Entrepreneur Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Nowadays, COVID-19 is everyone’s topic. An unprecedented global pandemic that no one is ready for. Some optimists say that we should be proud to be a part of a historical moment in humanity.

Many things changed in an instant and people gradually shift from ignorance toward fear, and – hopefully – toward wisdom.

Lots of businesses are dying and shutting down as a side effect of lock down and social distancing, whether imposed by the government or terrified people are too afraid to purchase their services and products. As an entrepreneur, our company has also been impacted, though not severely – at least until now – since we provide software and application for enterprise customers.

We were on ignorance stage at the beginning of the pandemic, from January to February. COVID-19 was a faraway problem, as far as China. Business was running as usual, we were merrily planning to expand our business in 2020.

Around March, we began to feel the presence of COVID-19 in Jakarta. There were several positive COVID-19 cases and multitude of bad COVID-19 news flooding WhatsApp group.

The government seemed to scramble around in trying to find a way to handle this disease. One day, Pemprov DKI cut the operation of public transportation in the name of COVID-19 prevention, only to cause overcrowded public transportation resulting in a higher COVID-19 contagion risk to the public. Surely netizens were happily roasting the governor.

At April, Pemrov DKI announced PSBB (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar). Offices were told to make their employees working from home. Our company has chosen to comply, because we don’t want our employees to be exposed to COVID-19 and their work can be done anywhere.

The economic slowdown and uncertainty caused some customers to delay the execution of our project. These situation made us enter the fear stage. What should we do? Should we cut our employees’ salary? If yes, how much? Can we give THR? Can our business survive? We could not imagine the full business impact of COVID-19 and did not know what to do.

I was enlightened through online discussion with fellow IT startup entrepreneurs. I certainly hope that I have entered the wisdom stage. There are 3 steps that we can take so that we know what to do. These are a practical steps that might be more suitable for small enterprises like us.

1. Assess our condition

How much money do we have in the bank? How much is our minimum monthly expenditure?

Plan your minimum expenditure thoroughly. For us, our minimum expenditure plan means zero recruitment, tiny salary increases, no company recreation, and development budget cuts.

2. Make scenario

How long can we survive without revenue? That is our runway.

As a consulting company, we earn our revenue through projects. So we need to (a) close deals, (b) submit invoices, and (c) collect payments during that runway.

Apparently our runway was 6 months. Thankfully we have already signed several projects so that (a) is checked.

3. Assess our business potential

How much revenue do we need to break even this year? Can we get that revenue? If no, what do we need to do?

Let’s hope the crisis will end soon and moreover, this crisis will make humanity better.

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