JOHOR BARU: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have to be agile and act fast following the global Covid-19 pandemic in order to survive in the business world, says Digi SME business division head Steven Soon.
SMEs should take the bold step to grow their businesses to the next level and should not see the pandemic as a hindrance to achieve the growth target, he said.
“When you fall, you have to wake up with a positive mindset to start growing your business and should not fear change, ’’ Soon said at the Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) LAB at Thistle Hotel here.
He advised SMEs to take the bold step of embracing technology and applying it in their operations or businesses, instead of treating it as a roadblock for them to move forward.
Rather than reinventing the wheel by investing to develop their in-house digital platforms, he said that they should engage relevant service providers that offer products or services to suit their budget and needs.
“In today’s borderless world, digitalisation is no longer an option but a necessity and businesses, including SMEs, that do not embrace technology will see themselves left behind, ’’ he said.
Soon was one of the three panellists for the topic Road to Recovery in Restoring Business Sustainability.
The others were PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd group chief operating officer Jason Cheah and RHB Bank Bhd commercial banking head Azlina Safian.
The session was moderated by Persatuan Usahawan Maju Malaysia national vice-president and Johor liaison chairman Keane Lee.
Cheah emphasised that change was imminent and the ability to adopt changes in the business world and economic growth would ensure the survival of SMEs.
“Challenges not only come from the pandemic, but also economic recession or uncertainties and businesses must be resilient and able to weather the conditions, ’’ he said.
Cheah said businesses should start adopting changes as there were no clear indications when the pandemic would go away.
He said digital transformation was the key element now and post-Covid-19 and stressed that the conventional way of doing business was no longer relevant in today’s business world.
“Business owners should not undermine the power of social networking, as it opens a window of opportunities and growth prospects for them, ” Cheah advised.
He said PKT, for instance, requires all of its employees to have a Facebook account to ease communication, where its employees can give comments, suggestions, opinions and views.
Azlina, on the other hand, said there were a lot of lessons that businesses have learned from Covid-19 and the movement control order that was implemented in Malaysia on March 18.
She emphasised that SMEs not fast enough to go digital are the ones that would fall behind, as the conventional way of doing business has changed.
“The marketing strategy is different now, no longer face-to-face or having a physical outlet, but rather reaching out to your clients and potential ones via social platforms, ’’ said Azlina.
She said that SMEs should also keep track of the trends in the business world and keep an eye on what their competitors were doing.
Azlina also advised SMEs to approach their banks when facing problems servicing their loans, so that they are able to restructure and reschedule their financial commitments when the moratorium ends on Sept 30,2020.
“Consumers also need to start spending to boost the economy and help our businesses, ’’ she said.
The JB SOBA LAB also featured Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd Johor Baru branch manager Muhamad Fazuli Safar, SJ Varied Sdn Bhd project director Ashwindran Kumaran, UMLand Seri Austin chief executive officer and townships group director Wong Kuen Kong and KLC Education Group CEO Sean Chia.
SOBA 2020 is organised by Star Media Group with Digi, PKT Logistics Group and RHB Bank as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corp as co-sponsor and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp as official trade promotion partner.
It is endorsed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO with dimsum, 988 and Suria as official media partners.
The final SOBA LAB session will take place on Sept 30, from 9am to 1pm at Lexis Suites, Penang.
For more information on SOBA 2020, call The Star Events Business Unit at +603 7967 1388 ext 1871 (Lily)/1104 (Shamenei) or visit www.soba.com.my
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