This article was published on 9 April 2020 on Corriere di Malta newspaper
Expert opinion: restart your business in the post-epidemic through the use of public funds
“Don’t wait for something to happen, use the public funds already available and prepare a business plan to be ready to start afresh” writes Stefano De Stalis.
Coronavirus has stopped the economy; the sharp slowdown has not left Malta unscathed. The situation is not as serious as in other European countries, but we are unable to predict its evolution.
What we can surely do is to reflect on what the future will be like when the emergency will be over.
Let’s try to understand how to prepare ourselves and how to start planning in order to be ready when the time comes.
We will certainly face a completely different reality.
This is not an easy period because the attack that we suffered took us by surprise, some sectors of activity cannot operate, schools have been closed and businesses that still work probably act in a disorganized way because they did not have time to plan.
In short, something has happened that forces us to a sudden and epochal change, we are standing still but we cannot sleep, instead we have to rethink our way of living and working.
We have been bitten hard, but let’s not just see the negative aspects of this economic crisis, we must look at the great opportunities that lie ahead. Now we finally have the time to redefine our business objectives by trying to set new goals and by planning ahead to be ready to face the new challenges that the market poses.
Some companies have completely stopped their activities, some have suffered a collapse in turnover and profits, others can no longer pay their bills. On the other hand, some companies are managing an unexpected growth which, if not managed properly, could disrupt their business.
It is almost a chaotic situation.
Do we have to just wait for the tunnel to end?
The answer is definitely not.
Our recommendation, and the advice of the take force that we set up on purpose, is to act immediately and use the time we have, let’s say three months, to analyse new needs and plan new strategies.
Perhaps it will be necessary to diversify the production or convert the business, to decide to import from other countries, or find new sales channels: for example, it may be necessary to reshape your website, make it more aggressive, more engaging, different, turn it into an instrument of greater communication, a platform for selling and paying online.
It will be necessary to study new ways of connecting to others. Perhaps it will be necessary to reconvert some productions, or replace current services with others, rethink your shop, replace some products, introduce home delivery services, adopt new sales strategies, change sectors. Inventing in new courses to train your employees to be able to sell via Skype, or to choose materials via the Internet.
But planning takes time and cannot be done in three months, it will be too late, you must start now, immediately.
It is necessary to make financial plans, define budgets, estimate costs, predict how many future revenues and profits or even losses could arise in the first months.
This must be done now, more than ever, not in a day or two, right now.
And we can help you, by discussing with you, small or large entrepreneurs, artisans, shopkeepers, listening to your needs, trying together to identify new objectives, to define the alternatives that we have before us, by making hypothesis of the investments to be faced but also of the facilities and incentives that can be obtained thanks to the increased availability of public, national and European funds.
And therefore, we can assist you to define a solid business plan that can guide you towards a new success in a world that will surely be different.
This is also the right time to come up with new business ideas which, in order to be transformed into products or services, absolutely need a robust Business Plan.
Yes, but how much does a Business Plan cost, many people ask us?
You don’t have to worry about this because the consultant’s cost, if the application is approved, will be reimbursed up to 80%, through public funds, made available by the Government of Malta and the European Union.
Funds that finance start-ups, micro-enterprises, self-employed workers, small and medium-sized enterprises.
For example, in July or August we will go on vacation but probably we will not be able to go abroad. Hotels in Malta will have to rewrite new rules of the games, maybe focus on a new form of local tourism, perhaps by organising events or competitions, games, weeks in Gozo and so on. We will have to think about new needs that did not exist before because the world was different. We will have to come up with new ideas and turn them into a winning plan.
Instead of waiting, we recommend that you contact us as soon as possible in order to start planning new goals immediately to be ready in two, three months; so that eventually in July, or whenever the new start will come, you will have geared up with clear ideas on what to do avoiding unnecessary cash outlays. We will suggest which are the most suitable public incentives for you.
We should take advantage of this period with a positive approach; let’s create a solid business plan.
A business plan that may include several possibilities for action, such as:
- realisation of new business ideas
- expansion of production or service capacity
- diversification of the business
- diversification of production processes or services
- adoption of new sales policies
- development of new products / services or processes
- corporate reorganisation
- process innovation
- internationalisation of products or services
- entry into new markets
- remaking of website
- introduction, updating or integration of e-commerce solutions, online sales, online payments, home delivery
A well-made business plan is the fundamental requirement for the success of a restart, growth or development project. But it is also the indispensable tool, the fundamental requirement, to obtain loans from banks, funds from the European Union. The costs that can be included concern all company functions, from salaries, to the purchase of equipment and software, to materials, to consultancy expenses.
Incentives, whether for capital or interest, are a great advantage especially for small businesses that do not have an adequate structure to support innovation and growth projects.
If you are worries, if you are afraid, if you do not know what to do, call us and we can face the situation together and evaluate the most suitable public funding. This is the right time to reflect, to think about the future. In normal everyday life it is difficult to stop and decide to question everything, today we can do it.
Let’s view this moment as a great opportunity.
Let’s face it together and we will achieve success.
Stefano De Stalis
European Affairs and State Aid Manager