McKinsey: The Implications Of COVID-19 On Small Businesses


COVID-19 has transformed our lives and everything in it. While so many businesses have been negatively impacted by this pandemic, it certainly seems that small businesses have ultimately been hit the hardest.

Some of the changes during the pandemic were positive, such as artificial intelligence, digital automation, and cloud computing, which had already been rising trends for many years. But not all the news was good.

With that in mind, here are some of the most effective ways that small businesses are surviving the storm.

5 Implications of Covid-19 on Small Businesses

The Implications Of COVID-19 On Small Businesses

1. Protect Your Staff

As COVID-19 has had serious and ongoing consequences for all of our lives in many unprecedented ways, businesses need to protect their employees, as well as the general public. There are many things that companies will need to consider because business as usual during this pandemic is simply not a plausible option.

Therefore, businesses of all sizes should ensure that all of their staff are fully aware of all safety precautions and that they’re always routinely followed. This includes wearing masks, washing hands, and restricting unnecessary contact where possible.

Ultimately, there is little doubt that during this time of great uncertainty, this virus will have a far-reaching and long-term impact that extends way beyond our health.

2. Engage Your Customers

While consumer demand has obviously been much lower, it certainly hasn’t disappeared entirely. Businesses who are determined to make an effort to engage and reassure their customers will be more likely to survive over the short term.

And “companies that navigate disruptions better often succeed because they invest in their core customer segments and anticipate their behaviors”, says McKinsey.

For more stability over the long-term, small businesses should start identifying possible opportunities for growth by targeting other segments and assessing the market as a whole. Special offers and discounted items are quite often very effective methods of engaging and incentivizing customers.

3. Ensure Sufficient Liquidity

While many challenges ahead are overwhelming, there are things that small businesses can start doing now so they are ready for whatever comes next. Across all industries, small businesses need to be providing better customer service while also keeping costs low for improved cash liquidity overall.

As McKinsey says, “for the critical variables that will affect revenue and cost, they can define input numbers through analytics and expert input.” Simply by identifying variables in scenarios that trigger cost and revenue changes, they can then be applied to establish profit and loss modeling, cash flow charts, and balance sheets. These are just some of the more critical processes that can help firms to build resilience while ensuring there’s sufficient overall liquidity to operate at a profit.

4. Stabilize Supply Networks

While supply chain management can be a complex challenge on its own, problems with financing and health-related issues will often only increase the risk of further problems.

So, while “Most companies are primarily focused on immediate stabilization,” says McKinsey, they still must “define the extent and likely duration of their supply-chain exposure to areas that are experiencing community transmission.”

Even if having access to a backup supply chain that’s temporarily more expensive, you should always have a secondary supply option because it might be the difference between saving your business and losing it all.

As for long-term stabilization of supply networks, firms should plan ahead for consumer demand as much as possible to make them more resilient.

5. Demonstrate Company Purpose

While the purpose of most small businesses right now is basically about surviving, there is an opportunity to ensure you leave an enduring mark on your client base with support, empathy, and a little humanity.

Authentic actions will always demonstrate a genuine commitment to any kind of social or fundamental purpose, which can have a long-lasting and truly positive knock-on effect throughout the wider community as a whole.

Remember too that businesses are only ever as strong as the communities that they’re a part of. And many decisions made during this pandemic will tell a story that almost certainly ends up shaping the identity of your company for many years after things get back to some degree of normal.

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Author Byline: Luke Fitzpatrick is a freelance journalist and has been published in a variety of publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Tech In Asia, and The Next Web. He is also a guest lecturer at Sydney University, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. Connect with him on LinkedIn.