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17 Apr 2020

Business Survival Strategies for COVID-19

[Pivot Your Business to Stay Relevant and Realistically Make Money] Having to make way for different strategies, and occasionally shifting operations to address changing trends or demands may be common for your business. 

However, when it comes to dealing with a global crisis that has significantly changed the landscape of purchasing patterns and behavior, it is a whole different experience altogether. 

So how can business owners survive COVID-19? Here are several important strategies that you can’t find anywhere else: 

1. Innovate Around Needs

In all honesty, with the current condition in which the pandemic is transpiring across the globe, it’s hard to determine how long will it take till the situation improves, however one obvious thing we can highlight is that this global health crisis has resulted in a number of innovations by businesses and how that has helped them to continue generating sales. 

Before we start with the strategy, ask yourself these few questions:

  1. Are your products/services still relevant to the current market? 
  2. If yes, what can you do better to provide more value to your customers? 
  3. If your business relies heavily on offline experience, how can you innovate to stay relevant? Or even convert that experience online?

Here’re a few angles of how you can innovate your products/services to fit the needs in the market:

  • Selling medical related products
  • Solving a current issue
  • Bridging the gap between online and offline 
  • Creating highly relevant and creative products or contents

So what did other businesses do? They innovated around needs and the silver lining of this crisis is that you can pinpoint your innovation with these few great examples:

Selling medical related products

The Ordinary, a well-known skin care company under the umbrella of DECIEM innovated by selling medical related stuff through adding hand sanitizers to their range of products


Source of information: Instagram @deciem


Solving a current issue

Aeon’s personal shopper strategy is also solving the current needs for many heads of household, helping them to easily cross off items on their groceries list and cutting down time spent in the supermarket.


Source of information: Aeon Retail Malaysia Facebook


Bridging the gap between online and offline

Orange eSports Cafe and Logitech Malaysia launched Play@home initiatives with promotional packages for gamers. Each package has a gaming monitor with pre-installed softwares, headset and Logitech’s keyboard up for rental of 2 weeks / a month. Appealing to avid-gamers who can’t visit their go-to cybercafe during this period.


Source of information: Orange eSports Cafe Facebook


Creating highly relevant and creative products or contents

Breadtalk made a toilet roll cake which definitely caught the attention of many people.


Source of information: Instagram @breadtalksg


While our social media feed is filled with friends and family updating their home-cooked food, Tealive immediately rides on that trend and releases their bubble tea kit just at the right time. Now customers will have the pleasure of making  their own bubble tea anytime at home.


Source of information: Instagram @tealiveasia
Currently available on FaveDeals


Before the crisis, these businesses rely heavily on sales generated offline, with a little creative boost, they have now pivoted their services around particular needs and trends during this crisis to offer more value to their customers. 

Time is changing, and as we shift to a new way of living that has emerged from a global crisis that changed the landscape of spending trends, your business will need to be able to adapt to these changing trends almost immediately. 

With that in mind, whatever existing products or services you are offering, you need to innovate them to cater to these very specific demands. Prevent from making innovation that will burn a hole in your pocket and cause you more burden in the future. You will need to assess and aim for a realistic innovation based on your existing products or services.


2. Continue Selling and Marketing Online 

This goes without saying that selling and marketing online now should be your main focus. Evidently, although your customers may have stopped going outside, they have turned to the comfort of making purchases online instead. 

So here is your time to get your marketing game on and go all out to market your product. The tip here is to continue to explore online-based platforms and tools that can ideally fit your budget and help you optimize your online marketing strategy. So make use of platforms that you can access to help you increase your brand’s online presence. 

Several examples of this include fisherman selling fresh seafood on Facebook, local farmer selling product on Twitter and your favourite Ramadan bazaar going online.


Source of image (from left): Virtual Celebfest, Bazaar Rakyat 

What’s even more intriguing about this is that people seem to love and support it! So don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the budget. Continue marketing online and choose a channel that fits you best.

Another way to market online is to stay in touch with your customers and relevant people in your industry. One notable example for this is Whimsigirl, a Malaysian-based company that is collaborating with local businesses/freelancers/female founders by streaming a daily IG live series called “Everyday Girl Guide”.

The series features topics geared towards benefiting the “Everyday Girl” community during this difficult time and at the same time supporting SMEs and the creative ecosystem. 


Source of image: Instagram @whimsigirldsgn


There are many ways in which you can utilize the internet to your advantage in tackling this crisis, do not limit yourself to only one method of online marketing. Remember that you are currently dealing with a crisis and that in such a situation you need to do anything you can to survive. 


3. Prioritize Cashflow 

The vast majority of small businesses have less than two months of cash on hand to deal with the shock. As sales drop and cash runs low, your main priority right now is to maintain cashflow.

When it comes to this, you have to bear in mind that you need to get your hands on as much cash as you can to ensure that you can cover your business expenses for the next few months. So here are some ways that you can do so: 

Financial aid and support from government

  • Either you’re in Singapore, Malaysia, or Indonesia, lookup for government-based financial aids. 
  • See if your government has plans prepared to support local businesses in terms of employee wage payouts to ease cashflow problems. 

Company cashflow management

  • Revisit your budgeting and try to reduce cost where you can. 
  • Access cheap financing as you will need sufficient cash and you will need a low-interest rate to help you avoid being burdened with a high repayment commitment. 
  • Choose which asset to save and which to sell. This is what assets are for, to prepare you during the rainy season and if you want to survive the coming months, you will have to make necessary sacrifices to keep you afloat. 
  • Discuss with your employees in the leadership position if they are willing to take a salary cut. Although this may seem disheartening but this step is necessary to ensure that everyone gets to stay onboard

Selling in advance to secure cashflow first

  • Give huge discounts and promotions for a limited period to create an urgency so that it will entice your customers to spend more and to spend now. 

The Beer Factory offers cash credit at a tempting discounted price for customers to purchase now and use it later.


Explore more ways to get customers to buy even if your business is temporarily not operating. Consider pre-selling your services online to encourage customers to purchase it in advance. This way you get to earn some sales even with closed doors and your customers get to purchase your services at a cheaper price at the convenience of their fingertips.


4. Participate in a Give-Back Campaign

According to a survey done by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), Fifty-six percent of consumers are happy to hear how brands taking actions to help out communities in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 43% of survey respondents said it’s reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust, while 40% want to hear what brands are doing in response to the pandemic. 

In response to that, several businesses are stepping up to help in their own ways. This includes companies from all types of fields such as JP Morgan, Microsoft, Amazon, Airbnb, Apple, Coway, Jovian Mandagie, Grab and many others that have shown their support to the community by giving back during this time of hardship.


Participating in a give-back campaign not only helps you to improve your brand image during this crisis but also goes a long way towards attracting and retaining customers, which will also contribute to the long-term success of your company.

As we battle a global crisis, consumers will especially be focusing on companies that are helping to alleviate some of the sufferings of the community. It signifies that the company is willing to contribute to the community and not to mention that consumers are more likely to choose a company that stands for a social cause near and dear to them than a company that only focuses on earning profits. 

When in a crisis, everything moves fast, and for a lot of businesses, time can mean a lot of things. Be quick to act and execute to ensure that you will not be left behind in this race for survival. 

What’s important to note here is that, in times of crisis, you have to do what you have to do. Your one key foundation here is to ensure you stay relevant to the market. 


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