How Can SMEs Respond to COVID-19?

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We’re facing a very challenging time. Many retail shops, gyms, and wellness centers have had to close its doors with lockdown ordinances in place. Foot traffic to restaurants has been dwindling day by day. Professional and home service providers are struggling with mass transportation interruptions. Working with other small businesses, and as a small business ourselves, we understand the struggles that this pandemic brings.

According to Goldman Sachs, “peak-virus is expected over the next eight weeks”, so you need to make sure that you start reigning back your costs and control cash burn as early as now. We too are bracing ourselves for what’s to come so that we can come out stronger after this passes. We’ve listed a couple of other things that you can do to stay afloat through the period.

1. Facebook, Google, and Government Grants

As the pandemic is affecting people on a global scale, both the private and public sectors have banded together to provide support for those in need, like front liners, at-risk families, as well as small businesses (who help keep the economy afloat). One small business grant for example, is the $100 million grant (in cash grants and ad credit) that Facebook recently announced to help 30,000 small businesses in 30 countries around the world during this period. Check it out here for more updates and to see if you can qualify.

Google has also announced that they are committing $800+ million towards small to medium businesses, NGOs, health organizations and governments, and health care front liners. $340 million from that will be seeded as Google Ads credits for SMBs to help them stay in touch with their customers. Check out the full breakdown here.

For our readers around the world, we suggest looking up funding options provided by your government. For our readers from Singapore, Hong Kong, or Malaysia, below are some URLs to various government grants and news articles that you can check out:

Singapore SME Go Digital Plan

Singapore Access Financing - Enterprise SG

Singapore COVID-19 Resilience Budget

Singapore Productivity Solutions Grant and Enterprise Development Grant

Hong Kong Funding Schemes for SMEs

Malaysia Economic Stimulus Package 2020

This page will be updated as we get more information regarding the government grants

2. Connect with your customers

Suddenly, people everywhere have become connected and united by the shared struggle against the pandemic. As a business, you should check in with your customers, while also letting them know how you’re doing. Many businesses have taken to their Facebook and Instagram pages to provide their customers with regular updates regarding operations during this time. Some have used their profiles as a platform to educate people and provide tips to get through the pandemic. Others have taken the opportunity to share good vibes, showing off their 100-person Zoom calls, and funny work-from-home memes. Take this time to genuinely engage with them on a personal level, experiment with live streams, free webinars, or maybe just push out more relatable content. Don’t be afraid to continue running online ads especially if you provide goods and services needed at this time, but adjust your messaging and approach your customers with empathy instead of hard-selling. Your customers want to know that the brands they love are as human as them too.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new technologies

A COVID-19 day can feel like a whole week, where things change drastically overnight. And unfortunately, no one knows how long the situation will last. You want to future proof your team, so right now would be a good time to experiment with and adopt new technologies that can empower your team to easily adapt to what may possibly be the new normal. Why not try a new online productivity softwares, or subscribe to more sophisticated conferencing tools?

4. Empathy towards your team

Especially if you’re running a multinational company, or working with a remote team. While we all share in this struggle, each team member’s situation can differ from one another. At Cardinal Digital, we have teams based in both Singapore and Manila, but we understand that the precautionary measures that we need to implement per geography will be very different. Make yourself aware of the individual situations that your team is in, and see what you can do to provide additional support for them. Unless you’re running a team of robots, remember that you’re running a team of people with very real struggles.

But if you are not a small business and yet found yourself on this page, here are a couple of things that you can do to help your community:
Wherever you are, you can still help make a positive impact in your community

1. Stay at home! If your job doesn’t call for you to be working in the front lines, the simplest thing you can do to help is stay home, and avoid social interactions with others. While some of you may not be worried about contracting the virus yourself, the tricky thing about this is that it can go undetected in many people, making you unknowingly a carrier. Do your part in slowing down the spread by staying home.

2. Donate to help frontliners. Many NGOs and charities allow you to donate through online banking, that way you can easily help others without having to leave your home. For example, you can donate to WHO directly on their website, but we also suggest supporting the frontliners in your community (look up nearby hospitals, or medical research labs, and see how you can donate to them).

3. Support local businesses in your community. Those that are still operational during these times. Some businesses have taken it upon themselves to stay open to support your needs, so do the same for them. Order from online stores (some shops have pledged donation of proceeds towards those in need), order food for delivery from open restaurants (maybe consider ordering an extra meal to give to the deliveryman), but also be patient in case there are delays with your deliveries. Remember that a little can go a long way in helping them stay afloat.

4. Stay up-to-date. Keep tabs on your local news outlets (the legitimate ones, including your national Department of Health, the WHO, and news channels) for any community updates. Pay attention to the right sources and avoid fear mongering and spreading unverified information. 

5. Keep your health in check. Being at home doesn’t mean you can deprioritize staying healthy. Make sure you keep your hands clean, stay hydrated, load up on healthy immune system boosting foods (like including fresh fruits, and dark leafy greens), and do more home workouts to get those endorphins up!

6. Empathy. You may be reading this post from the comfort of your home, but remember that there are others who struggle day-to-day not having work, others who have no choice need to show up and do their jobs, others who simply are unaware of the measures that they need to take. Treat those around you with kindness and compassion, educate (instead of shaming) those who aren’t as updated as you. We’ve weathered many storms in the past, and we’ll get through this too. Together.

Further Reading:

https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/resource

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/27/google-sets-aside-800m-in-ads-and-cash-to-help-in-covid-19-fight/

See also:

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