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Business tips to weather the coronavirus storm 

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Added 24th March 2020 06:19 PM

Based on your internal risk assessments, implement measures that keep your staff away from harm’s way.

Business tips to weather the coronavirus storm 

John Walugembe

Based on your internal risk assessments, implement measures that keep your staff away from harm’s way.

BUSINESS

KAMPALA - President Yoweri Museveni announced measures to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread in the country.

This will obviously have a negative impact on the businesses of many people. What is most unsettling, is the uncertainty that this situation presents for business owners who had already made their assumptions and projections for the whole year.

As a business owner, what should you do to ensure that your venture remains afloat during this crisis?

Protect your employees: The greatest asset of any business is its human resource. This theory will be greatly tested by this crisis.

Will you subordinate the welfare of your staff, to your financial goals or you will be willing to accept losses to ensure that your employees are safe?

Based on your internal risk assessments, implement measures that keep your staff away from harm's way.

Cancel all nonessential travel out of the country, cancel any work-related events that may endanger their safety and keep them informed of the latest developments in this uncertain situation.

Reduce your expenditure: These are uncertain times. It is not clear when we shall get back to normal. 

Indeed, finding a solution to the public health threat will only be the first step. Addressing the knock-on effects of the announced policy measures may take longer to wear off. Consequently, make your business expenses judiciously.

This is no time to speculate, make long-term capital investments or involve yourself in undue business expansion. Spend on the essentials.

Study your contracts: Carefully study all your existing contracts in light of this novel situation.

If you are unable to fulfill your obligations in these contracts, reach out and try to renegotiate the terms. This includes employee contracts, bank loans, and client contracts, among others.

In particular, try to reach a solution that works for your employees. If you want them to accept a pay cut or to put in more time for no extra remunerations.

Seek their consent before making any changes to their existing terms. For those with loan obligations, ask your financier to consider restructuring your loan, if your new cash-flows are insufficient to make your loan repayments. 

Fulfill your obligation: There are many business people who may wish to use the coronavirus restrictions as an excuse to renege on their obligations to their clients.

For example, many young people may have already paid money to hotels or service providers to organise their weddings.

If you are a service provider in this scenario, try to be understanding and offer to provide the service at a later date. The guidelines issued by the Government should not be interpreted narrowly to disadvantage your clients.

Deal fairly with them. If you have to refund money, do it. If you have to provide the same service once the restrictions are lifted, do that, gladly.

Cheating others may appear to be beneficial in the short-term, however, it will take your business nowhere, in the long-term.

Communicate: The health ministry has demonstrated that in a crisis, communication can never become monotonous. The more you communicate with your stakeholders, the more confidence they have in you.

As an entrepreneur, keep your clients, service providers, suppliers and staff informed of any new developments or steps that you are considering to take.

The writer is the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises-Uganda

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