Hang in there ….
With a dedicated team of more than 75 at the deAsra Foundation, we have been on a mission to help small businesses and self-employed individuals succeed! Over the last five years, we are proud to have helped more than 70,000 entrepreneurs. Our focus is on small urban services businesses most popular among them are food counters, restaurants, photographers, fashion designers, beauty salons, vocational classes, etc.
Our group of entrepreneurs is really badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we all hope that we can reign in the virus soon and we can be open for business again, I believe that the repercussions of this crisis will last for a long time.
If you are a small business (or even a larger one) here are some suggestions on what you could do to survive and to successfully ride through this crisis:
1. Conserve cash. Cash is fundamental to the survival of your business. Think hard about your expenses and see if some expenses can be deferred. While you do this, you need to appreciate that you are part of a broader ecosystem and the money you hold back is depriving others in your network of their earnings. Clearly, you cannot afford to have your vendors go out of business because their cash flow needs were not met!
2. Take employees along. Truthfully share with your employees the financial situation of your business. Everyone is aware that we are operating in difficult times and it is better for your employees to know the reality rather than depend on rumours and assumptions. Currently, it is hard to find new work, so you need to be thoughtful about reducing your workforce. Explore if you have other options? Can the pain be shared across all employees? These are difficult decisions and your decisions will be remembered for a long time in the future!
3. Engage with customers. It is important to stay connected with your customers and to stay engaged with them. Everyone is stressed and how you treat them at this time will go a long way in building relationships and in the long-term success of your business. One thing that I have realized is that difficult times are the best times to build strong individual relationships.
4. Innovative ways to manage cash flow. As cash flow will be a challenge, explore if your business allows ways to collect early payments for possible future discounts? Can you sell discount coupons for services over the next twelve months? Offer a subscription that your customers can buy now for future services?
5. Build muscle. Have faith. We must believe that the markets will be back in some time and our goal now must be to build capabilities so that our business will be stronger when the market comes back again. Since you may have some extra capacity – idle time, idle resources at this time, this would be a good time to sharpen your offerings and strengthen your teams. The goal is to emerge stronger post the crisis!
6. Put tech to work. This crisis is forcing us to come up with new ways to work remotely. This may become the new normal. How can you leverage technology and new models for doing business? Can technology be incorporated to create new offerings?
Finally, to all the small businesses — hang in there, we will all emerge stronger!