Big businesses often have reserves and resources to allow them to tide through tough times such as the coronavirus outbreak Singapore is facing, but small businesses don’t have such luxuries. However, one advantage is that small businesses can respond faster than big businesses. We have put together a handy survival guide for any small business.
Step 1: Stay calm and set up a business continuity plan (BCP)
A virus can spread easily, but fear and panic spread faster. Our first tip is to stop panicking and put on your thinking cap to come up with a business continuity plan. (BCP) Do refer to this guideline from MOM on how to draft a basic BCP, and this advisory from enterprise Singapore for detailed guidelines.
Some common BCP practices:
- Identify essential staff and key processes
- Always bring laptops home so one can work remotely
- Split teams into two, and work alternately
- Establish a call tree and escalation matrix
- Back up IT resources
-Temperature taking and travel declaration
- Sanitise your office daily
- Leave or quarantine policy
While it is ideal for all businesses to always have a business continuity plan in place, the irony is that many small businesses only start drafting a plan during times of crisis. But nonetheless, it is never too late to get started.
Step 2: Ensure productivity during work-from-home.
After drafting your BCP, you would need to execute it. Sometimes, your staff might have to work from home even before a solid BCP is put in place, due to unforeseen circumstances such as a suspected case of coronavirus in the same office building. All team leaders should ensure that their team members remain contactable and set daily work goals for each employee. For employees who cannot telecommute, an immediate back-up plan should be made, and affected stakeholders should be notified. Employers who have employees issued with quarantine orders might be eligible for a $100 per day Quarantine Order Allowance and should check the MOM website for more details.
Messaging software such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Slack, Skype etc are efficient and popular ways to communicate when working from home. Each company should have a dedicated form of communication that complies with security standards, besides email.
Most importantly, have faith in your employees.
Step 3: Show employees you care, to keep them motivated
An unexpected event such as the coronavirus outbreak can be very disheartening for employees, as it not only affects their work-life but their personal lives as well. Employers can show some care and concern for employees by giving out “care packages” consisting of surgical masks, Vitamin C and hand sanitiser.
Employers should be empathetic and allow for flexible work arrangements. According to the Forbes article, research shows that a flexible worker is a more productive employer! Employers can also ensure that insurance policies can sufficiently cover the medical costs of employees if they are unwell.
Step 4: Ensuring payments are made on time
Payments such as bills, amounts owed to suppliers and salaries should be paid on time to avoid penalty fees and complaints. However, the cash inflow might not catch up with the cash outflow at this time, as customers might be delaying payments or simply due to affected business.
In this case, big companies would tap into their cash reserves. Unfortunately, small businesses don’t have such luxuries.
For SMEs, we would recommend them to apply for a short term working capital loan. We would advise against a long term facility, such as term loan since the net interest amount might be higher as interest still has to be paid even when the facility is not being used.
Finaxar supports SMEs in Singapore with working capital loans that would meet their immediate business needs. Avail up to S$1 Million* credit limit that can help your business sail through tough times. A good thing about these facilities is that you only pay on draw downs and you can reuse the credit limit as many times as required. In addition, you can get funds within 24 hours of loan approval.
Click here to learn more, or call +65 3159 3659 for a free consultation today!
*subject to credit assessment