adapt and adjust to the challenging market circumstances and tweak their operations to suit the immediate needs of the business, as well as of their customers. From digitalizing systems to incorporating newer services, or setting up a solid WFH/remote working system, it is time to transform the way you work and serve people.
2. Tap into opportunities
With every challenge, comes hidden opportunities. Depending on what product or service you offer, you can include options like flexible payment methods, high-priority goods, round-the-clock customer support, and always stay connected to people who matter to your business. It goes a long way in strengthening your business contacts.
3. Be present online
Being digital-first has now become essential. If you are in the retail business or have a brick-and-mortar store, now is the time to take it online and expand your customer base. This way, you can keep it running even during the lockdown. It might need some initial investment, but the infrastructure costs will definitely be lesser than a physical store and will be more sustainable in the long run. If you already have an online-based business, expand your reach using social media, paid ads, and boosting your SEO exercises to drive more traffic.
4. Invest in your employees
Businesses that hold onto their human resources despite all odds are the ones who keep surviving. By investing in your bottom line, you not only get their support and help retain them but also ensure increased productivity. This is the time to train your people, help them upgrade their skills, and explore different roles, so they also grow while helping you sustain. For instance, let your sales teams learn about marketing and other operations, while you provide necessary technologies and flexibility of the work environment.
5. Get financial aid
Governments and financial institutions are coming together in these times to support small and medium businesses with small-term aids and loans. Stay updated on how they can help you manage costs, invest smart, and move your capital around while helping you prepare for financial exigencies.
With the above practices, also consider these:
When moving your costs around, take into account the financial standings of your suppliers, vendors, or customers, and be supportive to your community.
Stay away from panicking on sudden market shifts and making hasty decisions. Always rely on available data and analyze your next strategy.
Do not try to game the market or its situations. Stocking up on inventory and reselling at a higher price might seem profitable right now but will not be a sustainable or an ethical measure in the long run.
Like everything else, this pandemic and its effects will not last forever. As long as you can adapt and keep sailing, holding onto every resource, you can sustain, survive, and rise above any crisis!