Article by Kelly Chen
“COVID-19 has greatly impacted small businesses”. This is a statement that has been floating all around the news, social media, and our everyday lives for the past 9 months or so. Everyone knows that the coronavirus has caused many small businesses to go bankrupt. But why have some of these businesses survived?
This is what Julia Skupcheko from the Lockdown Economy investigates in her masterclass for the MBA students of the Anahuac Mayab University “Four Lessons from the Small Businesses that Survived the Lockdown”. In critical times like this pandemic, how have businesses that are no longer necessary adapt and innovate in order to survive?
The first lesson that Julia addresses is “How to Turn Your Clients into Your Supporters During the Crisis 2020?” During quarantine, many businesses and services that used to be nice to have are no longer necessary, for example, coaching, counseling, fitness gyms, and catering. People have more pressures to deal with due to quarantine. This leaves these small businesses owners a lot of free time. Julia states that small businesses owners could use this time to keep in touch with clients in order to create a sense of community with their customers so that when things get better, they will remember your business.
There are many ways to do this, for example, Poom Narudee Kristhanin from Thailand found a great way to connect with her clients. Poom is the CEO and founder of the Eureka Global transportation consultancy that does facilitation for groups which is an in-person service. In response to a decreased need for consulting, Poom decided to keep in touch with clients by actively reaching out to them to see if they needed help with anything. She noticed that a lot of her clients were working on COVID relief programs independently and realized that she could help bring these clients together to work on this program as a group. This would help the COVID program become more impactful and help Poom stay useful and in touch with her clients. It is important during these times to actively reach out to customers to make your business helpful and memorable.
The second lesson that Julia outlines is “Why Cooperate with your Competitors During COVID”. During quarantine, it is common to find many entrepreneurs in the same business struggling from the same problems. Many entrepreneurs notice this and realize the best way for them to overcome COVID is to work with their competitors. This action of partnering with the competition is called “cOOpetition” which is cooperation and competition at the same time. Coopetiton can help facilitate the exchange of information, connections, and ideas which is something that is greatly vital for small businesses during the lockdown. Coopetition is also beneficial for the greater good of humanity as collaborating on projects can create a better world. It is important during lockdown to be willing to throw away self-interest for the better good. It is true that some cultures and communities do not have a collaborative culture, such as in Mexico where the economy is made up of 80% business. This means this issue can be complex since not everyone is willing to cooperate and help the competition in a cutthroat environment. In situations like this, Lockdown Economy’s interviews come in handy; they can help you get advice and information from international sources to help you during lockdown easily and efficiently.
The third lesson mentioned is “How to Change your Business Fast During this Coronavirus”. Though being elastic, or being able to adapt quickly, is a fundamental skill that entrepreneurs must have to keep their business alive and flourishing even outside of lockdown, it is a critically important trait to have during the quarantine. For example, Claudia Deken, the owner of the vegan sushi restaurant Plant Based Sushi, opened her restaurant in Amsterdam 2 months before the lockdown. She received a governmental order that all restaurants in the country had to be closed. While most people would have just been disheartened, Claudia however, quickly moved on and adapted: she decided to contact UberEATS and go into delivery. This worked for a while, however, Claudia quickly realized that UberEATS takes a great percentage of profits and adapted again by setting up a WhatsApp chat with their existing customers in order to continue the business. This second innovation that Claudia came up with also allowed her to get into more contact with her customers, which is the first lesson that Julia described.
Finally, the fourth lesson in this video is “What can you do While the Business is Slow in 2020?”. Similar to how entrepreneurs should always be elastic, they should also always keep active, especially during the lockdown. An example of why being active is beneficial is what Dannie-Lu Carr, a coach and founder of Creative Wavelengths, did during the lockdown. She had already made her classes impersonal but was still forced to empty her facility. Lockdown was extremely sudden for her and she had not had time to prepare. She quickly came up with the idea to provide online programs to help future clients. This is extremely smart because it reaches out to potential future clients while keeping in touch with existing clients. She actively ties in all the lessons mentioned above and successfully maintained her business during the lockdown. This shows that there is always something that an entrepreneur can do to improve their business, even in the most economically ruthless times. Though some types of businesses may not have an obvious alternative route to pursue during times like the lockdown, it is still crucial that they are innovative in order to look for the best path to success.
While the video is about how small businesses survived the lockdown, the 4 lessons included are important for entrepreneurs, even after the lockdown: the lockdown has just illuminated the importance of these lessons. The full video can be found here.
The Lockdown Economy is a global non-profit initiative started in May 2020 to help small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic and reactivate the economy. It is registered by the United Nations as an Acceleration Action for the Sustainable Development Goals. Any self-employed professional or small business owner can share their story on the Lockdown Economy. Simply fill in this form https://forms.gle/yiSmwAteB8pgLLeR8.