We all are aware that this pandemic has not only caused suffering globally but also has led to loss of life at a large-scale. It can be termed as the largest public health crisis in living memory, which has also generated a major economic crisis, affecting production in many countries. The clampdown on economic activities imposed due to coronavirus has choked vast numbers of businesses, especially MSMEs, i.e. the micro, small and medium enterprises. In India, there are an estimated 63.3 million MSMEs involved in non-agricultural economic activities. This tenders to employment for 110 million people (approx.).
In these unprecedented times MSMEs require prudent planning to manage business and finance. In this regard, there are many programs which can be adopted.
Method 1: Be Proactive
For FY21 and another three financial years, map your business cash flows under different scenarios. For example – If business recommences in Sep’20 at 50% of revenue or in Dec’20 at 80% of revenue, then you must account for what the overall cash flows would look like. MSMEs should converce cash and reduce leverage wherever possible.
Method 2: Negotiate Fixed Expenses
Always be keen to find any possible savings by re-evaluating all fixed expenses. Be willing to renegotiate with the vendors for a discount, waiver or deferment of payments. Vendors today are happy to renegotiate rather than lose a good customer. Renegotiate office rentals; think of sub-letting your bigger office or moving to a smaller space to augment your cash flows.
Method 3: Managing stakeholders
Always be supportive of your stakeholders and stay in regular touch with them.
Method 4: Reinvent Yourself
Once the market recovers, explore newer ways to serve your customers. Always ask yourself questions like – Is there any vertical or horizontal diversification opportunity? Are there any strategic tie-ups possible? Any new geographies you can serve? Any products you can launch? This lockdown has given opportunity to re-invent and strategise like no other.
Method 5: Develop Teams
Encourage and build your teams and use this time to reskill/ upskill & prepare them for the new ways of working in the post-corona world. Always pay their salaries on time and check on their social, physical, and emotional well-being regularly.
Method 6: Think Smarter
RBI, In India, has announced a 3-month moratorium on working capital limits and term loans, but one needs to make an informed choice before availing it. If you can arrange the EMI, do not opt for a moratorium. Because the higher costs involved in terms of moratorium interest isn’t worth the benefit.
Method 7: Pay Your Bills Only When They Are Due
Think logically as there’s no reason to pay invoices before time when you may need that cash for something else. Instead, set up automatic payments a day before they’re due to make sure they arrive on time. This will make it easier for you to track your cash flow and know exactly when payments will be made.
Method 8: Managing Inventory for Exporters
Export Businesses can use some help with inventory management. In India, during the Union Budget 2020, Sitharaman proposed building warehouses at taluk/ block level. Economy would receive tremendous profit if the government allots subsidised warehousing to exporters while figuring out the supply chain side of things.
Method 9: Accept the Change, as its the only Constant
Technology has now become the backbone for the very existence of most MSMEs. Earlier, it was termed as a “good to have” unlike today’s scenario. Outsourcing teams via technology, flexible workforce, etc. are becoming a viable option as many innovative staffing solutions are coming up. This will pluck the loopholes and increase the efficiency of the firms. This has also increased access to consultants & mentors, whom MSMEs were not accessing earlier preferring to hire in house, even if they were not bringing in the right mix of skills.
Method 10: Suit the requirements by Agile Manufacturing
Businesses are forced to explore how to use infrastructure differently as health and home have become the center of our existence. First, capitalising on their loyal customer base and secondly, accordingly tweaking the product mix, would be their best bet. In this case, companies who have been agile have aced the curve. For example – Swiggy & Zomato shifted its focus to grocery deliveries, Dyson to ventilators and Spotify to offering deals on podcasts. All this ensures that their clients remain on the app and get the delivery of what was essential at that very point of time.
It is important to facilitate MSMEs in their quest to scale-up adoption of digital interventions in ongoing pandemic world. Technical support and capacity building through upskilling programs and extensive training will generate employment, which is pivotal amid this crisis. Above methods will foster the growth of these enterprises to engage successfully in global supply chains and will not only drive job growth but provide broad economic value and benefits. So, assisting them to expand through global supply chains should be a top priority, as they are capable of driving economic development, job creation, and foster innovation. After all, a sound economic future for any country will automatically translate from a resilient MSME sector.