Small Business Strategy for Pakistan during COVID-19

This is part of the series Entrepreneuring at Crossroads which is a series of webinars and articles by Cambridge Advisors Network especially for startups and small business owners.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are naturally attuned to managing risk and unknowns. However, the global pandemic COVID-19 that welcomed 2020 has upturned the world and economy as we knew it. While no one has all the answers, and most agree the world will change beyond the crisis, for startups and small business owners, it a especially stressful as they may not have the cashflow or the momentum to withstand a long closure of markets.
However, times when the markets are undergoing change, it is also a time of great innovation and market entry. As Eric Ries of The Lean Startup defined the concept of entrepreneurs and startups:
“Entrepreneurs are everywhere. You don’t have to work in a garage to be in a startup. The concept of entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup: a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty. That means entrepreneurs are everywhere and the Lean Startup approach can work in any size company, even a very large enterprise, in any sector or industry.”
Therefore an entrepreneur may be the best suited to weather the storm, and in fact find addressable gaps in the market. Therefore, this is the time that entrepreneurs should be picking up their strategies and pivoting like crazy. So where are some things that we should be looking at?

First thing first – Stay calm.

It is important that leaders remain calm – for their company and employees, but also for themselves, their families and their communities. A positive and composed leader would be able to take stock of the situation rationally, and be able to motivate his employees so that they continue to be engaged and empowered.

Think about the customer – even overthink

This is the right time to think about your customer and be sensitive to his or her changing needs. Keep them engaged whether you have an opportunity to make the sale or will have the opportunity right after the crisis subsidizes. Also understand, that businesses that empathize with their customers and suppliers in times of their need, will stand with you in time of your need.
No matter what type of company you have, your customers are looking for help and assurance right now. As you’re developing your coronavirus crisis management plan, keep in mind that everyone is being bombarded with messaging noise.
The more value you can offer your customers right now, the more successful you’ll be as we shift to a new way of marketing and emerge from a global crisis that made our world a lot smaller.

Communicate – to the point of overcommunicating

An entrepreneur has built his community of well wishers, team, stakeholders and customers through hard work and time. It is important to make sure that the community stays connected. They should be able to feel that businesses is open for advice or a virtual cup of coffee. While bills need to be paid, and many of us see a shrinking revenue stream, we should ensure that our intellectual and networking assets are safe and secure.
On the subject of communication, there is no alternate to face to face meeting, online channels now provide tools and apps that come quite close. While every business has different needs, here are some common things one can do:
• Do a daily team meet
• Set up zoom meeting with your clients
• Offer webinars and online training
• Do online market surveys
• Offer your services through online channels

Go back to the business plan – plan for long term growth

While businesses are planning their next move, plan for a long view. Plan for long-term growth objectives. This is a great time to re-plan strategy objectives and goals for long term growth.
While, the world economy has taken a back stage, it is the best time to start positioning yourself for when the crisis ends. The reflection on your business plan would enable you to navigate a quicker path to recovery, and if needed prepare you and your team to pivot for success.
• Set new sales projections
• Rethink Supply chains for greater efficiency and build in redundancy
• Renegotiate Supplier and Partners relationships
• Force Majeure Clauses
• If investors are involved, talk to them about subsidized rates

Make smart cash flow trade-offs

We recommend that all startups plan to have a 6 month reserve cash flow at all times. However, in the case that the business at the end of the ready cash, the burn rate would be a big concern for all businesses. Especially when there may not be a Sale in the near future, and salaries and operational overheads are due every end of the month. In this case, it is necessary to manage your cash flows in the best possible manner

Motivate and empower your team

A good team needs to be in the long haul. This ensures that your core team members are there to support your initiatives at a time when new hires would be costly. It would be a core strategy in a business continuity strategy.
• Offer training opportunities to help your team and your company in the long-term
• Consider making vacation policies or work hours more flexible to accommodate employees whose kids may be out of school, for example.
• Involve your team in “back burner” projects or things you’ve put off because you were too busy before.
• If your team is working remotely, make sure to check in with them often. A virtual daily coffee or 15-minute meeting to see how everyone is doing can be vital to your team’s mental health and well-being.


In the end, remember that everyone is going through the same crisis. Shift your mindset from being a victim of a circumstance to being a part of the solution. In the end, this is out time to take the opportunity to think differently and be prepared to be human.

More Resources:

For more resources and ideas, we did a webinar recently on how to reinvent your organisation for 2020 and beyond You can access it here:


Happening Now at 4:00 PM! CAN WEBINARSENTREPRENEURING AT CROSSROADSREINVENTING YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS FOR 2020 AND BEYONDDate: 16th April 2020, 4-6PMThrough this webinar, Azhar Rizvi, serial entrepreneur and author of the book Entrepreneuring Pakistan, helps you rethink the future in terms of the rapid changes that are happening on the ground and helps explore how we can refocus teams, products, services, customers around us to remain relevant and build a positive future lens.For recording of the lecture and additional resources register Now: Zoom Login Facebook Live go to:

Posted by Cambridge Advisors Network on Thursday, April 16, 2020

To access additional links and reading material, register for this free minicourse:

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