Entrepreneurship - surviving Covid-19 | Sunday Observer

Entrepreneurship - surviving Covid-19

19 September, 2021

One of the hard-hit sectors of the pandemic is the informal sector. Entrepreneurs of various businesses find it hard to operate with minimum resources due to constant restrictions. Yet, they have found ways to survive and transform the business ventures to sustain in times of uncertainty.


The pandemic taught many businesses to optimize their resources

Fiona Nanayakkara - Author, entrepreneur, and Publicist at News Publisher

Q: As a young entrepreneur, how has it been dealing with Covid-19?

A: It has been interesting, yet not too surprising. News Publisher was geared to work with News Publisher Online from whichever place.

Our stakeholders also feel confident we are a new age agency ready to deliver the best service no matter where we are.

Throughout my years in the corporate sector, I witnessed so many wasted resources which I was not going to copy just because it was the norm. The pandemic taught many businesses to optimize their resources and cut losses that weren’t a surprise for News Publisher. We were already a lean organization with industry experts.

Q: How did you restructure the business?

A: We did not restructure. We were using the tools we had in place one year ago which brings joy to any technopreneur. Our payment gateway is used the international clients who are facing lockdowns this makes us a forward-thinking Sri Lankan agency.

The automation tool is attracting other international agencies to work with us, as it’s simple, cost-effective and efficient.

Q: What was one thing impossible to do during the lockdowns?

A: Network.

Q: How has your industry been affected?

A: Promotional budgets cut by companies, newspapers reducing the number of pages resulting in the lack of space for business news and slow decision making.

Q: What new thing did you do concerning your business?

A: Attention to sustainability - News Publisher is growing a tree for every client.

We will have our little forest. We also help selected entrepreneurs with their marketing plans, share knowledge on tech incorporation into business and publicity.


Financial aspect of the business is challenging for entrepreneurs

Alanki Kishani Perera - Founder, Radha, actress and talk show host

Q: As a young entrepreneur, how has it been dealing with Covid-19?

A: Dealing with the pandemic has been challenging for many entrepreneurs in terms of the financial aspect of the business. Most of our clients purchase sarees for weddings. Since weddings and events were cancelled it directly affected the business and most in the wedding and events industry.

Q: How did you restructure the business?

A: We didn’t have to restructure the business in a major way but we mostly take in clients through appointments to maintain social distancing as much as possible.

Q: What was one thing impossible to do during the lockdowns?

A: We have not changed our business much because our clients love what we do and therefore we hope to keep it the same way. The business is run by women for the women. It has been a fulfilling and rewarding experience working with wonderful clients even amidst the pandemic and trying times.


The online platform was the only option

Jayendri Perera - Founder, Bollywood Fitness with Jay, and IT Project Manager

Q: As a young entrepreneur, how has it been dealing with Covid-19?

A: It is so difficult to get work done. Exhausting and frustrating would be the exact words.

The moment you think everything is starting to go well, another lockdown. However, staying strong and not losing hope, trying to incorporate positive ways to be engaged with my customer base as possible.

Q: How did you restructure the business?

A: With multiple travel restrictions and quarantine, curfews imposed, moving into virtual platforms was the only option to continue classes. I would be lying if I didn’t mention that this was unknown territory for me. However, with the support of clients, online classes have been a success.

I was also able to use this period to focus on promoting my page and creating more awareness by collaborating with Yeti (online dance competition), I also got called to be featured on Model Katha hosted by Rozanne Diaz.

Despite the native impacts, I would say there were positive impacts that came with COVID.

Q: What was one thing impossible to do during the lockdowns?

A: Convening online classes would be the ONE difficult task during the lockdown. There is a huge difference between in-person classes vs online classes.

Q: How has your industry been affected by the Covid-19?

A: Fitness workouts are most impactful when you can convene in-person sessions, as this motivates our clients and give them that break from a long day at the office.

However, most clients have lost their motivation to be consistent with their workout routine since online classes have commenced. This has led to an increase in negative impacts not only on physical health but with mental health.

Q: What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs?

A: Don’t give up, and don’t lose hope.

There’s a reason why you started your business. if it made you happy at a certain point in your life.

Don’t let covid19, any other variant or a person let you stop from doing what you love. You have no idea the change you can bring into someone’ life.


Long-term plans were divided into simple yet effective short-term plans

Nadeeja Fernando Munasinghe - Founder / Owner & Designer at Sereppu

Q: As an entrepreneur, how has it been dealing with Covid-19?

A: Entrepreneurship is always an exciting but risky business, even in the best of times. The last months could reasonably be called “the worst of times” that the world has collectively endured in recent memory, and most people’s response to such times is to avoid risk. Once hailed as a bright spot in the economy, today many of them are at the end of their runway.

While struggling with the covid 19 pandemic, I always considered the health and well-being of my employees and customers as the top priority. However, as an entrepreneur, I also came across ample opportunities where others saw roadblocks!

Q: How did you restructure the business?

A: My business ‘Sereppu’ from the very beginning was structured in two models of virtual and physical stores so I really did not have to restructure just had to implement some extraordinary plans for my virtual store!

Q: What was one thing impossible to do during the lockdowns?

A: The Covid-19 pandemic of course has disrupted plans, changed priorities, scrambled existing projects, and made us all acutely aware of the fact that we cannot predict the future.

So all the long term plans were divided into simple yet effective short term plans. Nothing was impossible for an experienced entrepreneur I’d rather admit but sourcing materials was sort of difficult.

However, we were able to get the maximum use of the resources which were already available at our stores including some materials which were upset at corners due to my negligence. We managed to create some masterpieces out of them. Every single material at the store was utilized in the manufacturing process during the pandemic.

Q: How has your industry been affected?

A: The fashion and footwear industry has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak on every imaginable level; production has ceased, retailers have closed, demand has plummeted. However, the good news is its fashion. If you really understand the trends, if you make your product relevant just from a product point of view, you can still play. So it’s art and science. And the art part will always be strong in this industry.

We have identified new strategic plans to spice up our virtual business and reach our physical clients virtually. It’s my belief that this unique set of circumstances can hopefully bring about a positive change in the fashion and footwear industry that has been needed for years.

Q: What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs?

A: My advice to young entrepreneurs is that if your sales have dipped during this period or your operations have shut down due to the lockdown, use this time to speak to your customers, brainstorm with your team and improve your offering.

During the nationwide lockdown, we reached out to our customers for feedback and received some very valid and practical suggestions on how to improve our user journey and we also utilized the lockdown period to focus on implementing the feedback.

This way, when the lockdown is lifted and when business is back to normal, you hit the ground running.