COVID-19 hit, what now for SMEs? SME South Africa approached a number of entrepreneurship champions and various stakeholders with the goal of providing strategies for small businesses to survive in what is our new reality.
Jamal Sahib is an Entrepreneur, Business Coach & Author of the book, ‘Start with the End in Mind – The 5 Secrets to Life & Business Success’.
On taking advantage of new opportunities – “History has shown us that many great businesses and millionaires emerge out of a crisis”
Out of every crisis rises opportunities. Look for opportunity in your industry where competition maybe sleeping. Give them a run for their money or buy them out. Customers or suppliers under pressure could be bought out to allow for vertical integration.
This not a scavenger hunt but we can buy businesses and help staff to keep their jobs. These can be win-win sometimes where you are able to buy out a customer or supplier that would have closed down, and therefore grow the size of your business at a lower price than it would have cost you a few months ago, saving it from closing down and helping some people keep their jobs. You need to also look for opportunities outside your industry but around you.
Cash is king. There will be opportunities out there. The world economy goes through cycles and history has shown us that many great businesses and millionaires emerge out of a crisis. We need to make sure we are seizing opportunities and are thinking out of the box.
On ways to pivot your business model – “We need to move to digital for those business that have not had time to do it before”
Lockdown does not mean do nothing. It means planning more than ever before. While we need to stay at home we have to be planning for our staff and how they can survive this time.
Do your teams know that you are planning post Covid and they have a role to play? As part of our planning we have to flip, tweak and change the way we do business. We have time right now to implement new, more simple cost effective systems. We need to move to digital for those business that have not had time to do it before. We cannot leave things to chance; we need to plan for the change. The world will never be the same again.
Dust off those projects you’ve shelved because you didn’t have time to execute them. Revive those projects and start planning now. Whether or not there will be another extension to the lockdown, as a business owner you have to plan for both scenarios.
Plan a week ahead. Have a daily diarised meeting with your staff. Give your team a sense of purpose.
On cost cutting versus innovation – “The only way out of this is sales”
You cannot save yourself into success, you have to sell yourself out of the situation. The only way out of this is sales. We need to do intelligent marketing showing empathy and compassion and remain top of mind post Covid. A great example of intelligent marketing is this Nandos advert https://youtu.be/tZCGk2BrES0
Change up your marketing by delivering at 150% – 100% of what you were doing plus 50% of new things. This is not the time to reduce marketing spend. When done correctly marketing is an investment. Innovate your marketing !
Streamline processes and reduce expenses. A 90-day plan of cash flow projections is essential. We are in survival mode.
Renegotiate all large purchases that were in process. Allocate a task for one key employee in the company to track all the government funding as well as interest free loans or cash flow opportunities available to assist businesses. If funding is available to keep you afloat seize it. Revise targets for the year by adjusting timelines and looking for new ideas for achieving your goals. This is an innovation on it’s own ! Learning how to compile documentation and submissions for funding effectively for your organisation is a great capability that you can use to grow your business in the future.
On turn around strategies for SMEs post Covid 19/lockdown – “Have the tough and difficult conversations”
You should be communicating with everyone in your business; your staff, your suppliers, tenants, landlords and anyone important to your business.
Have the tough and difficult conversations. Everyone will lose something with this crisis because the economy is broken. The rate of incoming revenue has been drastically reduced through lack of trading.
Tenants and landlords are both affected so are employees and suppliers. We all cannot carry the burden alone. We have to find a meeting point for everyone to achieve a win-win situation where we all share the burden and impact of the lockdown. Switch and flip the way you do business. Look for ways to adapt your product to increase the prospects that can then be attracted to your business.