Thriving in An Economic Slowdown: Putting Your Business First

With about 17.4 million enterprises, it is no denial that SMEs account forms approximately 50% and 90% of both industrial jobs and the manufacturing sector respectively. We can confidently agree that the SME sector is the backbone of most developed economies, as well as the important contributors to employment contributing to 48% of the nation’s GDP.

Despite the noteworthy contribution of SMEs to the Nigerian economy, some challenges still hinder the growth and development of the sector. Being the key drivers of the economy, we have designed products and services that create solutions for SMEs growth and sustainability.

The COVID-19 outbreak is creating a global economic slowdown, affecting trade and investment which unfortunately SMEs are being hit the hardest, making the need to aim at unlocking growth and development crucial.


Solutions are needed to give SMEs the support they need to thrive and continue to contribute to the economy and nothing could have prepared them for the hard hit they received from the COVID-19 crisis. On this site, we are providing insights to small businesses searching for ways to thrive and deal with the functioning stress caused by COVID-19.

1. Develop Innovative Practices

Developing innovative practices can help in adapting to the changing market conditions caused by the COVID-19 crisis and in staying ahead of competitors. As part of this practice, manual business processes can be automated making workload reduce and improving productivity. Physical activities can be moved online which is where most customers are making your business more available to them and more competitive.

2. Focus on the Core Competencies of your business offerings

Small business owners often simplify the concept of “diversification” to being “different” by adding other products or services to the already existing offerings. This can damage your core business offering by taking your time and money from what you do best eventually damaging your brand and reputation. Instead, drop the extra diversification and focus on what your business does best that is most profitable.

3. Win the Competition’s Customers

Continuing to expand your customer/client base will definitely make your business prosper in tough times. This means drawing customers from your competition by offering something unique than what your competitors do. 

By Benchmarking, you can research your competition and see what you can do to attract their customers to becoming yours. 

4. Make the Most of Current Customers

We have all heard the old adage that says “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Now, the bird in hand is your customer or client, and they avail the opportunity to make more sales without suffering the costs of finding new ones. The key here is excellent customer service ensuring that your customers or clients love what you do or sell and keep them happy by identifying their needs and meeting them. 

At the same time, if you do nothing else but go over and above for current customers to keep them coming back, they will remember to refer people to your business which is the best kind of marketing. Thus, while it is important to expand your client base, it is equally important to keep your core customers very happy and this way you will get referrals that will not wither as a result of a downturn in the economy.

5. Don’t Cut Back on Marketing

Most small businesses make the mistake of drastically reducing their marketing budget to the bone in lean times, or even removing it completely, but this is precisely when your business requires marketing the most to make it become top of mind to your customers and clients. Consumers are restless – always looking to make changes in their buying decisions. Help your business by helping them find your products and services and to choose them rather than that of competitors by getting your name out there. Do not quit marketing, rather step up your marketing efforts.

Nothing will make your business thrive 100% but simplementing these can help ensure that your business survives this tough time and possibly make profit. It all begins with evaluating how you are doing things now and looking for ways to improve how they are done. 

At FirstBank, our SME connect is an initiative designed for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Nigeria. The hub is a platform that allows SME’s network. Beyond financial support, we offer you strategic advisory services, business seminars periodic updates, product sales with discount offerings opportunities as well as information that will guide you in growing your business. Grow your business, scale up today visit the nearest FirstBank Branch or click HERE to begin.

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