This #lockdown period is obviously impacting people differently depending on their individual circumstances.  I am in an extremely fortunate position where I am still a salaried employee, am able to work from home and have a reasonable degree of job security (for now).

While I still have to work-work my usual 9-5pm; my side hustling continues. Except now I have an extra 1.5 hours a day saving time on my daily commute.

Winston Churchill famously once said “never let a good crisis go to waste”. To be absolutely clear, I am in no way advocating that people should be taking advantage of the situation and unfairly hiking prices of essential goods and services. This is actually illegal and you could be prosecuted. Rather, as entrepreneurs, we need to be seeing the opportunities that arise from our current environment.

Never let a good crisis go to waste

I am somewhat amazed by some people who complain about being bored out of their mind during this lockdown. Our lives were so busy before but now we have been gifted with TIME. Time to reflect. Time to work on your spirituality. Time to sort your admin and organise your home. Time to read. Time to be creative. Time to upskill yourself. Time to flesh out the one business idea you once had. Time to start or pivot your business!

There are so many free webinars and online courses on offer- we are spoiled for choice really. The internet is your oyster!

Yes, there are still opportunities all around us, but the world will likely look very different by the time we come out of this crisis. This will dramatically reshape the priorities and behaviour of world leaders, businesses and consumers alike.  

Aside from this current situation, I’ve never been one of those entrepreneurs that are high on optimism. I am conditioned to think of the risks and the costs of pretty much everything- and that seems to moderate my optimism.    

So, for these reasons, I remain “cautiously optimistic”.

Corporate citizenship

As investment analysts, an important element we look at is a company’s ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) principals. This is largely driven by how they conduct themselves as a good corporate citizen and understanding their responsibilities to society. As startups, we may be small but we can have an impact and we should take responsibility for the role we play in society.  

It is heart-warming to see government, big business and civilians come together during this Covid-19 crisis. This led to me to ask myself – what can I do help? As a start-up myself, I am not at all by the means to throw money at the problem. However, one of Entrihub’s core functions is to provide access to information to entrepreneurs and small businesses.

So, I’ve been quite busy researching the various support mechanisms being established to help small businesses through this time. With all the fake news making its round, I had to ensure that the information is accurate. Ensuring I use information from reliable sources and oftentimes reading the actual government gazettes. I then turned this into infographics so that is easily understood and shareable. I also wrote an article which summarises all the support packages.

I was planning on introducing some value-added services later on this year. These included web design, business coaching and business planning. However, given the current environment a lot more people may need this now.

Many small businesses do not have a website and this crisis clearly highlights the need for an online presence. Some businesses may be struggling and need some coaching to get through this period. Some are finally getting time to flesh out their business idea and need assistance in translating this into a business plan.

As such, I decided to bring the launch of these services forward and offer it at a much lower rate than initially planned. I am also considering giving free webinars on business and finance. Any takers?

It may not be much, but at least it’s something. Something that could be the difference between a company surviving or closing down.

Working remotely

As I mentioned, the world is likely to look dramatically different to the one we were used to. Yes, there were many businesses that operated solely online (like Entrihub) but almost all businesses are being forced into introducing online services purely for survival.   

One of my pet peeves is this traveling to working thing and sitting in office at a specific time. One of things that attracted me to starting my own online business was the ability to work anywhere, anytime. I can work from home, a coffee shop, a co-working space, an airport lounge, a backpackers lodge halfway across the world or by a table overlooking the ocean while sipping mocktails!  

In stark contrast, I hate hate hate commuting to work. It’s just so inefficient on so many levels. It causes so much pollution, its time consuming, there is congestion on the road which consumes even more time, it is frustrating sitting in traffic, you are burning fossil fuel, spending money on petrol, car instalments, insurance premiums, maintenance and other ancillary costs. I just absolutely loathe it!

I hope one of the positive things to come out of the COVID-19 saga is that businesses will fundamentally rethink their business models and working environments. It requires a paradigm shift.  I hope employers will realise that they can actually allow (some/most of) their employees to work from home and that team meetings and collaboration  is actually doable online. Yes, face-to-face team interaction is important, but why 9-5 for 5 days a week? Why not just once a week for 4 hours or something?

I mean, have you seen how beautifully empty the streets and highways are in the countries that have lockdown? Obviously this is an extreme case and traffic will resume when we come out of this crises. But just image if cars on the road reduces by, say, 30%. This will be a massive win for the fight against climate change.

Even in the education space (on all levels- primary, secondary, tertiary, corporate).  Why do learners need to physically attend a lecture in a specific time slot? Online learning is so much more efficient, flexible and far more affordable.

All we have to do, is to make internet connectivity broadly available and affordable #datamustfall.

Photo credit: Mike Hutchings, Reuters

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