Keep the ball rolling - Interventions for sustaining Small & Medium Business (SMEs) during and after COVID-19
Special circumstances require specific ways of management. Current COVID-19 has hit the world very hard and caused major shutdown of the industry worldwide besides the fact that the majority of population has been forced to remain at home in a lockdown state.
The countries which were digitally advanced have been able to at least to connect the people and businesses though they could not invoke isolation protocols to curb the disease. But this pandemic management requires measures beyond lockdown and shutdown in order to let the businesses sustain and survive.
The Subject Matter Experts worldwide need to jump in and advice the SME business owners and staff. The advice and consultancy could be given around the following points:
  • How to stay motivated after ensuring the safety measures for the home and offices?
  • What tools and gadgets are still available to connect to the customers, suppliers and regulators in the business landscape?
  • What is social responsibility amid this crisis and how can this help in earning credibility in the business circles?
  • How to motivate suppliers, customers and staff to work at home (remotely) and perform the official work, what should be changed at home to create an office environment?
  • How the cash management should be done while it is risky?
  • What are the available opportunities in the market in terms of Government facilities & program for COVID19 stricken people, utility companies, financial and other functional regulators? What can be done to take leverage?
  • Propose through community circles to SMB regulators and facilitators how to support to keep the SMEs safe from the consequences apart from managing thematic helpdesks and advisories?
  • How to ramp up the digital capability and capacity? What are the options, constraints and opportunities?
  • How SMEs can utilize the prevailing situation to build up strategies for the future in terms of digitization, running awareness campaigns alongwith the Governmental and NGOs so that customer, suppliers and their respective staff are more diligent and can come out from the fear zone to the comfort zone and start finding out the ways out.
  • Realizing that one department, community or industry can’t do magic for everything to go back to "pre COVID-19" state. This requires a collective response and preparation.
  • Evaluate and find out the industries and avenues which are open and how SMEs can adapt to contribute to the industrial activities which are up and running.
  • Enhance social connect to know the available avenues, Government policies, regional situation to embark upon with some adaptation in the businesses and associated plans.
  • Find out opportunities available with the corporate sector after their supply chain are interrupted internationally and evaluate if their needs can be met regionally and locally by the SMEs as outsourcing or sub-contracting entities.
  • Call for collaboration to meet the standard and requirements by corporate sector, since with collaboration and pooling resources, the quality and productivity can be improved.
  • Utilizing internet connectivity, social media and electronic media, find out the emerging needs of the society, industries etc and develop plan to deliver them “digitally”.
  • Understand how to handle the panic and fears that is likely to demotivate people and workmen. Arranging counseling and advisory for psychological rehabilitation can help.
Feedback and comments are welcome!
Zubair Anwar
Chair Service Quality Body of Knowledge
American Society for Quality