Tips for SMEs Coping with the Pandemic

The new normal alters the landscape of businesses and organisations. One report by The Economist states that the pandemic is here to stay. As bleak as this sounds, there is no time to waste on doubts and fears. It is crucial for businesses to adapt their practices or face massive repercussions.

Picture the pandemic as a fierce storm that hits the ocean—the impact results in a chaotic scene filled with crushing tidal waves and relentless lightning. 

Large established businesses such as MNCs will be the reinforced cruise ships, trawlers, or aircraft carriers. In contrast, SMEs are the rafts or speedboats stuck in the tempest, quickly capsizing without a proper detour.

The reason for this disparity lies behind the unique structure of workplace culture in SMEs. For SMEs coping with the pandemic, these fledgling businesses lack the resources and financial capacity to withstand such an unforeseen obstacle – which throws everyday operations way off course (even under long-term business continuity terms). 

Keeping an SME afloat during a global crisis means revisiting its fundamental elements and redefining processes according to current demands. Here are some tips for SMEs coping with the pandemic.

smes coping with the pandemic

Staying Positive but Realistic

The business world is fraught with complexities (some noticeably worsened by the pandemic, such as global supply chains). SME leaders should not invest too much thought in previous outlying successes. The concept is comparable to winning the lottery – luck and chance sway their outcomes. A large volume of product sales due to novelty reasons is impractical as a yardstick for success. 

Instead, SME management should focus on workable or repeatable targets like growth potential and employee satisfaction to continually improve workplace culture. 

Business leaders should consider a business plan/structure that is highly adaptable and constantly evolving with the times. 

The only way for SMEs (which usually face resource shortages) to last through immediate challenges is consistent effort. A flexible business structure powered by constant innovation will ensure that SMEs stay relevant despite technological and social changes. 

Cyber Protection 

Data has overtaken content in many practices within workplace culture by optimising decision-making processes based on accurate information. 

Modern APIs and data management systems tap on public Cloud networks and similarly accessible channels to facilitate the data transfer. Unfortunately, this advantage accompanies data breaches’ risks, a costly problem that most SMEs can ill-afford. 

Big businesses have in-house IT teams that protect employees and customers from malicious attacks. However, hiring an in-house IT team might be too costly for smaller companies. 

SME leaders should outsource comprehensive IT support from trustworthy third-party experts to ensure their systems updated and safe from external threats.  

The pandemic has resulted in a rise of phishing and ransomware attacks by malicious actors impersonating as WHO and healthcare officials. SMEs must seek adequate IT security from managed services while raising employee awareness of cyber hygiene to avoid increasingly sophisticated data breaches. 

Purposeful Employments

Ultimately, a successful SME or any company relies on the strengths and efficiencies of its team. Hiring processes should be transparent to ensure a healthy working relationship between the hire and the company from the get-go. 

Engaged employees will stay committed and go the extra mile for the SME despite challenging times. Poorly managed relations could lead to employees jumping ship in a heartbeat when a more attractive opportunity arises during the “storm.” Employees need to retain a sense of belonging with the company during uncertain periods. 

Employers can achieve this by presenting a clear breakdown of each role, including details on compensation, career advancement, and skill development opportunities. Modern workers will be more likely to exceed expectations if a position provides work-life balance and a strong sense of purpose.   

There is no saying when the pandemic will end, but the smallest changes in an SME’s structure can redirect companies away from the unrelenting storm and towards a brighter horizon. 


StrengthsAsia has helped many individuals and corporate clients throughout the region, empowering leaders with breakthrough experiences for both leaders and followers. If you wish to learn more about the Strengths Leadership Program, please reach out to us here.

A devotee at the altar of language and a celebrant of expression. Laurenzo has written for various SMEs, MNCs, startups and international brands over the last three years. He specializes in topics of psychology, lifestyle, employee management, and digital trends.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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