The streets are empty, and passersby are missing. No, there’s no Manny Pacquiao fight. It isn’t the apocalypse either (though, for many, it seems like it). The Philippines is in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the government advises billions of Filipinos to stay at home, many businesses have no other option than to close their doors. It then begs the question, how can a Pinoy company survive until the end of quarantine? Better yet, how can it thrive in the middle of a pandemic?
The road won’t be easy, but these ideas may help pave the way to pivot things around.
1. Bring the Office at Home.
The government recommends that most jobs should be work from home. By the looks of it, this guideline won’t change soon. Now is the right time to have the infrastructure in place to make sure operations can continue out of the office.
Businesses can consider investing in reliable pieces of equipment, such as a Xorcom IP phone. This device works like a PABX system, where people can assign specific numbers and extensions to departments. It also allows for internal calling.
The primary difference is this is VoIP. The phone converts analog data to digital. This way, people can send and receive calls through the Internet.
Since the Internet is everywhere, employees can now communicate using domestic and international numbers as if they’re still in the office.
2. Consider Taking a Low-Interest Business Loan
Cash flow will be one of the biggest problems for thousands of companies in the Philippines. While owners can apply for conventional business loans, the interest rates may be high.
An alternative is the Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing Program by the Department of Trade and Industry and SB Corporation. Under this plan, DTI allocates about 1 billion pesos for micro and small businesses that have been operating for at least a year before March 16, 2020.
- Micro enterprises are those that have total assets of less than 3 million pesos (excluding land value) and fewer than ten employees. They can borrow between 10,000 and 200,000 pesos.
- Meanwhile, small-scale businesses usually employ from 10 to 99 people and have an asset size between 3 million and 14 million pesos.
The interest rate is only 0.5% per month and payable from 12 to 24 months. The program also provides up to 6 months of grace period to pay the principal (subject to SB’s approval).
Owners can fill out this application form to sign up. They can submit it to any SB office nationwide or a DTI Negosyo Center.
It may be cliché, but the saying “When God closes the door, he opens the window” still holds true even when the pandemic threatens one’s business or livelihood. A company can only grab fresh opportunities, though, when they’re open to pivoting.
What is pivoting? It is when a business reallocates its resources to another product or service. Examples include Louis Vuitton now producing hand sanitizers or fast food giant Jollibee selling frozen chicken.
Businesses can take the following steps:
- Maximize technology. Use ride-sharing apps to offer deliveries and take-outs. Create a website to allow customers to order. Accept cashless payments, such as Gcash, PayMaya, bank transfer, and credit and debit cards. Maximize social media.
- Revisit the market’s needs. Do the customers still need the same product or service? Do they have the tools to get it? What are the present problems they’re facing?
- Get ideas from mentors and training. Pivoting can sometimes feel treading unknown waters. The learning curve goes down fast when business owners get help from subject-matter experts. DTI, Go Negosyo, and local chambers of commerce provide dozens of training and mentorship programs. Some of these are free.
As they say, it isn’t over until it’s over. Like a true-blue Filipino, businesses can tap on their resilience to survive this pandemic.