The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had an immeasurable impact on the global business climate. Businesses the world over are facing significant challenges in maintaining their operational costs as their turnover figures take a turn for the worse. Amid such uncertainty, business leaders have had to sit down and go back to the drawing board, revising their strategies to reflect the new realities that the pandemic continues to present.

Review internally: Weeding out unproductive workflows

To this end, in an environment where liquidity is tight and where cashflow management takes centre stage, businesses are encouraged to, first and foremost, perform an internal assessment and review of their operations and determine potential workflows and processes that remain by and large inefficient. While start-ups and smaller business structures might have less complex and bureaucratic structures in place than larger firms, which might make such assessments more tricky to perform, internal audits of controls as well as business process reengineering exercises might ultimately be of value-added to businesses of any size, especially as activity slows down and as businesses concentrate on strengthening their core operations for when activity picks up again. Considering approaches such as lean methodology, which has at its core the notions of continuous improvement and respect for people, would be particularly opportune at this point in time.

Assessing the feasibility of future capital projects

In addition, although now may not perhaps the ideal time to undertake major capital projects, especially in certain sectors given their cash-heavy nature, it might be worthwhile to make the most of the slowdown in activity by assessing the feasibility of implementing such projects in the future, through the preparation of the necessary business plans and financial feasibility studies. Considering applying for EU co-financing, available through the Business Enhance Grant Schemes for projects aimed at the diversification and growth of local SME, administered by the Measures and Support Division, should also be placed on local businesses’ agendas.

Supporting working capital and boosting business potential

Business struggling with managing their working capital requirements may require financing to oil the cogwheels that keep their operations up and running. To this end, one option to consider is obtaining financing from local credit institutions. Indeed, the Malta Development Bank’s COVID-19 Guarantee Scheme (CGS) has greatly facilitated opportunities of bank lending by providing guarantees to commercial banks who in turn feel more comfortable with supporting local SMEs with their working capital requirements amidst the sudden acute liquidity shortage they face.

Apart from such support, it might also be worthwhile considering benefitting from one of the many schemes offered by Malta Enterprise, Jobs Plus and other institutions covering day-to-day running costs. These include initiatives that provide co-financing for training received by members of staff from external training service providers as well as tax credits for the purchase of certain equipment and for obtaining certain certification.

Moreover, it might be the time to boost online presence, offering products not just to local consumers but also international ones, boosting thereby your revenues and improving significantly cashflow. This can be supported by the Measures and Support’s E-Commerce Grant, which provides a refund of eligible costs associated with setting up your online platform.

It is now the time for businesses to start seeing the glass half full rather than half empty. Paving a way forward beyond the uncertainties that COVID-19 has evoked should take priority in the strategy of any business so as to be fully prepared for when local and international markets commence their road to recovery once again.

For more information on how you can apply any of the above to your business, please contact Reece Delia on rdelia@ksimalta.com.

Reece Delia, Head of Business Development at KSi Malta

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