Keisha Taylor was significantly impacted by the recent lockdowns which were introduced to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
To add to her challenges, heavy rains associated with one of the tropical storms that impacted the country in August, caused a tree to collapse on a section of her shop resulting in significant damage.
“My customers often complained when there were no movement days because they could not purchase the items they would need to cook or just survive for the day. It also affected my ability to stay open because I am a small entrepreneur. Even if the lockdown is a day, I am affected and my customers are also affected because I lose money and have to be careful with how I purchase stock because the items might not sell and will spoil on me,” she said.
However, the entrepreneur who operates a grocery shop in Arnett Gardens, St. Andrew, has remained resilient by finding creative ways to survive.
“What I have started doing to reduce losses is to pay even closer attention to what my customers purchase. If for instance, they purchase more bag juice and Cheese Trix than bun and cheese, I stock more of those items,” she revealed.
“For some of the popular items, the profit margin is less, but it ensures that I can restock, pay my bills and stay open. I have even began to repair my shop by putting in a permanent structure after a tree fell on it during the heavy rains,” he said.
Joy King, a clothes vendor who operates in the Corporate Area explained she has begun to save more to survive.
“I move about to sell ladies’ items. Therefore, on no movement days I was unable to earn. This was difficult for me because I had to budget properly to ensure I could survive. If it was a slow period after the lockdowns I would have to depend on friends to get by until things picked up. What I have had to do to meet my obligations, for example, is to put a part of each sale towards that so I don’t owe when the time comes to pay. I also purchase stock that is in demand to ensure I can meet the needs of the market,” she said.
Dave Spencer, who operates a canteen at the Comprehensive Clinic on Slipe Road, revealed that the pandemic has also been a challenge for him. However, he points out that he has been able to weather the proverbial storm better than most.
“The early days of the pandemic were challenging because we were uncertain as to what would happen,” he said. “Fortunately for me, my overhead costs were not as high other persons, but it impacted me because in the early days many persons would have opted to stay home and so this affected us.”
He points out that he has since recovered from the early setback and has urged other entrepreneurs to be creative.
“It will be difficult to survive especially if you have overheads and associated costs,” he said. “Owing to this, it is time to be creative. You may not make a profit, but your aim is to survive. One thing you can do is stagger your employees work hours so you don’t have to send them home. Also, if you are in the food business, register with the E-commerce National Delivery System, (ENDS) and see how you can offer your services on that platform,” he advised.
“Also, try to take advantage of the grants being offered by the Government and find creative ways to market and sell your items. It is difficult, but the first goal is to stay afloat.”
Miss Taylor adds that she also budgets properly to ensure that she can meet her obligations.
“Before the pandemic I could say I would use this day’s sale to pay my loans and bills and another day to do something else. With the lockdowns I am unable to do that although it is now just on a Sunday. What I have done is to put down a portion of my earnings daily to ensure that when the bills are due they can be paid,” she shared.
Mrs Gillian Hyde, Deputy Managing Director, JN Bank Small Business Loans explained that the pandemic has shown the resilience of the small and micro business owners.
“Micro and small entrepreneurs have always been resilient. However, the pandemic has shown how adept they are at surviving and reinventing themselves to remain in business,” she stated. “Many have found creative ways to save and meet their obligations while others have pivoted and now operate differently. The lockdowns impacted them and they’re trying to find ways to survive and I am confident that many will rebound from this period even stronger.”