With the local lockdown extended until the end of April, small business owners must now focus on finding innovative ways to ensure their survival. What is clear is that the economy will need a kickstart to get small businesses active again. No company, irrespective of size, can say they have not been impacted in some way or another.
Fortunately, government has introduced several initiatives to help mitigate against some of the costs – direct and indirect – stemming from the pandemic. But SMEs still need an operational plan to restart as quickly as possible.
For our part, the Preference Capital Group will introduce new products designed to provide the funding support needed to get small businesses going again. However, planning for the support remains a challenging prospect given the uncertainty and fluidity of the state of the economy.
Planning for the future
Recovering from the month-long lockdown is possible with the right focus. Anything longer may become more challenging for certain businesses. In some sectors, it has now become a waiting game but owners must not be paralysed by the uncertainty of the future. Instead, their attention must turn to reinventing their business models for the different scenarios that may present themselves after the lockdown.
Restaurants as an example. Even once the restrictions are lifted, people might be hesitant to go out and socialise in public places. Some establishments will rely more on takeaways and online deliveries. But this will be a challenge on the high-end side as some might not be interested in spending over R1,000 for a meal and having it as a take-away.
Whether it is in food, clothing, or another industry entirely, the SME of the future will look vastly different to the one prior to the lockdown. One thing is certain, every business must be technology-enabled and mobile-led.
More practically, SMEs must examine ways to reduce their operating costs to survive. As part of this, it is essential to engage landlords and financial institutions to come to payment arrangements on leases and loans. It is about having funds in place to survive for as long as possible while still being able to retain staff.
These honest discussions will be vital for all stakeholders to understand the plans the SME has in place to recover post-lockdown. Ignoring the problem is the worst option any small business owner can do. He or she must take a fresh look at understanding their business and identify what is needed to get back on their feet even if that means repositioning the company in a different way. It cannot remain business as usual.