COVID-19 Coping Strategies for AME Small Businesses

Small businesses are struggling to adapt to the lockdowns being governments are imposing throughout Africa-Middle East to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

One estimate predicts the virus could cost the South African tourism industry alone R200 million and 1,000 jobs.

Of course, as this article in Business Insider describes, many small businesses can adapt their business using digital tools that support remote work, virtual events, eCommerce and so on.

A Small Business Survival Guide

One helpful resource that has emerged is the “The Small Business Covid-19 Survival Guide” an e-book from South African entrepreneur Marnus Brookryk, author of “90 Rules for Entrepreneurs.”

The e-book offers “90 ideas to help SMEs and entrepreneurs survive the epidemic.”

Here are some of Marnus’s recommendations. We suggest you download and read the entire ebook.

  • Adopt a supportive posture towards employees. “If you absolutely have to retrench, first consult with your staff to see if they are prepared to work for lower salaries or are willing to take unpaid leave.”
  • You cannot overcommunicate in times like these. “Record and distribute daily videos to keep your staff updated and motivated. All you need is a decent phone.”
  • Use the quiet time. “It may be a bit quieter than usual, so use this time to upskill your staff through online courses, webinars, or any form of online learning.”

Marnus devotes one section to selling through the crisis. Here are a few examples:

  • “Offer discounted vouchers that can be bought and paid for now and redeemed later.”
  • “If you are not selling online, now is the time to start.”
  • “Advertise on social media. People are spending more time there now.”

Marnus also offers ideas for managing cash and resources during the crisis.

  • “Negotiate with your landlord the possibility of discounting rent or holding off on increases.”
  • “Offer settlement discounts for early payment to your clients.”
  • “Delay salary increases and bonus payouts to keep cash in the business to secure business sustainability first. (Make sure your people understand this – it’s a hard time for them, too).”

Again, these are just a few examples of his suggestions. There are no magic pills available right now. Entrepreneurs will have their skill, character, and judgment put to the test to make it through the current crisis.

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