Business Loans

4 resources that can help SMEs to survive and succeed during the pandemic – and beyond

Belinda Wan
July 16, 2021

Take the first step: An hour-long advisory or diagnostic session with a business advisor could be all you need to turn your company around.

Part of a network of 12 SME Centres set up by Enterprise Singapore, SME Centre @ Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also known as SME Centre @ SICCI, was set up in 2008 to help SMEs in Singapore.

It offers complimentary business advisory services to Singapore-based SMEs that are looking to grow their companies locally and expand overseas.

Impact of the pandemic

Since the pandemic, SME Centre @ SICCI has noticed an increase in companies reaching out for guidance on pivoting and exploring other business opportunities, says Mr Syed Saleem Ali Shah, Manager, Business Advisory, SME Centre @ SICCI.

“The pandemic has forced many business owners to urgently consider other angles, products or services to better cater to the needs of their customers or explore an entirely different market altogether,” he says.

Mr Shah believes business owners should act promptly and consider change if their "tried-and-true" approaches fail.
Mr Shah believes business owners should act promptly and consider change if their "tried-and-true" approaches fail.

“While there is no one area of focus that could apply to all, we highly encourage business owners to act promptly and consider change should their traditional ‘tried-and-true’ approaches start to fail.”

SME Centre @ SICCI is actively involved in strategizing and assisting owners in planning out alternative measures to cope (or even scale) amidst the pandemic.

Mr Shah tells us about four useful services SME owners can look forward to at SME Centre @ SICCI.

1. Business advisory services

Rendered by business advisors across all SME Centres for business owners in Singapore, these advisory services are complimentary and typically last for an hour.

“Business advisors work with business owners to identify gaps or inefficiencies and recommend actionable steps that the company could take to raise their internal capabilities,” says Mr Shah.

After these sessions, the business advisors craft a customized report for the company’s referencing moving forward.

The report details the company’s strengths and weaknesses, with the advisor recommending appropriate methods to tackle problem areas.

2. Capability Workshops

Respective SME Centres organize Capability Workshops (CWs) that aim to improve on the knowledge and capabilities of businesses.

CWs typically include a sharing session by both a business advisor and an industry professional who has in-depth experience or knowledge on the topic at hand. They focus on the key pillars of a business – productivity, human resources, branding and marketing, financial management and internationalization.

“CWs involve a knowledge-sharing session within a webinar or seminar environment with SMEs on key business pillars to strengthen their internal capabilities and know-how,” explains Mr Shah.

These sharing sessions often focus on establishing fundamental understanding and strategizing towards achieving objectives or outcomes – for example, retaining and attracting talent, fund raising, internationalization, etc.

“The two-part sharing sessions are open to all interested companies and aspiring entrepreneurs who are considering kickstarting their own business ventures.”

3. Group-Based Upgrading projects

Quite often, challenges or problem statements cited by a SME could be a repeat of other businesses within the same sector or vicinity.

“This is why the business advisors often brainstorm and work with potential solution providers to roll out these projects, which aim to solve these common pain points and strengthen the business operations of affected SMEs collectively.”

4. Business diagnostic sessions

Due to many reasons, including their involvement in day-to-day operational issues, SME owners may not be aware of certain blind spots of their businesses.

“For example, a software company’s founder may not be knowledgeable or appreciative of the importance of branding and marketing,” says Mr Shah.

“At diagnostic sessions, the business advisors help to explain the importance of such business aspects and establish basic fundamentals to help the business owner kickstart his or her efforts.”

The sessions aim to deep-dive into key aspects of the business, providing an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the company in that particular field and most importantly, help the business owners to prioritize.

“Beyond merely pinpointing their weaknesses, business advisors work with the business owners to formulate actionable plans moving forward to remedy the situation at hand and better strengthen the business.”

Similar to other services rendered by the SME Centres, the diagnostic sessions (and their accompanying reports) are rendered on a complimentary basis.

Exciting plans ahead

Besides these services, the team is actively working with external partners such as start-up accelerators, coworking spaces and Institutes of Higher Learning, to name a few, shared Mr Shah.

“We are often on the lookout to roll out business presentations and business clinics for the benefit of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs. We urge business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs to keep an eye out for us!”

This is the shortened version of an article that was first published in Lendingpot’s July 2021 newsletter.

Leading digital loan marketplace Lendingpot connects SMEs to its network of 45 lenders comprising relationship managers from banks, financial institutions, and private and peer-to-peer lenders in Singapore. It aims to help SMEs overcome the information asymmetry problem and lack of transparency prevalent in the SME financing sector by offering SMEs financing options such as business term loans, property loans, revenue-based financing, credit lines, working capital loans, bridging loans, invoice financing, and more.

About the author

Belinda loves thinking about random stuff, and collecting useless bits of facts and trivia. She often roots for the underdog, and believes the world needs more happy endings.

SME Centre @ SMCCI
business advisory service
business diagnostic service
SME owners
capability workshops
group-based upgrading projects

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