Installed overnight, the COVID-19 crisis meant the total or partial interruption of activities for many industries. From a certain point of view, this crisis can be compared to the one in 2008, which screened the businesses of small entrepreneurs just as ruthlessly. Many of them then gave up their businesses, no longer having enough financial resources to support themselves. Unfortunately, even today, more than 50% of entrepreneurs finance their business with their own money.
The truth is a painful one: the stories and experiences of entrepreneurs worldwide show that, in the context of the return, no company will be able to balance the expenses so that they become proportional to the decrease in revenues.
Slowly, small businesses have overcome the initial shock of the crisis and are now looking for options to bring them back to track: from finding solutions to protect the safety and health of employees to accessing financing solutions.
In this sense, what do small businesses do concretely, in the perspective of returning to the waterline?
- The first and most important rule: reducing the risk of infection, through measures such as cleanliness, safety, and conduct rules adapted to the new context
Most of the business owners we spoke to have prepared a phased return to work. In sectors where teleworking is a viable option, a large proportion of employees will continue to work from home. Where return to work is inevitable, safety and protection measures will be rigorous: disinfectant mats, dispensers of alcohol-based solutions, wearing protective equipment such as masks and gloves (as appropriate, and visors), appropriate marking floor with distance delimiters and the like. At the same time, reducing the physical presence of the staff to the minimum possible level will be the best method of protection.
- Supply and diversification of suppliers
Many businesses have now learned the painful lesson on their own that relying on a single supplier or selling a single type of product or service is not viable for the company’s future. Therefore, over 60% of the business owners we discussed with the reopening of the business considered this recovery measure. For any type of business, it is important that the range of services and products offered be as varied as possible.
Given the changes that are transforming the consumer market before our eyes, the price will probably be king in the marketing mix, at least in the immediate future. Most contractors in the service sector choose to make special packages or offer free attachments to existing subscriptions. Under these conditions, they say, they retain their customers and align with the competitive requirements of the market. Also, an important component of pricing is flexibility, openness to accept payment in installments or an extended payment term.
- Short-term but perspective plans
It is clear that this is not the time for major investments. However, close-up planning, but with an overview of long-term goals is a healthy attitude for any company. Most entrepreneurs say that this crisis has made them much more flexible, less strict in terms of pursuing the business plan, so that goals can be achieved faster and more efficiently. However, caution should be essential in the next period.
- Diversification of income sources
During this period, the biggest problem of the companies was the lack of liquidity, generated by various causes: decreased sales, delays in paying invoices, etc. Among the measures to increase the liquidity contribution are the restructuring of some ongoing loans, reducing the small business insurance cost, the renegotiation of payment terms with suppliers, access to alternative financing solutions such as factoring or discounting, as well as the sale of fixed assets of the company (such as land, machinery, etc.).
Ultimately, at this moment it is not possible to predict what form the economic recovery will take. The world has never faced such a situation, so the comeback scenarios have sometimes extremely different projections. Regardless of whether your activity has been totally or partially interrupted, it is important to overcome this period of stagnation.
So, keep up the good work. You will prove that you are valuable to customers, suppliers and employees, and you will give the company the chance to return to the waterline.
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