For many Malaysian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) is taking a heavy toll, with some customers staying away, employees advised to work from home and disrupted supply chains. Meanwhile, some clients may be wary of doing business because of fears that orders won’t be fulfilled.
So, how can you keep your business moving during this time of uncertainty? Read this article for tips to help your company and employees.
Keep communication lines open
Communication is always important, but in times of difficulty, open, honest, relevant and regular communication with employees, customers and suppliers is essential. The fact that almost everyone is being impacted by coronavirus means almost everyone will understand your predicament.
Whether it’s an email, phone call, statement on your website or comment on social media, stress that you understand the anxiety and concerns your stakeholders are facing, then highlight the action you’re taking.
Make it clear you want two-way communication – a conversation with clients, employees and suppliers – and that you’re always ready to listen. Explain that during difficult times, you’re ready to be creative in the way you work with them to keep business moving.
It’s also important to communicate with your bank, lender or shareholders. As well as asking for advice and extra help, let them know if you think you might suffer cash flow problems or you’re concerned you might be about to go into the red.
Support employees to work from home
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, many businesses are allowing their employees to work from home. There’s evidence to show that people work more effectively from home and take less time off sick.
Technology such as Zoom, Skype and GoToMeeting offer an alternative to face-to-face meetings. Workplace from Facebook, Slack, Monday and Basecamp are among other apps that enable collaboration between colleagues working remotely and the management of teams who are now based at home.
Microsoft and Google have offered some of their products for free a limited period because of the coronavirus outbreak.
It’s important to stay in regular contact with your employees who are working from home. You might not be able to have regular team meetings in person, but you can do them online.
In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to keep in regular contact with your people. This will help you maintain morale and engagement.
You can also help your staff stay on top of your business’ finances with accounting software that offers remote working capabilities. For instance, Sage UBS allows you to manage your business’ finances – including accounting, inventory and billing – from home.
Don’t forget to talk to your cyber security provider about any increase in home working to ensure your data is safe.
Seek new opportunities to reach your customers and clients
It’s often said that crisis and opportunity are two sides of the same coin, with coronavirus providing SMBs opportunities to provide new products and services.
Already, some gyms and personal trainers – businesses that are all about physical presence – are keeping in touch with their customers by creating fitness videos on YouTube and offering clients training in their own homes.
Even if you can’t sell as easily to your clients at present time, think about providing them with useful, relevant information and content, and generally keeping in touch. This will help ensure that when things return to normal, not only will those customers be more likely to buy from you again, but you may have a deeper engagement with them.
For retailers, you’ll be looking to optimise opportunities with online sales platforms. As well as Amazon and eBay, you could consider Shopify, Yahoo Store and Magento among others.