With the global epidemic of Covid-19 and the ensuing movement control order (mco) here in Malaysia, many SME businesses are facing unprecedented issues not only in their organisation, but in almost all aspect of life. I have been having multiple discussions with various SME owners and everyone is facing difficulties. We are all in this together.
Nobody can tell you what to do or even give you proven advice, and let us be honest, anyone who does claim they are experts and give you advice, they’d have to have lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918. These are unprecedented times and we are facing a global epidemic, everything but the kitchen sink has to be thrown in to it. Based on my experience and multiple discussions, here are 3 small things that i believe SME/small business owners can do and adopt during these troubling times to hopefully help surf through this storm.
Your team/employees are the most valuable asset in the organisation. And in times like these, morale and spirit is low. They are plagued with negative news via social media and will be harbouring thoughts of an uncertain future. Low morale and negativity reign as they will also be adapting to trying to work from home, maintaining a work schedule, distractions at home, etc. As your people have continuously delivered the results pre-lockdown to ensure you enjoy the life you have and a business is going to need the same manpower if not more to turn the graph upwards post-lockdown, a leader should do his very best to keep the talents and have them readied for the upcoming battle.
In these times, the first thing a leader should do is reassure the team by being available and highly visible. How?
Have frequent conversations with the team via virtual platforms, ensure that you are visible. This is an opportunity for you to re-engage your team and keep the team inspired and together. With so many technology platforms available (fb live, zoom, hangouts, team, etc), it is merely a click away to connect with everyone.
Be available 24/7. Make it easy for your team to reach out to you at any time and discuss any ideas they may have. Reassure them that they can reach you anytime. And always remember, keep the conversations positive.
During normal business operations we are plagued with the whirlwinds of work that we rarely have the time to train our people. And to be prepared for post-lockdown/covid19, things are going to be very different. This is an opportunity to intensify training, upskill and equip the team. With many trainers/coaches being more readily available and more affordable online now, coupled with the tons of webinars and online training platforms, theres no better time to learn. Equip the team!
Undeniably some roles may be redundant during this lockdown period, find ways to redeploy or repurpose your manpower. Most people have various skills or skills that can be applied in other sectors of the business. Bring the team together and see where they can help out in the business.
Change before you have to is a popular quote. Well, now we have to. Those who were already geared towards heavy online presence and transactions, and those who were quick to adopt digital transformation, are of course more agile in terms of responding to the current crisis. The rest, well… now you have to. Change and change fast!
Reinvent the way we work, adopt new technologies and new tools, invest in the resources and tools for your team to operate remotely. Invest in digital platforms and systems.
Reinventing is not just about going digital, but also at getting the team to think out of the box. To reinvent the company, to come up with new products and services that can be marketed. To develop more creative ways of marketing and selling. To think of ways to disrupt the current sops, practices, and reinvent how the company functions. Change now.
As these are unprecedented times, these times call for unprecedented thinking. Time to adopt to the changes, think of creative ways to ensure business continuity and most importantly stay safe.