7 Business Solutions In Response To COVID-19
With continuing economic uncertainty due to COVID-19, access to the right business advice is crucial. We outline the tips that matter most to SMEs right now.
But with the emergence of new COVID variants and constant shifts in our regions’ economic outlook, sifting through an avalanche of information isn’t easy. How do you filter the right small business advice for you? Whether you’re evaluating your post-COVID business model or sitting at a fork in the road, here are our 7 hot business tips for SMEs:
1. There’s an abundance of COVID business solutions – you just have to know where to look
National and regional chambers of commerce or economic forums tend to offer resources and leadership in tough times. Traditional institutions such as banks, unions or trade associations also step up to shepherd businesses through crisis. Reach out to your bank’s representative to have that conversation.
Don’t say no to help for your business – personal initiatives such as mortgage holidays or childcare concessions could also ease the load financially and emotionally. And if you don’t have all the answers, reach out to those who do. You can network with peers in a similar position in free webinars, or even start a chain of dialogue on LinkedIn.
2. Allocate energy for your wellbeing – and those close to you
SMEs can also seize the opportunity to spring-clean outdated processes, simplify internal bureaucracy and streamline solutions. All freeing up vital time to either grow the business in new and exciting directions or – of course – spend time on self-development, employee bonding or being with family.
3. Maintain liquidity – weigh up your options for releasing cash flow
You’ll already be saving on travel budgets, and pipeline investments can be frozen for now. But when making cuts, don’t forget that your people are essential to future growth. Talent hiring and retention should remain a key focus if your bottom line can justify it.
Credit companies and lenders are placing company spending habits under close lenses, so make sure yours stands up to scrutiny. If you operate across borders, understand regional initiatives or trade deals to stimulate business – such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP).
4. Lean on loyalty
Many customers have resorted to crowdfunding, refusing refunds or purchasing future credit with a brand they love rather than see it go out of business. Genuine requests for help on social media have often been absorbed by a sympathetic and pragmatic audience.
But even if you don’t need to resort to that, make sure you give your loyal customers a reason to come back again and again. Delivering a seamless and highly personalized e-commerce experience is fundamental to ensuring they buy from you well into the future.
5. Communication is crucial
During a crisis, it’s just as important to communicate internally as well as externally. Uncertainty and physical disconnect can put strain on a business, exposing the risk of key talents deciding to leave. Invest in a strong and empathetic workplace culture and regularly reach out to people to find out how they are.
And don’t forget that it’s women and minority groups that have been affected by the pandemic most. SMEs have an important role to play in making sure that their employees have continued access to opportunity and growth.
6. Remind yourself – and your customers – about available tech
Driving customers toward contactless solutions is a growing post-COVID trend. SMEs can also improve customer convenience using technology, such as stocking more options for customization or fuller ranges online. The importance of digitization can’t be overstated – maintaining customer access to your product is crucial for businesses to survive.
And if you’re thinking big, don’t overlook the emergent tech that can help you map a more intuitive business model. Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft Corporation believes that AI has become the most critical technology of our time – and the data that powers it will be the 21st century’s most valuable resource. Early consultation with a tech partner could help future-proof your business for the long term.
7. Flex your business model – don’t get left behind
Singapore ride-hailing firm Grab, which operates in 339 cities in Asia, has suffered from social distancing and stay-home measures driving down demand for transportation. However, CEO Anthony Tan believes that Grab’s new diversified approach — food and grocery delivery, ride-hailing, payments — has helped it adjust to the new normal and attain stability and liquidity during the coronavirus pandemic.
We all want to pinpoint the exact time of recovery. We can look at previous epidemics, crises and trade wars and map their lifespan, but the future is impossible to predict. COVID-19 variants such as Delta – and their far-reaching effects - have proved that already. For Asia’s small businesses, difficult decisions still lie ahead. Remember: those that have weathered the crisis best have made tough decisions, quickly, for the greater good of all stakeholders.
According to the World Economic Forum, 60% of global CEOs believe recovery from COVID-19 will be U-shaped, with a long period between recession and upturn. It’s a time for SMEs, entrepreneurs and businesses of all kinds to embrace unusual ways to survive.
Find out more about our business continuity approach during COVID-19 on our dedicated COVID-19 hub to support SMEs with ongoing recovery and growth.