Recently, the Covid-19 outbreak has caused Singapore to close its doors to short term visitors and tourists, close all entertainment venues and limit all gatherings outside work and school to 10 people. This has affected many businesses that are reliant on tourists and travellers for footfall, such as retail, tour agencies, food and beverage and more. All centre-based tuition and enrichment classes are also temporarily suspended.
In addition, with the poor economic outlook in Singapore, we are effectively in a state of recession and consumers are expected to tighten their purse strings, and businesses are expected to take a hit. Singapore’s Prime Minister has mentioned that he does not see the coronavirus going away in the next few months and suggested that it could even be going on for quite some time.
This means that all businesses should be well prepared and brace themselves for the worst, while trying to minimise losses. Here are a few tips to help your businesses during this period of time.
1. Ensuring business continuity while working from home :
Following the increase of DORSCON level from yellow to orange, many companies and businesses have decided to lay out and execute their business continuity plans, such as working from home, splitting teams, or split locations arrangements.
Your business should also set up and communicate business continuity plans to all staff and move as much of the physical meetings to online meetings. Reducing physical meetings will reduce the spread of the virus and can be just as effective if each meeting has a clear agenda and employees are given set goals to meet daily.
There are many business productivity tools and cloud softwares available for businesses to increase the efficiency of working from home, such as Skype, Slack, Xero. Finaxar has an online portal as well that allows customers to request for drawdowns online. You might want to refer to our business survival guide which elaborates more on this topic.
Employee participation and productivity is key, and we suggest that management clearly communicates their expectations to employees. In addition to work from home measures, business continuity plans should include social distancing measures in the workplace and safety measurements such as twice daily temperature checks and mandatory mask-wearing for those employees who are frequently in contact with customers.
2. Digitise your business:
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the crowds on the streets has drastically reduced as social distancing measures are put in place. As such, retail businesses are suffering. However, people still need to buy supplies and turn to online shopping instead.
This is a significant boom time for online businesses, such as online shopping platforms and online food delivery. For example, Foodpanda, said in this article it has been "experiencing week-on-week growth on demand" for its food delivery services since Chinese New Year.
Instead of becoming a victim of this situation, you should turn the Covid-19 situation into an opportunity to learn and increase revenue. To capitalise on this opportunity, you should try to digitise your business. You would need to consider a value proposition for online clients, and determine which parts of your businesses can be moved online.
For sales of simple goods, it can be done by online platforms such as Lazada, shopee, Qoo10, Carousell, or by building your own website. You would need a delivery provider or provide a location that customers can come to pick up items. You might wish to read up more on how to move your business online.
3. Take it online - Consider digital marketing:
To reduce gatherings, all events with more than 250 participants have to be cancelled, based on the government’s directions. Events companies are badly affected, with revenue down 90% from the previous year for many firms, but life has to go on, and a good alternative to physical events is webinars online.
There are several popular webinar tools available such as Google Meet, Zoom, Skype and more. You would need to run a campaign a few days or weeks before the seminar to gather more sign-ups, and then run the webinar using your preferred software.
You should consider generating leads through digital marketing, telemarketing and other channels that do not require a face-to-face meeting. Digital marketing channels include LinkedIn, Google Adwords, Facebook, Instagram, and more.
Most small businesses struggle with marketing budgets. In this period, utilise marketing spends efficiently, with the right communication both your organic and paid channels can have a positive impact on your brand.
The Singapore government has been supportive of providing multiple options for small businesses in the Resilience budget :
The government has set aside a Resilience budget of S$55 billion to see Singaporeans through the tough times caused by Covid-19, and this is expected to last until the end of the year. This budget is intended to keep companies afloat, keep the economy going and preserve jobs, as well as support workers and their families.
All companies can now tap a temporary bridging loan programme, increased subsidies for loan insurance premiums and income tax payment deferments, among a slew of other initiatives. For example, The government has enhanced support levels for the EDG and PSG. As of 1 April, they will be raised to 80%, up from 70% before. The scope of PSG will be expanded to include systems and tools to help SMEs implement safe distancing and business continuity plans.
“There are significant cost savings in the enhanced packages, and surviving companies who are already thinking about undertaking such projects will welcome it dearly”, said Finaxar’s CEO and co-founder, Vihang Patel.
As an SME in Singapore, you should check government web pages to see what support your business is entitled to, be it loans or grants. In addition, you should explore more options for loans. Finaxar provides business loans at attractive rates to support businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
In conclusion, businesses who cannot adapt fast enough to the situation will end up making big losses, but with a quick mind, a sound online strategy, and knowing where to find support such as loans, businesses can minimise their losses during this outbreak that is expected to last for more than a few months.
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.
*subject to credit assessment