Finding Revenue Amid ECQ

January 31, 2022 by

How does one keep cash flowing while businesses are shut in the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ)? With operations severely reduced, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) find it harder to generate revenue and keep their company afloat as each day of the ECQ passes.

UNAWA’s second free webinar focused on confronting these issues head-on by highlighting creative ways entrepreneurs can protect and strengthen their financial position. Titled “Navigating the New Normal: Revenue Generating Trends,” the webinar featured four entrepreneurs and industry experts who shared various tips and rich insights in keeping cash flowing during these challenging times.

We share here one revenue generation tip from each of our webinar panelists. Want to learn more? Please watch the replay below!

1. Reach out to your customers and understand their needs
For Bong Pacia, Independent Senior Business and Management Consultant and Indonesia Country Head for market intelligence firm Mintel, the pandemic will cause major shifts in how we do business, both on the side of entrepreneurs and customers. It is up to the business owners, then, to understand these shifts and make sure their business does not get left behind.

One way Pacia suggests to be on top of these shifts is to ask your customers directly. As consumer needs and behaviors change, it will be important for companies to keep up with these changes. The best way to find out how these changes are playing out is to engage with your customer base.

“Before, they [would] come to you, and you [would] give them advice on [what to do],” said Pacia. “Now, it’s the other way around. You go to them and ask them, ‘Is there anything I can do to help you?’, ‘How can we customize something for you?’ That’s where you [build] your business on.”

Pacia added that these insights will not only help your business stay relevant while the lockdown persists, but it will also help your company get back on its feet quickly once the lockdown is over. He suggested that these insights should be used in forming your company’s strategy post-ECQ, as these changes in behavior will soon become the “new normal” for customer interaction.

2. Be diligent with your research
Related to the first tip, Rommel Ng, co-owner of restaurant chain Buffalo’s Wings N’ Things and founder of online informational platform The Resto Coach, reminded his fellow entrepreneurs about the importance of doing diligent research. Ng related it to Pacia’s advice by saying that entrepreneurs would have an advantage when they are actively gaining insights during the ECQ.

“One thing that you gain from operating now versus waiting for the ECQ to end is you gain a lot of insights from actual customer interaction,” said Ng. “The product mix is the most dependable [piece of] data because it is the one that customers actually spend money on.”

Ng expands on this tip by saying that there are many more potential sources of customer insights that can be used to improve your business. With the wealth of information available online, entrepreneurs can use these pieces of data to refine and strengthen their strategies during and after the lockdown.

“Information and data are now being shared openly. Take advantage of that,” advised Ng. “You cannot afford to waste money now in [external] R&D. You just have to be diligent enough to do the research [on your own].”

3. Build trust within your network and uphold your company’s values
As the ECQ began, Anya Lim immediately worked on shifting the products she was selling in her social enterprise, ANTHILL Fabric Gallery. As the fashion house mainly focused on clothes, accessories, and other lifestyle products made by local artisans, Lim and her weavers started creating and selling essential goods such as face masks.

“A lot of fashion brands and designer entrepreneurs have shifted to essential goods, which currently are reusable masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) production,” shared Lim. “I think the masks are going to be a staple in our wardrobe, [probably] for the next three years.”

However, this shift in production is not the only way Lim is boosting sales within her company. One of her store’s most popular products in recent weeks has been the ANTHILL Bayanihan Bucket, which contains a “self-care kit” with teas and an air freshener that were packaged in one of ANTHILL’s weaved bags. While the bag alone would have been considered a non-essential good, bundling it with more essential items allowed ANTHILL to drive sales to their own products.

“The power of bundling right now is very effective. If you’re (selling) a non-essential good like we are, [you can] pair up your product with an essential good, which can potentially work,” said Lim. “With the bucket that we did, [the contents] made the consumers feel that they will benefit from that, and the bucket was just [a value-added component].”

4. Collaborate with less-affected businesses
The contents of ANTHILL’s bags were provided by partner small businesses, which Lim saw as an opportunity to both promote different entrepreneurs while generating revenue for her company. For fellow social entrepreneur Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, president of eco-ethical fashion brand Rags2Riches and CFO of UNAWA, this method can prove to be an effective strategy for businesses, especially those who are heavily impacted by the lockdown.

“An exercise that I’ve done with my team is to look at the industries that will not be as affected by this pandemic,” shared Fernandez-Ruiz. “If there is a relation with your industry, look at how you can collaborate with them.”

Implementing this strategy will allow your business to not only find a new vertical to generate revenue, but also to expand its scope and introduce your business to new audiences. As Fernandez-Ruiz and the rest of the panelists highlighted, this is a good way of future-proofing your company beyond the ECQ, as it can open up various opportunities for the business. What is important, however, is that entrepreneurs should act and find these opportunities now.

“Whatever you do now will define whatever you’ll be in the future,” said Fernandez-Ruiz. “In the future, you will not just survive but thrive and be different.”

January 31, 2022
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