The COVID 19 pandemic hit Kenya in March 2020. There was a curfew in place and government directive that employees should work from home and generally stay home. Three months later it is of course not sustainable to keep everyone home especially business people most of who need to trade to keep afloat.
Essential business continued to operate. Most business had to become innovative and either reduce their scale and/or adopt innovation to meet their client needs. Many businesses are said to be operating at 30% or less. I spoke to a fellow entrepreneur who managed to break even in June and expects a positive growth moving forward.
Some of the lessons learnt during this COVID Pandemic are;
- Use of technology
- Force Majeure clauses in contracts
- Good relations with employee
- Good Relationships with suppliers, financiers, partners
- Prudent spending and budgeting
- Non- monetary Motivation of team
The economy is slowly re opening and business is slowly coming back to business. However, it will be business unusual. There is a new normal. All businesses have codes and requirements to operate and with COVID 19 each sector has to abide by a new set of rules to keep safe from COVID 19.
Generally, to operate a brick and mortar business each establishment is required to put in place the following measures. The Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development has made some Standard Operating Procedures in place as follows;
- Designation of staff or teams responsible for in-facility enforcement of compliance with the guidelines (committee or single staff depending on the establishment)
- Social distancing amongst members of staff and as well as customers/clients; maintain a physical distance of at least 2 meters (6 feet)
- Regular hand washing using running water and soap. This is a sure way of minimizing many other communicable diseases besides COVID- 19. In the absence of hand washing facilities, use alcohol based hand sanitizers. Use of gloves does not replace hand washing.
- Disinfection of surfaces such as tables, chairs, counters, tools and other equipment regularly.
- Donning of masks whenever in public places including work places.
- No handshaking / hugging as a means of exchanging greetings
- Proper management of waste arising Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) such as used masks and gloves
Source: Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development www.industrialization.go.ke
Most of the above protocols and any others required of particular industries will cost the business. What justifies this cost?
The above protocols while helping keep the business human resource safe also help boost confidence of the customers and clients. However, until this pandemic is under control the directives to Keep Safe are both a safety measure and Public Relations Strategy. T conveys the message that you care about your customers and employees wellbeing giving your business a human element.
Leveraging on Technology
The costly nature of the above SOPs also help the business person to automate and use technology for more activities. The use of internet and automated platforms to access and provide services to customers is more and more favorable.
The need to integrate digital payments in the business operations is also a strategy to keep customers and staff safe. Many businesses need to integrate the digital payment option in the sales cycle. The advantages of this is that;
- Reduced book keeping as the system records all transactions
- Accurate records
- Easy access to financial information required e.g. cash flow, sales, expenditure etc.
- Easy compliance with tax requirements
- Easy to audit
So while COVID 19 has been a challenge it has also prove to be an opportunity for business to operate. This will create more opportunity for small business who adapt faster. Further startups have an opportunity to compete as the platforms are now getting more and more even. The market place has now moved to the internet.
Even during this pandemic, the building blocks of any business still remain the same. How we create, manage and access them may be different. Profit. Cash is King. Customer Rules. Employees. Sales.
What measures have you taken to make your business compliant and viable during COVID 2019? Let us know in the comments.