Since the very outset of the pandemic, COVID-19 has had a crippling ripple effect across world economies and international supply chains. In every country, businesses are navigating devastating obstacles: detrimental drops in revenue, debt, and job loss. For small and medium outfits, also known as SMEs, the financial turmoil is particularly devastating. And women-owned SMEs are feeling the crunch even more. These women, many of them mothers, report extreme stress levels and minimal support in juggling the multitude of responsibilities.
Ultimately, it is in the power of each of us, consumers and customers, to rethink how we do business and find ways to engage with these SMEs to ensure their survival. Here are a few ways to help:
1. Go local: With a little research, it is possible to find local service providers for almost all businesses. Whether it is agricultural products or produce, office administration or copywriting, it is worth seeking out the small business that will value your business more than any corporate entity. Similarly, the money you funnel toward a local small business is more likely to be channeled back in to other local businesses, so it is a cycle of support that keeps growing.
2. Spread the Word: When you have a good SME experience, make sure to spread the word and recommend the service to friends and family.
3. Support With More Than Just Money: Consider using some of your skills (marketing, tech knowledge, accounting, etc.) to help a small business owner. While your business will always be appreciated, your expertise will also be valued. Some SME owners might be willing to barter with you or trade services instead of direct payments.
4. Make it Easy to Do Business with You: Company comptrollers, regulators, policymakers, and leadership should be flexible in all the protocols and procedures, deadlines and guidelines, necessary to engage with an SME contractor. No corners should be cut or laws overlooked, but show SMEs grace when asking for robust paperwork and huge projects.