Entrepreneurs will have to deal with the financial impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and households long after the national lockdown has ended. Seraj Toefy, Custodian of Entrepreneurship at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) shares key things that entrepreneurs can do during this time.
It is time to cut all discretionary spend. Small businesses have a civil duty to try and cut as few jobs as possible during this time, so cutting everything else needs to take priority before staff are affected. Negotiating with banks and suppliers for payment holidays, rebates, interest cuts and any help they can give should be top priority. The Department of Small Business Development has also offered assistance to small qualifying businesses. You can apply from 24 March 2020 at www.smmesa.gov.za
Continue to operate
If you can, set up staff at their homes with laptops and WIFI and use some of these tools that can assist with remote working:
Zoom, Google HangOuts or Skype to have staff and client meetings
Slack or Basecamp for instant messaging
Monday, Asana or Clickup for productivity and project management
Dropbox and GoogleDrive for file sharing
Remo and GoToWebinar for online events
Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for online networking
If your business is more production-based, find a way of maintaining some level of service, even if it is far reduced, and adheres to social distancing. If you have a factory that normally employs 150 people, then rather reduce your output by putting two shifts of 75 people, and space them out. This way you are at least still delivering something and keeping your staff employed.
Co-opetition is when you cooperate with your competition. Now is not the time to try and beat one’s competition, but to reach out and see if one could share workloads, share knowledge and work together to try and survive this.
As with all crises, increased communication reduces anxiety. As such, increasing communication with staff, suppliers and clients is paramount. Remind your clients that you are still operational, offer help and support. Your staff will be anxious, so help them through this time by being as open and honest with them as you can. It is ok to be vulnerable; you may be surprised by how much support you receive.
Small businesses often don’t have the time to strategise due to work load however the slow-down of the economy does not mean that one must slow down. Business owners should use this time to think of ways of how they will do things better when the shutdown is lifted.
Read and study
As an entrepreneur, your single biggest asset is you. Use this time to work on yourself. Read books or study online. There are several short courses that one could do while in isolation.