Countries around the world has been locked down due to COVID-19 pandemic and currently taking steps to relax locked down to resume economic activities. Similarly few districts including Colombo was locked down for over 6 weeks and will be finally open to start businesses on 11th May 2010 (next Monday). This has been a major hit for most businesses and especially for Small and Medium Enterprises as most of them were not ready with the required infrastructure to operate remotely. Now it’s time to make things right. Below are 3 Post Locked Down Tips for SME entrepreneurs.
Have the real talk with your team.
This must be a difficult time period for you and the company. You must have had to shut down the business for the past 6 weeks and may be you couldn’t generate any revenue. Be open about the real situation of the company with your team. Tell them about your cashflow situation and explain where you stand. If you believe the company is unable to pay salaries, let them know the best you can do. Please remember this is not the time to fire your people. This the time you need them the most.
You may consider few options as follows.
- Ask for a flexible payment structure – Maybe the top level employees including you can consider taking a proportion of the salary for the moment and get the arrears amount as and when the company is recovering. This will help you to ease off the immediate cashflow issues.
- Try to continue paying the low wages – These employees will be struggling more than you do. Try to give priority to continue paying their salaries.
- Delay increments – Be upfront with your team, if you think the company is unable to give any increments for some time, then keep them informed.
Your team is your biggest asset at this crisis. Make sure you earn their loyalty and trust. That will take you and your company a long way.
Establish remote working mechanisms.
It is true that the curfew and locked down will be relaxed from Monday onward. But this is a time where nothing is certain. It is important to get yourself prepared for the worst. Expect another locked down and take necessary action to face it. When the curfew hits us for the first time most of entities did not have time to put the processes in place. Now that you get the opportunity, take the chance and do it.
Following are few things you can consider.
- Try to back up all the documents and required information to a cloud system. Google Drive is a great tool and it’s free. Make sure all you staff transfer all the information and working files to Google Drive or any cloud based system which can be accesses remotely.
- Setup online banking methods – slips transfer, online payment transfer, digital signatures for banking transactions etc.
- Get your marketing team to focus more on digital marketing – social media marketing, email marketing, online trading platforms, home delivery systems etc. Ensure they keep continuous contact with your customer base at any situation. There are many free tools available for you to setup this.
- Set up teams – Create a skeleton team who are most important to continue working and make sure they can work remotely. If possible let them access company work from their personal computers and if it is really necessary arrange laptops for those who do not have them. There are options to even rent out laptops. Other employees can be part of teams lead by skeleton staff. That way it is easy for you to keep a tab of everything.
- Be flexible with working hours – All you have to worry about at this time is getting your work done. Don’t worry too much what time your staff is reporting to work, how many hours they are at the job etc. Pay attention to the tasks to be completed and be flexible.
- If necessary train your staff to work from home and with the required technologies.
It also important to do a complete evaluation of your business model and make changes to go inline with current situation in the world. Business is all about evolving and changing when the needs and preferences of customers change. Follow m page Fintech with Dilu on twitter and facebook to be up to date about the latest tools and technologies available for your business.
Ensure safety and be empathetic.
One of your first priorities is to ensure the safety measures to prevent COVID-19 are adhered to in your work place. You may have to invest some money in this. However it is extremely necessary for you and your team to be safe. Providing face masks, indoor footwear, hand sanitizers, outdoor hand washing facilities, disinfecting surface areas at least twice a day, arrange the work floor to ensure social distancing, shift base work arrangements etc. are important to be in place.
It is also important to be more empathetic towards your team. Listen to your team members and try to understand any difficulties they may be facing. It is important to remember that there were lot of changes took place in people’s day to life style. As a result many of your team members must be facing new issues. Try to be understanding and flexible.
Also be empathetic towards yourself and your business. You may have not achieved your business goals and targets as planned or you may have realized that you are far away from your goals. This is the first time in our life time we are facing a pandemic in this magnitude. You are not in this alone. The entire world is struggling. Your situation is not so different. So it’s ok. Just make sure you keep going forward with your team.
Your business is important. Your team is important. You as an entrepreneur are extremely important. Your contribution to the country’s economy is important now more than ever. Wish you all the best to get this challenging time period and come out stronger than ever.
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