For SMEs, the advice is to delegate, work in the cloud and accelerate e-commerce. For Entrepreneurs, strengthen human capital.
"If there is no remedy, Why cry? And if there is a remedy, Why cry?”. So goes an Eastern proverb, that may serve to overcome the pandemic and re-emerge in better conditions.
A quick review of context numbers. ECLAC estimated a few weeks ago that Argentina will see its GDP fall by 10.5% this year, the third deepest in the region after Peru and Venezuela. And for Latam as a whole, the falls will be even greater than in the crisis of 2009: investment will fall 20%, the exports 11,5% and consumption, a huge 9,5%.
To guarantee, a profitable and safe investment opportunity
Now let's put the magnifying glass on the companies. What happened to them since March, how they changed and what may be the opportunities in 2021?
Let's look at the established firms first. Paula Chmielnicki is an engineer and directs the consulting firm PCH, focused on professionalizing SMEs. Since March, dice, there were marked stages: “SMEs have gone through stages of paralysis, fear and scenario review. But once accustomed to constant uncertainty, many businessmen became friends with the idea of changing and thinking about another business model, or to make alliances”. From the cases: First, a toy wholesaler that was closed for the first few weeks, and then adapted the workspace, safety protocols and prevention of personnel, and was able to “resume activities and was encouraged to open more digital windows”. The other case was harder: a firm that sells equipment and services, but the latter were suspended for being non-essential. A) Yes, turned its efforts to the other business unit through alliances with suppliers: “It helped them keep the organization busy and get through the fall. It was difficult, but they managed to improve and debureaucratize work processes”.
Regarding the most notable change he saw in the signatures, Chmielnicki marks “the head of those who did not trust work outside the office. They first agreed to invest in notebooks and migrate information to the cloud; later, to guarantee the flow of information to its users. And then, the challenge was supervising the work remotely”. In the forced apprenticeship of entrepreneurs for seven months that seemed like years, the head of PCH sees an unexpected advance: “Use tools to organize tasks and thus meet clear objectives. Today the result matters, not the time of signing”, graphics.
Sandra Felsenstein is also an engineer. He founded and is in charge of Dinka, a consultancy oriented to medium and small firms. In addition to the obvious reference to the item, due to the forced cessation or curbing of many activities, the expert emphasizes the degree of previous progress in innovative practices as the great key that allowed them to adapt to the new reality. The example comes up fast: “A client of ours has an important wholesale supplies business for beauty salons, with six employees. With the closure of hairdressers, the sale stopped. He asked us for help with the design of a digital scheme to reach final consumers with dyes and treatments, something that until then only did in hairdressing salons. A) Yes, just one month since the start of the pandemic, they were already operational and working piecework. And once the normal activity of the salons returns, retail sales will already be a new business unit 100% oiled”.
Precisely, the new normal on the planet, vaccinations by, It will be for the head of Dinka a stage that we were going to reach yes or yes, but that the covid came to accelerate: “The situation is going to leave great challenges and in some cases committed companies, but at the same time it led many firms to reinvent themselves, to review the way in which they carried out their processes, and in some cases to rethink their business model. Undoubtedly, new technologies are here to stay., as well as the increase in e-commerce, digital marketing and remote work. In one word, virtuality. And what will be very clear for SMEs is the importance of always having up-to-date information and data about the business, via appropriate management boards. As well as adequate tools to make agile decisions, that allows them to adapt quickly to unexpected changes”.
Hugo Kantis directs the Prodem at the University of General Sarmiento, a think tank that researches and assists on dynamic startups, that is, only the new companies that generate a great impact on employment, added value and innovation. The covid blow, says Kantis, has stuck in this segment in the same way as in established firms. or even worse: according to a regional survey carried out by Prodem with the IDB in April, between almost 2.500 Latin American entrepreneurs, the vast majority said they only had oxygen for a couple of months. “Some had differential capacities to respond, from the contribution of personal savings. A) Yes, the first thing was to resist, only later to reinvent itself”, Explain.
What's more, remarks Kantis, what has suffered in many cases is the spirit of the team “and that is the worst thing that can happen in an entrepreneurial group, because its central capital is human capital and its contact networks”. Asked if the stimulus institutions lived up to the needs of their recipients, the director of Prodem explains that “many organizations in the ecosystem entered a first stage of paralysis, to then respond with very generic remote activities, such as talks or training. Very few managed to provide a space for emotional containment, Linking with mentors with experience in the face of crisis or informing about the relief measures ordered by the Government, and manage them”.
About the post-covid stage, Kantis foresees “different sources of opportunities. On the one hand, the acceleration of technological change, that will generate a very important creative destruction process. On the other hand, the very need to rebuild the economy will generate demands in certain sectors. And also the change in consumption patterns will give rise to new businesses while others will decrease., although in a context highly affected by the impoverishment of society and the middle classes. In turn, global value chains could be reconfigured, shifting sources of supply that are based in China to achieve greater resilience. But what is very difficult is to know what the net balance will be between the opportunities that arise and those that disappear”.
“We are an information platform for the performing arts and also a collaborative management ticket office. We start with 12 tickets in 2001 and we finished 2019 with 1.4 million tickets sold.
“In recent years we had found a solid business model with the exploitation of many issues peripheral to online and face-to-face ticket sales.; was achieved by 10 years of development in that particular niche and a deep knowledge of the ticketing problem and the specific niche in particular. The pandemic found us at a time of full expansion plus what really interested us, the Alternative Foundation”.
“The closing of the theaters was a shock. personally, the first two weeks were very hard; watch 20 years destroyed in a week is not easy”.
“But Alternativa has a very intense and emotional bond with its users.. And to the people of Timbre 4 it occurred to him to assemble the 'virtual cap', with a price range of $0 a $1.000 to sell tickets and that each decide their contribution. We embrace the idea, we developed others on the basis of audiovisual consumption and that implied for many artists convincing success stories and collections that perhaps they had not imagined before”.
"To future, a hypothesis is a hybrid scene, with face-to-face functions with a reduced audience by protocol, more streaming with remote audience spread across the country and the world. Sounds good, sounds possible, but you have to get to that. And it also implies the problem of massive hypercompetition”.
“I started in 2015, without knowing anything about bakery, after buying the goodwill from another Frenchman, the Breton Franck Dauffouis, who taught me everything about the trade. I also kept his entire team of people. We have two French-style bakeries in CABA, in Centennial Park and Palermo, where we manufacture. In Parque Centenario we were going to open a bar-cafe in March, when the quarantine was decreed
“At first sales fell, we did not know how the situation would evolve. Although at the beginning we billed only half, little by little we returned to invoice almost the 100%. But wholesale sales to restaurants fell a lot, because they had to close. Now we are having more cafeteria-type customers”.
“We try to reinvent ourselves through the sale of products to other stores. We also add new ideas, like breakfast boxes, which are highly requested. And in general, the online channel became very important, and it can be the future in the short and medium term”.
The 4 NO
- not isolate; socializing and interacting with others is key.
- Do not believe that the future will be a reissue of the past.
- Don't assume the exit is near. We will have to work to live with this situation during 2021.
- Do not forget the centrality of cash and financial management.
Hugo Kantis – PRODEM