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Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are among the hardest-hit in the aftermath of the Coronavirus outbreak. Can you relate? Are we talking here about your business?
Then you are fully aware that since the primary emphasis has been to contain and control the spread of the virus, many governments imposed lockdown restrictions. These restrictions inevitably affected your company’s earning potential.
This is especially the case if yours is a physical SME, such as a retail store, a restaurant, a hotel, a cafe, or the like. With these business disruptions and the ensuing loss of customers, it has been tough for small businesses such as yours to survive. But you don’t need us to tell you that.
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After months of lockdown, however, restrictions are finally beginning to ease. This can allow SMEs such as yours to regain some lost momentum. However, in order to reopen, small to medium-sized businesses must follow compulsory health and safety measures and adhere to all the safety protocols related to COVID-19.
In many cases, businesses must also alter their physical premises to ensure customers’ safety. Safety signs, labels, banners, digital displays, business window decal and decor ideas could be among the elements your SME needs. By these means, you will enhance you store’s appeal and improve customers’ perceptions of your business.
However, putting safety measures into effect is just the first step in a series of actions SMEs must take. To ensure the existence of their businesses, entrepreneurs need to both adapt and innovate for the post-pandemic world.
To make things easier for you, we share here some surprisingly powerful strategies to assist you in boosting your SME’s growth in the wake of the pandemic. Let’s take a look.
1. Overhaul Your SME’s Supply Chain
SME’s have long been reliant on both regional and overseas supplies to fulfill the immediate demand for goods. But with the disruption of business operations because of lockdown restrictions, reduction of labor, and movement of people, businesses now face shortages. Parts, raw materials, and goods are all more difficult to reliably come by.
Therefore, as restrictions slowly lift, entrepreneurs need to figure out ways to overhaul their supply chain models to meet future contingencies.
The supply chain infrastructure has a pivotal role to play here. Businesses need to adapt and upgrade their supply chains based on actual volume and real-time data. Then, in the case of future crises, these infrastructures will be better able to respond spontaneously.
2. Blow up the Demand Curve
The pandemic has had a significant effect on both consumer confidence and consumers’ purchasing power. In large part, this is because companies have had to lay off employees or reduce the salaries of existing employees. Even workers who have not experienced these difficulties fear financial uncertainty and have concerns about their health and well-being. For SMEs, this has led to a sharp loss in customers and revenue. In short, the demand curve is flat.
Therefore, the biggest challenge for business owners is to attract consumers back into their businesses. To do so, they must explore innovative ways to market their products.
Equipping your business with the latest technologies, perhaps focusing on developing an eCommerce model, could be the beginning of a new era for your SME. While no single business owner can turn the economy around alone, you can find ways to attract consumer attention your way and thereby increase demand for your products and services.
3. Adopt New Technologies and Digitize Your SME
People’s movements have been restricted and there have been fewer people on the streets. Naturally, brick-and-mortar stores have seen less traffic and a drop in revenue.
In the past, a lack of resources as well as a shortage of willingness kept many SME owners from adopting new technologies. These are the SMEs that are at the greatest disadvantage during this tough period. Indeed, their very existence in in jeopardy.
And these are the SMEs that need to go to work now on utilizing all available means of technology for customer communication, product outreach, and marketing. This approach will allow them to connect with customers with less physical contact, reducing risk for workers as well as for customers.
4. Respond to Changes in Consumers’ Preferences and Behavior
There is no doubt that as the pandemic subsides, SMEs will find themselves in a new world. Everything from consumer behavior, customer perception, and social engagement will have changed. Accordingly, your business must change the ways in which it interacts with customers.
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Customers are far more careful about their health and safety now than they were before COVID-19 struck. Now, many people prefer to do their shopping online. They have discovered that the eCommerce model provides them greater convenience and safety. Smart business owners understand this way of thinking and are adapting their businesses accordingly.
For example, even if you’ve owned a physical retail outlet for decades, you can adapt your store to the eCommerce model. Perhaps you could run your business as a hybrid that accepts both online and offline sales.
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You may need to digitize your business model quickly to accomplish this. Additionally, you’ll need to make your physical location safe, adhering to all new governmental regulations. You may even need to rebuild the trust you spent years developing, by changing your customers’ existing perceptions of your business.
5. Restructure Your SME’s Financials
Of course, your SME needs adequate capital just to survive. You must continue paying for labor and raw materials, as well as maintaining your company’s infrastructure, despite the fact that your revenues are down.
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If you are fortunate enough to live in a country where your government is offering financial support, learn about and take advantage of whatever is available for your SME. You might also consider inviting new investors into your business. Additionally, discuss with your existing investors to see if they can extend their support. These measures can ensure enough liquidity for your business to continue operations until things improve.
6. Upgrade Your Resources
The pandemic has made life more complicated for SME owners, with multiple obstacles on all sides. But as restrictions begin to lift, it is critically important to upgrade your company’s resources. Primarily, focus on acquiring technologies that promote remote work and less physical interaction.
7. Institute More Training
With evolving technologies, owners of SMEs must now train their workforce to effectively coordinate, manage, and control the advanced equipment these technologies require.
Additionally, workers need training in maintaining social distancing and taking safety precautions. Workers also need to understand what they should do in case of a serious health menace.
All of this training will place your SME in a better position to take advantage of opportunities for growth as the situation continues to improve.
Step out into a New World
Strategizing during an unpredictable time can feel overwhelming. There are so many areas that call for your attention. But in order for your SME to survive this pandemic, strive to be meticulous in your planning, accounting for all of the possible scenarios you can imagine. Your planning will ultimately form a new road map into the new world that awaits us all after COVID-19.