Change and diversification inevitable, economist tells SMEs

BUSINESSES across the country have barely hung on after the arrival and persistence of COVID-19.

In a way, the pandemic has become a wake-up call for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that threats to businesses could come in various directions.

Therefore, it is critically important to be ready for changes and to be swift in their response.

“In this regard, entrepreneurs need to live in a new normal, which would entail high adoption rate of technology as the businesses have learnt their lesson well during the coronavirus outbreak,” Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd’s chief economist Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid told Bernama.

He added that small businesses must be cognisant on how they should seek help to upgrade their business operation, sales and market segmentation by ensuring that technology will be embedded in every aspect of their business.

This is as about 907,065 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country are living in very uncertain times – from day to day it seems almost impossible for them to predict what will come next.

“All SMEs should explore what assistance are provided by the relevant government agencies that can assist them in transforming their business in the most efficient and cost-effective manner,” Afzanizam pointed out.

For instance, matching grants of up to RM5,000 provided by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) for digitalising the businesses should be fully utilised by SMEs in respect of technological adoption.

Diversify revenue stream

Besides digitalisation and technological adoption, Afzanizam stressed that businesses must be open to diversify their revenue stream and this would mean they must explore other industries so that they would not be overly dependent on one revenue source.

“Perhaps, exploring for joint venture or partnering could be the options to safeguard the market share and to gain operational efficiency,” he suggested.

Explaining further, he said research and development as well as upskilling require time and money.

The SMEs are not convinced that such investment would help to future-proof them from threats of intense competition and economic shocks.

Afzanizam shared that it is important to have constant engagement with the relevant government agencies, in order to bridge the gap between their (SMEs) fear factor and what is available to them. This would help the SMEs to have a clear view on how they should capitalise the available measures and incentives provided by the Government.

“This may include organising a workshop, conferences and exhibition would actually help to allay their concern or misconception among the SMEs about the need to upskill their businesses,” he concluded. – July 25, 2021

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