Around the world, many small businesses have been hit extremely hard by the impact of the coronavirus. It is no lie that so many businesses are sorely affected by the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic, but even as we as an enterprise trying to figure out a way to come out of this crisis, we are eager to help our community of entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs navigate a way out of this coronavirus pandemic, together with us.
However, with partial lockdown measures currently in place for nonessential businesses, entrepreneurs might find it challenging to maintain business continuity in the upcoming months. Therefore, it is important that SMEs make a move to survive the pandemic and also improve their business. There are five things the SMEs can do to secure the survival of their business.
1. Turn opportunity into profit: Being able to adapt to the situation during an economic crisis is an important aspect that SMEs must-have. Instead of viewing the present situation as a short-term crisis that you should try to leave behind as soon as possible and return to your comfort zone, you should ask how to use the current situation to keep serving your customers without going out of business.
Identify new business opportunities generated by this crisis. One way to identify new opportunities is to creatively address people’s fears, uncertainties and lack of trust. Develop new products that can be offered to your customers. At the same time, you’re making a profit, serving product value to your customers, thriving in a pandemic.
2. Revamp your branding materials: This pandemic provides a good opportunity for businesses to do some revamping; ask questions about how to improve efficiency.
This is the period to reflect on the image you want your brand to have and how you want your brand to be perceived. Some branding elements to update could be website redesign, brand logo, message fonts, colours, design layouts, tagline, colour palette, and all the marketing and promotional materials will aid in giving your business an appeal in a very attractive way.
3. Tap into grants and relief funds: Several governments have launched or materially expanded the scope of SME loan guarantee schemes in response to the crisis. Governments and financial institutions are taking action to support SMEs, with big corporations promising to help entrepreneurs and their staff stay afloat during the pandemic.
The federal government of Nigeria (through the CBN) recently announced a relief fund plan for SMEs.
Facebook also recently announced the launch of a Small Business Grants Program that will provide US$100m in cash to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. Even though applications aren’t open yet, you can sign up to their update scheme and be notified before the launch.
4. Look out for partnerships: This is the period to also be on the lookout for collaborations, ponder on how best you can leverage on other businesses and keep serving the needs of people while staying afloat in crisis.
Use platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram to look for companies whose products you can incorporate in your services. Firms that rely on e-commerce will appreciate your platform.
5. Move online and be informed: In such volatile times, moving online can give you the assurance you need to keep your business going. SMEs must consider digital platforms to run and manage their investments.
If your business provides online-based services, You can use chat and video conference apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Meet, Trello and Zoom to bring your team and clients together and encourage communication. This is key to successfully retain clients, manage your employees and keep morale up. And if you have been a traditional retailer, operating a brick and mortar store and relying on face to face transactions, this is the perfect chance to make a transition into the digital space and get your business the support it needs in this challenging period.
Also, you need to be informed and know what’s happening around you. It is important for business owners to remain informed about new policies, events and opportunities as they relate to their business as well and global economy. For instance, there are grants, loan, relief funds that you may ordinarily not be aware of, following relevant business pages on social media would be of great help.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a significant threat not only to SMEs but also to the Nigerian economy. Thus, the best response to the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic consists of focusing on the explained activities above. These activities can help in providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to thrive amid and after the pandemic. Like all difficult situations, this too shall pass!