[This is a sponsored article with HSBC.]
Running a business on a normal day is no small feat; trying to do it post-pandemic while the economy is still recovering is even harder.
But if there is anything that the many obstacles of the past two years (such as the pandemic and more recently the floods) have proven to us, it is that Malaysians are resilient.
At Vulcan Post, we’ve heard stories of struggling SMEs with passionate founders who are doing everything they can to ensure their businesses survive.
This New Year, entrepreneurs will want to better balance their personal and professional lives, and while it’s not an easy path, there is a supportive community.
To understand the ups and downs SMBs have faced so far, we spoke to 2 big names in the industry, Shock wave and tiger sugarwho also shared real lessons entrepreneurs can bring to 2022 to improve their business acumen.
Always have a healthy track for emergencies
Andrew Chu, project director at Shockwave, an event management and interior design firm, told us that their day-to-day operations before the pandemic were largely centered around face-to-face meetings, whether with clients, internally. , to organize events, do renovations or site visits.
Like many others, they were caught off guard during the first lockdown. “The first two weeks were spent coordinating and organizing resources to work from home, in order to continue our operations,” Andrew recalls.
However, business remained at a standstill for a long time. Luckily, they had a 6-month lead to tide them over, but the team knew they needed to pivot soon.
During the third to fourth week of the lockdown, Shockwave had a new plan. Host live talk programs and events online, then venture into online conferences, meetings, and more.
Business didn’t really start to pick up until October 2021, but Andrew noted customers and clients are still cautious with spending.
Not to mention that materials, labor and supplier costs have increased. However, to stay competitive, Shockwave is unable to increase their price proportionately. Therefore, the business is still running at a loss.
Still, Andrew and his team will continue to move forward focusing on their existing customers. He predicted it would continue to be difficult at the moment, but thinks his team’s will to overcome it is just as difficult.
While their primary focus will remain their core business in event management and interior design, they will invest more time and money in digital sales and marketing.
No time to rest on its laurels
You would have thought F&B had a slightly easier time during the pandemic, but KS Lu, franchisor of bubble tea brand Tiger Sugar has revealed that was not the case.
In December 2019 and January 2020, they made over RM1.7m in revenue (about 140,000 cups of drinks), but by the time the shutdowns happened, sales had dropped to just 20% of that figure. .
“The MCO periods around October 2020 were the most brutal. The administrators had to inject new funds to maintain operations,” KS recalls.
However, currently, sales are improving and are over the 50% mark, and they are starting to receive about 10 sub-franchise requests per month again.
KS knows this is not the time for Tiger Sugar to let up on all of their intensive efforts thus far, so they continue to cut costs where possible and try to improve productivity all around.
Like Andrew, he anticipates they will face a tougher trading environment due to consumer spending uncertainties. But they won’t be deterred, as KS has revealed that Tiger Sugar will be launching new products soon.
Get the right financial support
Despite the passion of these business owners, finances remain the key to achieving their ambitions.
To this end, many business owners are opting for specific banking solutions to take the worry out of financial management.
As HSBC is no stranger to supporting business owners who are facing small business and personal finance challenges, it offered HSBC merger.
This solution addresses both aspects in one place, allowing entrepreneurs to simply focus on turning their business around.
It offers features such as fee waivers, better rates, dedicated account manager and contact center, access to HSBCnet digital banking portal, and more. Entrepreneurs looking to get started with HSBC Fusion can find out more here.
But financial management is only part of running a business; Putting lessons learned into practice is another major factor in why some businesses succeed while others fail.
From their pandemic experience, Shockwave and Tiger Sugar had some important business lessons to share.
Andrew mainly lamented that Shockwave should have taken the situation more seriously at the time to immediately consider cost-cutting measures.
Maintaining operations at full capacity during uncertain times wasn’t their best decision, but it’s one the team won’t be repeating anytime soon.
That aside, “Always consider embracing change and diversifying your business to spread your risk,” he advised.
From a franchisor’s perspective, KS gave his two cents: “Don’t grow too fast. Explore financing options before expanding using self-generated funds or savings. »
It’s heartening to see passionate business owners like Andrew and KS fight through the challenges, and even more inspiring are the bold entrepreneurs who show faith to launch new ventures.
Every week or so we will see a new company appear in the market in various sectors. For example, some names born out of the pandemic and post-pandemic in F&B include Mori Kohi, ONO, Bricks & Bread, The rabbit holeand more.
These underscore the fact that, although still cautious with their spending, consumers are want to browse and support local brands, old and new.
The nation remains hopeful that this trend will continue to rise, and until then, it will only be a matter of time before our economy is back in full swing.
- Find out more about HSBC Fusion offers here.
Featured image credit: Shockwave / Tiger Sugar