How badly will COVID-19 hit us? Have we prepared ourselves for a time such as this? What can business owners do to stay afloat? Will a mass retrenchment exercise happen? When will this ordeal end?
These are valid questions that we may have asked ourselves in the last couple of days/weeks and honestly, not every question has an answer because there are just so many unknown factors at play.
One question that continually weighs my mind is, “When will we humans ever learn from history?” When times are good, we become complacent, arrogant and laugh at others. When times are bad, we become fearful, uncertain, and even selfish. There have been many crises in the history of mankind, and our true colours show during such times.
COVID-19 is a test for all of us, regardless of our wealth, our race, our status, our language, our religion. Whether we pass this test with flying colours or not depends very much on how prepared we are for it.
The companies we see and hear of today may not even exist anymore after COVID-19, and this is why it is so vital for businesses to diversify and have sufficient reserves for a rainy day. The advantage that a small business has over big corporations is that a small business is nimble, lean, and can quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
Here are 5 ways that you can continue to keep your small business afloat or put food on the table (if you’re a freelancer).
Tap On Available Government Funding
The Resilience Budget that was recently announced by the Government aims to support workers, stabilise businesses, and protect livelihoods. There are a couple of schemes (such as the Enhanced Job Support Scheme and Enhanced Wage Credit Scheme) that your business can apply for. If you are a self-employed person (SEP), you might be eligible for the Income Relief Scheme and Training Support Scheme that can help you tide over this tough time.
Reduce Your Business’s Operating Costs
There are a couple of ways you can reduce your business’s operating costs, and one key thing that you can do is to look at your business’s fixed costs and see if you have any fixed costs that you can reduce or remove entirely to free up some cash flow.
For example, if the rental is a fixed cost that takes up a bulk of your operating costs; you might want to consider downsizing or moving to a virtual office. However, this might not be possible if you run a retail shop or a food & beverage restaurant (and that probably mean you will have to look at reducing your staffing or inventory expenses).
To reduce staffing and/or inventory expenses, your business has to be efficient and operating at an optimum level. For this to happen, you may want to consider automating some of your business processes that can save you time (time is money) and allocate your resources (inventory and staff) more effectively.
Upskill/Upgrade Yourself By Learning A New Skill
With the economy going into recession and an increasing unemployment rate, this is an opportune time to take some time off to upskill/upgrade yourself and learn a new skill. The one-off $500 SkillsFuture Credit top-up (for Singaporeans aged 25 and above in 2020) and an additional $500 SkillsFuture Credit top-up (for Singaporeans aged 40 to 60 in 2020) can be used to subsidise or pay for course fees. Here are some SkillsFuture Courses that you can utilise the SkillsFuture Credit for.
Also, if you are a National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) union member, you can utilise the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) training benefit to defray training costs. NTUC members enjoy 50% *unfunded course fee support for up to $250 each year when they sign up for courses supported under UTAP.
Keep An Open Mind To Whatever Opportunities That Come Along
During these uncertain times, you really can’t be choosy, and you got to seize whatever opportunities that come along so that you can continue to put food on the table. Whether it is going to be a short term work contract or temporary work assignment, do whatever it takes (legally) to keep the cash coming in.
If you have recently been retrenched or out of job and you are looking for short-term, temporary jobs with immediate opportunities, visit SGUnitedJobs.gov.sg
Stay Healthy And Practise Good Hygiene Habits
Health is everything. Without good health, you won’t be able to work, and if you aren’t able to work, you can’t get the income you need to sustain your livelihood. This is why you must keep yourself healthy and practise social distancing and good hygiene habits during such times.
It may seem bleak now, but we will definitely get through this rough patch and see the light at the end of the tunnel!