What Small Business needs to do in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. By @ChinaksChris_

What SMEs needs to do during the pandemic?

Back to the topic, which is "What SMEs needs to do during the pandemic?" 
I will explain just two keywords that form the topic and they are SME's and Pandemic.

•SME's stands for Small and Medium Enterprises.
•SME's can be said to be companies that have less than 100 employees.

•Pandemic is a global outbreak  
But for this chat and for easier understanding I will tweak the topic a bit to "What Small Business needs to do in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic."

Here are my 8 points👇🏾👇🏾

1. *UPDATE and UPLOAD* - This pandemic provides a good opportunity for businesses to do some re-evaluation; ask questions about how to improve efficiency after this blows away. This means that customers and employees must be up-to-date on the business plans and direction as it changes to meet market demands and different realities. Businesses must take this time to document/update all of the unwritten policies, processes as it involves the business as a whole. 

Another important part is uploading information databases onto any of the cloud systems. (G-suite, Dropbox, Salesforce, etc) The pandemic has forced many businesses to go digital and having as much of your information saved online is critical so that anyone who needs it can have access at their convenience. Digital transformation is a thing and we need to adjust as soon as possible. The quickest way downwards for any organization is to lack accurate data on policies, structural adjustment, and customer information which often translates to poor strategy execution when forecasting for the business and its future. 

2: *BUILD SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE* - The use of digital platforms has been on the increase during this period and very rightly. Businesses are trying to gain market share and are competing for audience attention. Beyond ensuring that you have an active online presence, what is key is focusing on the platform that targets your audience. As a small business, you cannot be everywhere because you most likely do not have the resources (finance and manpower), so what is advisable is to “go deep and go wide.” Find out what platform(s) your audience congregate and create highly engaging content and begin to build human interaction.

NOTE: You can't be a photographer and not use Instagram. Engage with your followers with valuable contents it's not every time you post about your business. Help as much as you can, do giveaways, ask Trivia questions, etc

3: *REVAMP YOUR BRANDING MATERIALS* - Nothing tells the story of a business as much as its brand materials. These materials include brand logo, message fonts, colours, design layouts, tagline, colour palette, and all the marketing and promotional materials, letterheads, signage, etc. These, as we know amongst other things, will aid in giving your company an appeal in a very attractive way.  With adequate feedback through communication with customers and your team, you can birth something that will keep your target audience glued to your brand.

4: *ENCOURAGE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT* - The success of any business lies with its people. As a business, the importance of professional development for employees and ones self cannot be overemphasized. Given the current reality where non-essential workers have been forced to work from home or take unpaid leave, businesses should encourage employees to take advantage of this ‘opportunity’ to develop themselves and build in-demand skills. There are a lot of free online courses remember personal development should be an ongoing process that continues throughout an individual’s career.

5: *BUILDING YOUR CONTENT MARKETING*  - Every business has a story to tell; journey, challenges, learnings, insights, and general experience. If there was ever a time to share that story, the time is NOW.

Always have it at the back of your mind that VALUE is the number 1 magnet in business and in Content Marketing it is arguably the fastest way to give value.

For SMEs, especially service-based SMEs CONTENT MARKETING is infinitely cheaper than expending resources on core marketing.

Note that you can decide to do an ebook if you are good in writing or a podcast for audio that can be shared on WhatsApp for instance, while for videos, you can launch a webinar, live session on Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube) or record video content, and share on your platform. These are also called digital products.
Remember when you establish yourself as an expert in your industry by giving out the right information, potential clients and customers will inherently trust you more and are likely to respond to you more warmly.

6: *PREPARE A SHORT-TERM BUSINESS FORECAST... but also establish longer-term procedures and stick to them* -  This old adage is true, by failing to prepare you may be preparing to fail. In the immediate term, a cashflow forecast modelling the business over the next 2-3 months will not only help you prepare to mitigate the effects of the virus but will also be important to maximise the chances of success in any contract renegotiations or new financing.

7: *REDUCE CASH OUTFLOWS* – Seek to negotiate the terms of key contracts. If you collected a loan from a bank it's time to renegotiate the terms and conditions of interest.

8: *SEEK OUT NEW FINANCING SOLUTIONS* - A fall in revenue can make it difficult for businesses to service their existing debt obligations. Speak to your finance providers – often, the bank will be far more sympathetic if it is involved from the start.

This list is inexhaustible but these pointers can guide you to other areas that directly impact your business. In every dark cloud, there is a silver lining, the lockdown may just be the silver lining your business has always wished for.
Remember to put a human face to your business, reach out to your customers via email, calls, SMS and engage them on your social media pages.

Kindly note this talk was prepared for ONE VOICE INITIATIVE FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN EMANCIPATION (OVIWCE) Lagos chapter WhatsApp group.

OVIWCE is a youth-led volunteer driven organisation established in Nigeria in 2016. OVIWCE works to end extreme poverty, preventable diseases and other social issues through advocacy and campaigns that call for the emancipation of women and the empowerment of children and youths, particularly in Nigeria and Africa.

Ezeji Uchennachinaka Christopher prepared this presentation and you can reach out to him on any of these social media platforms: 

I am Ezeji Uchennachinaka Christopher, a certified digital marketer by Google Africa and an email marketing expert certified by Hubspot Academy and a brand influencing marketer on social media.

I am your go-to person on anything digital be it Social media accounts Management, Strategies for your brands, SEO and SEM, Google ads, websites, digital marketing consultancy etc.

Research source: business day.ng, lexology.com and nairametrics.com