By Lazar Delorenzo Charlton
The entire Bahamian populous is currently feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but none more than the mortar that binds the foundation of our economy – small businesses. As is always important for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, it’s more important now more than ever to learn how to pivot and evolve in response to the temperature of the country’s economic climate. MSMEs represent about 98 percent of all registered companies in The Bahamas accounting for 20 percent of all turnover, but the knees are buckling for the micro and small entities most.
It’s time to regroup
Many people underestimate the mental stress we’re incurring during this period, especially the business owners who also have much to lose. Now is the perfect time to pay extra attention to self-care and be more in tune with the needs of your team members. Are there budget friendly changes you’ve always wanted to make but haven’t had the time? Perhaps there’s a disgruntled employee that needs to have a conversation. Is your business model connecting with your target market? It never hurts to take stock of all of the wheels and cogs of your business machine, even if in this case, may be coerced.
It’s important to stay connected
Someone once told me that running a solid business that stays connected to your target market and beyond is like being in one room of a house, and shouting in that one room. If you want your voice, your message, to reach the other rooms in the house, you have to make sure and shout loud enough so that it echoes through to the other rooms to get your voice heard. Your business is your voice. You need to make sure you continue to be heard by everyone.
Reaching out to other business owners is a great way to stay connected. Finding ways to assist each other may prove a great asset in the future. Then there’s social media. Now’s the time to step up your game. Keep in touch with your customers. Get ahead of them and answer any questions they might have when they post on your profile immediately when you get the notification. In addition, seeking out the social media platforms of other favorite or famous small businesses is a great way to learn no-cost tips on how to make your business more attractive and get some traction with shiny and new marketing initiatives. It’s also a great idea to get involved in social responsibility based organizations. Notwithstanding its very important to strengthen bonds with your local community, that same community more often than not translates into the support system of your business.
Planning for the future
Not every business is lucky enough to be worry free for a period if business operations were to be forcibly halted for a time. It’s important to use this time to safeguard, if you can, against feeling trapped by any unforeseen impediments to operations. Hurricane season is now knocking on our door. COVID-19 has shown us that the importance of contingencies is paramount. It would be advantageous to formulate plans to continue to nurture your business and take care of your employees should we have another temporary economic shutdown. Where can you make cuts and increase savings? How can you create an
auxiliary revenue stream? How can you empower your team members to act in the best interest of the company if you are not able to and give them ownership of keeping the company afloat? Reaching out to a business manager is also a great idea to put some of the interests of the company into more objective hands.
No one knows when this period will end, but it’s imperative that we remain empowered and ready to burst out of the gate and reintegrate ourselves into the fabric of the Bahamian economy.
Lazar Delorenzo Charlton is currently a freelance public relations manager most notably previously heading up the regional PR of a world renowned all-inclusive hotel brand, and is a partner/business development manager in The New Duff, a Bahamian-fusion food & beverage brand.