COVID-19: Survival Kit For SMEs/Business, By Bukonla Adebakin

There’s no doubt that small businesses will be the hardest hit from the  COVID-19 pandemic. The bigger businesses have a better chance of surviving; however, small businesses tend to live only with a few months of cash flow (at most), so when a crisis as significant as this hits, it can be devastating not only for the business owner, but also for the employees they support.

So, how can small businesses survive these turbulent times? There’s no easy answer; however, I decided to share a few points centred around some strategies from our survival kit at RED | For Africa and The Future Project which is primarily focused on Businesses/SMEs.

In this survival kit exists strategies that Businesses/SMEs can employ::

  • Don’t panic, take care of yourself, and keep calm: This can be difficult especially when cash is running out, but remember to take care of yourself in a way that works for you. If faced with some difficult decisions, take time to balance yourself and your mind before taking any drastic decisions. In what is a very dynamic and rapidly changing situation, sometimes taking a step back to reassess, asking for trusted opinions, and also keeping perspective will help.
  • Tap into resources provided by government and financial institutions: Governments around the world are already putting together initiatives to support small business owners, and this is something that is evolving on a daily basis. Be up to date with how your governments can help cut costs, as well as other important institutions such as banks who also have a social responsibility. If you’re registered in more than one market, explore support options in both markets.
  • Make a three-month financial plan: Every small business usually has the same key expenses, which include employee salaries, office rent, and utility bills. Further expenses range from industry to industry. Speak to who you need to pay in the next three months (landlord and suppliers), and find out what options you have to spread out the costs.

Look at your personal finances, and speak to people you may support to have a realistic discussion on how to control your personal spending for the next three months. What costs are necessary, what can be put on hold? If you have a partner supporting you as you grow your business as the breadwinner, have an open and honest discussion with them about your immediate and long-term plans for the business.

  • Find the opportunities: It’s never nice to capitalize on events such as this, but they can also be a wake-up call to reconsider how you have been doing business. In this case, is your business model able to survive the changes that will come from the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you expect your customers to behave moving forward? What will and won’t matter to them, and how can you accommodate who will likely be a new type of customer? Can you digitize any of your products or services, and start offering them online? Can you implement technology to balance any loss of earnings by offering new ways to connect with your customers?
  • Upskill your staff: Wherever possible, try your best to keep your staff– they rely on you, and if you have managed a good team, they should be supporting you. You could train your existing staff on additional skills, which could make them more productive and efficient, rather than hiring more staff. Look for courses and resources similar to this that most match your needs and also your budget during this time.

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