Lidia Paschuk, Head and Member of the Supervisory Board of the SME School

“Is quarantine about threats or opportunities?” Lidia Paschuk, Head and Member of the Supervisory Board of the SME School

Every day I receive a bunch of messages from various important, including government channels. And everywhere there is only one thing… They often report disappointing statistics from around the world about the COVID-19 pandemic, what different countries have achieved in the fight against the virus, how many people have recovered and what is better than ordinary and not-so-citizen citizens can do — stay at home or at maximum opportunities to isolate yourself…

But for some reason, none of those channels talks about what will happen next, what will happen to small business, because it is the driving force of the economy…

The US government has already allocated $2,2 trillion to support small businesses, families and workers who will inevitably suffer or have already suffered from the crisis, from quarantine, from forced shutdowns. But any phenomenon has both positive and negative sides. Let’s try to identify them.

Let’s start with the negative:

  • forced shutdown of the economy. Cafes, shops, beauty salons, service stations, restaurants, entertainment establishments, educational establishments, in fact, all organizations, except for grocery and household goods stores, are closed;
  • full or partial stop under already signed contracts — somewhere quarantined workers, a problem with consumables that need to be brought from abroad, or difficulties with logistics or payments;
  • following the downturn in the economy and delays in doing business, revenues are falling — paying bills, making mandatory payments and staff salaries are nothing. It’s necessary either to dismiss employees or to send to quarantine with preservation at least a part of a salary;
  • logistics has become a problem‚ transport doesn’t work, but mail and delivery continue to work;
  • customers, consumers a number of goods and services have become untimely. If your products and services are no longer in demand, it’s time to think about why and whether to sell what you don’t buy and maybe change the target market.

And there are opportunities:

  • people spend more time online. Ask yourself if your business is online — and if so, what it looks like there;
  • usually, the routine doesn’t allow the entrepreneur to build a strategy and understand where to go. Quarantine is a great opportunity to build short-term and long-term strategies, an action plan for the future. Most likely, your plans will not be fully implemented, and you should not be upset. In today’s turbulent world, more than 90% of the largest companies have long failed to meet their long-term goals. But why do we need a strategy? In order to understand in which direction to move and which way was not very successful;
  • analyze, perhaps you can sell and deliver goods needed by customers and quarantined. For example, fashion designers began to sew masks en masse. Maybe it’s worth delivering food or temporarily reorienting production to making napkins? Find a situational solution…
  • quarantine is a great reason to look for new directions and vectors of development. Finally, look at foreign sites and see, perhaps, someone’s experience can be useful. Benchmarking or the search for standards, samples that would like to be similar, no one has cancelled;
  • don’t have your own business, and the employer failed? Think about starting your own business;
  • optimize your own resources — you can finally take an inventory, put in order the documents, review the composition, think about whether you need the available space or facilities;
  • to engage in development: to read books that didn’t reach — to pay attention to fiction and classical literature, watch movies, listen to podcasts, take online courses and look for solutions for further development;
  • and, finally, to spend time with family — this’s always not enough in today’s world.

In a crisis, natural selection clearly works like never before. Not the strongest will survive, but the most agile and hardworking. It’s important to support each other right now by buying goods and ordering services from small businesses. Communities make entrepreneurs stronger. And the crisis is a stormy and disturbing phenomenon, but it gives a chance to find new opportunities for development and new vectors of growth through thorns. Take advantage of them!