01 Apr THE SMALL BUSINESS AND THE COVID-19 VIRUS
Virtual Office in Operation
Small businesses, which require a multiplicity of skills to operate, will be hard hit in this COVID-19 environment. Most small businesses have limited financial and human resources. All skills necessary for the effective and efficient running of a small business are not necessarily available in-house, as some of these requirements may be beyond the capacity of the small business owner.
In this environment one of the skill sets that is likely to provide a small business with a competitive advantage is Information Technology (“IT”). Where these skills are not available in-house, which is the reality facing most small businesses that are in the mode of ‘earn and spend’, with no room to accumulate a surplus, the business will certainly find itself in dire straits. Even the option of commercial lending may not be open to them due to their cash flow situation. Such businesses may not be in a position to afford the external IT support that is required for continuity or to move from one business model to another, which is a key consideration for any business at this time. Most of our small businesses on island cannot afford two weeks of no capacity to earn far less one month.
This COVID-19 environment points clearly to key lessons to be learnt. To my mind, the main requirement is adaptability in our mode of operation and our ability to utilise the necessary technology, critical in this time of physical distancing. Yes, we may all have our business continuity plans but since what we are facing currently has been unfathomable and has no precedent, how many businesses can claim to be in a position to implement their continuity plan as is? The numbers are likely to be rather few.
This is clearly a time where it is not only survival of the fittest but survival of those who can be agile, creative and innovative in the shortest possible time. Again, our ability to adapt and do so in a timely manner is critical. It is now the time where it cannot be the same old, same old but the time that calls for boldness, thinking outside of the box and pushing that envelope. Our ability to analyse the situation and respond speedily to the needs of our customer base is a requirement. It may also call for offering services different to what we have been accustomed to doing in the past.
The question is how many of us have the ability, capacity, knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit and skill sets to do what it takes to have our businesses survive. (An opportunity for guidance and support from our Business Membership Organisations (BMO’s). Whilst we are in quarantine in this uncertain time, let us utilise the opportunity to make use of all the material that is available via the internet to enhance our skills and to acquire the tools that will help propel us to the next level.
Let us be strategic in our planning and be totally committed to executing on our plans. A plan not executed is a dream. Execution is key. This time we were caught flat-footed, it does not have to be the same next time around. Let us be prepared or face the consequences. Note to self.
Thecla C. Deterville
Celestial Self Development Centre
FranklinCovey East Caribbean