Industry Experts Reveal Survival Strategies for Entrepreneurs in COVID-19

industries leaders in Nigeria

With small and medium enterprises grappling to come to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all face a future that is both uncertain and unpredictable. For many startups, the next six months will have only one goal: survival.

For others, there may be an opportunity to focus on how to emerge from the crisis a stronger, better positioned, more valuable business.

Whatever their objectives, we believe businesses must take steps to position themselves for the post-COVID-19 world while taking care of their employees as well as their broader stakeholders.

If you are a business owner operating in Nigeria and struggling to understand the implications of the pandemic on your business and how to survive the unprecedented storm, you are in luck. We have put these questions to industry experts and thought leaders who seem to be optimistic about the present situation.

See also: Be an Apex Entrepreneur – A Letter to Entrepreneurs During COVID-19

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed thousands of lives, worse still, economies of countries are fast crumbling. With the economic implications of the pandemic, Nigeria’s economy might likely take a serious hit. When this happens, buyers’ behaviors would undoubtedly change. Small businesses would need to adapt to these changes to meet new demands.

However, Roberts Yakubu, Sales Trainer, and social media Consultant believes that Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown are not the only problems on the hand of business owners.

“Before it all began, we were already heading into a recession”. Yakubu believes that the recession affects four areas of what makes up the business model for any business: Customers, Value proposition, Value delivery, and Business capabilities.

These models, Jide Ayegbusi, founder of Edusko Africa believes that most tech startups can tweak to meet their markets’ needs.

Chidi Nwaogu, CEO and co-founder of Publiseer, shares Yakubu’s sentiment. “The pandemic has started a revolution on how startups will approach their business models from now on, as they continue their daily operations, they need to adapt and change the way they operate, manage their workforce, and meet customer needs”.Chidi Nwaogu

Revolutionizing the way startups approach their businesses is indeed crucial at this time. This is exactly what experts are pushing for.

See also: Amid Pandemic, Nigerian Small Businesses Re-position for Growth

Bestie Atti, an Online Business Coach and Digital Transformation expert claims that meeting the challenges posed by the pandemic begins with small businesses realizing that the way we live, work, and do business has changed around the world and of course in Africa with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Atti opines that most of what businesses used to know about their customers and business processes have changed and will continue to evolve, rapidly.

Lady entrepreneur Bestie
Bestie Atti

According to her, what this then means is that “business owners must continue to think of new ways to evolve too in their mindset and how they approach solutions for their customers and clients. It can’t be business as usual”.

Entrepreneurs who want to remain in business during the pandemic and beyond must put their customers at the core of their businesses, especially at a time where customers’ needs and wants are rapidly shifting. Businesses not ready to adapt to customer’s needs should then get ready to kiss their startups bye.

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Interestingly, Yakubu shares the same view. He believes that the spending power of buyers will certainly reduce as a result of the pandemic, therefore, buyers will be conservative and after the best bargain. “This will impact the revenue of businesses negatively especially those selling non-essentials. Competition will then force a reduction in prices as everyone will be trying to attract more customers”.

Roberts Yakubu
Roberts Yakubu

When competition starts to force a reduction in prices, startups will have to look inwards and innovate around their offerings.

Talking about innovation, Oluwaseyitan Awojobi, founder of Develop.Afrika, an NGO aimed at reducing unemployment in Africa is a strong believer in innovation as a key for businesses to remain relevant today.  Awojobi states that in remaining relevant, now more than ever, a small business should be innovative. “This is not the time to stop innovating or wait. This is the time to identify the gaps present and solve them if possible”.

Awojobi Oluwaseyitan
Oluwaseyitan Awojobi

Awojobi adds that several needs can be met during this pandemic and startups should think of creative ways to solve those problems.

Solving customers’ problems, Atti believes, should remain a top priority for businesses now. She explains that business owners need to ask themselves important questions like: are my products or services still relevant in these times?  If they are, how can I amplify them? If they are not, how can I take the back-burner for now while I pivot and explore new fields and industries that will benefit my business and customers?

See also: 71 Things to Do During COVID-19 Lock-down

Indeed, every entrepreneur should be asking themselves these questions at this time, and going forward.

Experts believe that startups can take some practical and workable measures to sustain their business through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. There seems to be a wide range of actions and steps startups can take to stem the current tide.

In this regard, Yakubu suggests that businesses should switch to the lean approach while cutting the cost of operations to the barest minimum. He adds that startups should review their value proposition, consider reaching new market segments as becoming digitally compliant and fast becomes a matter of necessity.

Jide Ayegbusi, Edusko Africa founder in Germany
Jide Ayegbusi

Jide’s advice to startups impacted by COVID-19 is to find a way to still engage with their existing customers beyond sales. That way, they can engender and reinforce brand recall during and post COVID-19.

For Chidi, startups should take crisis response more seriously, including risk containment policies and procedures, and business continuity planning. The tech startup founder wants startups to make their business models more flexible, mobile, and cloud-enabled.

Atti similarly believes that businesses should use more technology. She believes that more than ever before, customers are online searching for information and tools to make their lives easier in these times. If businesses are online, she believes it will make it easy for potential clients to find businesses and strikes business deals. In practical terms, businesses should use platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp for Business, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, TikTok, etc. This is because their customers are on these platforms looking to connect with businesses.

In advising startups operating amid COVID-19, Awojobi maintains Atti’s position, “for small businesses to navigate their way through the pandemic, they must leverage technology largely and be open to change. This would mean using digital marketing tools (such as Mailchimp, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to remain visible to their audience and leveraging employee collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc. to ensure their employees are staying connected and productive.

Ultimately, small businesses should start thinking of the future of work. They should start thinking of building organizations that stand the test of time.

In conclusion, despite the challenges small businesses face as a result of the unprecedented pandemic, businesses can survive. Switching to a lean approach while cutting the cost of operations to the barest minimum would see businesses through this period. Startups should also review their value proposition and consider reaching new market segments as becoming digitally compliant and fast becomes a matter of necessity.

Ultimately, small businesses should start thinking of the future of work. They should start thinking of building organizations that stand the test of time.

 

 

 

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