Before the stringent community quarantine and social distancing protocols were put in place, I would have to drive out to the public market to buy fresh foods. These days, a fish and vegetable vendor roams around our neighborhood on a customized tricycle, a megaphone in hand and a bucket of determination, selling the things you need right in front of your driveway. That, to me, is tangible proof that the Filipino entrepreneur is starting to bounce back.
It’s not just fish and vegetable vendors. Many small businessmen are coming up with innovative ways to hot-wire their revenue streams back to life. There are households along our street offering computer rentals for those who need to get connected to work or school. I’ve seen vans and cars parked along sidewalks with tarpaulin signs selling eggs, rice cakes, fruits, face masks, alcohol and even potted plants. The big goto (Filipino rice porridge with beef tripe) stall at the market has started packaging their steaming hot product in disposal containers for take-out and delivery. And just before the rains came, I saw several signages of ice candy for sale pop out of windows and gates.
Covid-19 or whatever disaster comes our way, the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit — grounded on the need to bring food on the table, sprinkled with a tinge of resilience and a spoonful of creativity, will find a way to pull through. Of course it is a whole lot trickier with the restrictions. And not every business will survive, in spite of the over abundance of will power and grit.
This is a fact — businesses will fold but the resilient Filipino entrepreneur will persevere. This is because at the heart of every Filipino entrepreneur is the love for family that inspires them to pick themselves up after a fall, get their head on straight, and carry on.
So how does a resilient Filipino entrepreneur carry on under this pandemic with no clear end in sight?
First, analyze the situation. Read up on the projections from experts and understand the implications to your business operations. Try to get a clearer perspective of the pains and struggles of your customers and consumers. Consider also the pains of your suppliers and employees.
- How effective are our government actions in preventing the spread of the infection?
- Will restrictions ease up in the coming days or are they likely to become more stringent?
- What is the current state of the economy and what are the likely scenarios if things don’t change for the better in the next month, three months, or six months?
- How are the consumers and the general public coping? What are the opportunities that can be exploited? What are the watch outs and red flag to consider?
Second, review your business, your entire operations, the products or services you are offering, your supply chain and ask yourself whether you should PURSUE, PIVOT, or PERISH. Below are some questions that may help you decide.
- Are my products and services still something that people will buy given many are out of work and struggling with finances?
- Is there a way to re-design or repackage my products and services so they add more value to my customers and consumers?
- Are there risks in my supply chain that may prevent me from continuing my operations in the short and long term? Can I manage these risks?
- Is there a way to improve my operations and cut cost without sacrificing quality so I can continue the business?
- What are ways I can bring products and services to consumers who are not able to go out of their homes?
- Is there something I can do with my idle equipment, tools, and raw materials to generate income?
- What else am I good at or passionate about that I can consider making a livelihood out of?
- What other livelihood or business opportunities are out there for me to consider?
When you get to a decision, take the third step — analyze, study, evaluate, review it all over again.
- What are the implications to my finances if I take this course of action?
- How do I execute this? What are the steps I need to make?
- What are the risks? Can I manage the risks?
- What will happen to my people, my equipment, my inventory?
- What will my existing loyal customer think? How would they feel about my decision? What will they do?
Finally, when you’ve fully reviewed your decision, challenge yourself to think about the potential problems that may arise because of it.
- What if the situation changes for the worse? What if things improve? Will there be any repercussions to me and the decision I made?
- What are the challenges that may come up along the way?
- What are the best-case and the worst-case scenarios?
You would find that going through these steps will give you a better perspective of where you and your business stand. If you can find someone to discuss this with, that will be better. It is almost always helpful to get another person’s objective perspective.
Understand also that as a resilient Filipino entrepreneur, the goal is not just to bounce back but to bounce back better. Now this can mean a lot of things. It can even mean closing shop now so that you can build a better, more resilient one later.