Small and medium-sized businesses, from mom-and-pop shops to neighborhood stores and fast-growing restaurant chains, play a vital role in global economic growth and development. Thus, supporting their business growth with valuable insights and practical experience becomes crucial during challenging times. We recently did this with a Flutterwave Product Workshop titled “Thriving as a Small Business in a Challenging Economy!”. 

The webinar, celebrating Women’s History Month, was hosted by Bisade Adeolu, Senior Associate, Internal Communications. It brought together three business leaders: Hadrat Abolade, Founder of Amila Naturals; Morenike Molehin, Founder of Oak and Teak Interiors; and Yinka Anidugbe-Olaniyan, Founder and CEO of Sweet Pod, who all shared their insights and strategies for success during challenging times. It’s noteworthy that Mrs. Yinka, leveraging our eCommerce platform for small businesses, started her current business during the pandemic. Similarly, Mrs. Morenike’s Interior Design firm received a substantial boost during that period, and it was an opportunity for Ms Hadrat to pivot into her mission to redefine natural African beauty products and cosmetics experience. 

Left to Right, Bisade Adeolu (Host) and the Panelists: Morenike Molehin, Hadrat Abolade, and Yinka Anidugbe-Olaniyan.
Photos provided by the host and speakers. 

Below are some key takeaways and gems shared during the webinar:

Learning to adapt and reinvent your business is key

“There will always be ups and downs in business, try to always stay positive and learn to continuously adapt,” says Mrs Morenike. This shows that change is inevitable, and embracing it can give you and your business some control over how the situations turn out for you. As such, Mrs. Yinka noted that it is essential to “…love what you do; be strategic about it and don’t compromise on creating values and learn to pivot.” That will help you reinvent your business without necessarily increasing your costs and ensure you find other ways of providing additional value with your products.

Engaging your customers and your immediate community is important

Small businesses thrive on establishing solid connections through community engagement and a wide network of colleagues, family, and friends. This is much more important during economic challenges because it is a key reason your product or business could be singled out for patronage despite many other available choices. Additionally, it can serve as a solid source of support system with colleagues and more experienced people from different walks of life who can provide invaluable resources and encouragement to keep you moving. You can also create a loyal customer base that continuously supports your business through tough times through such engagements.

Building brand loyalty and gaining customers’ trust is not a one-time journey 

Building brand loyalty and gaining customers’ trust is a journey that must be embarked upon before, during, and after challenging times.  Consistently leveraging the power of storytelling and letting customers know that you care about their needs beyond just your bottom line will make that journey seamless. Ms. Hadrat believes, “An important way to effectively engage and connect with your customers is by streamlining your operations with a repeatable and solid structure.” With that, you can always and easily connect with your customers either with creative packaging, personalized messaging, or “simply telling the story of my sourcing practices and the many women whose livelihood depends on my business,” she added.

Collaborating is a smart business decision

All panelists and the host emphasized the importance of collaborating with other businesses (mostly non-direct competitors) and believed it was a smart business decision. This is because collaborating gives room for knowledge-sharing and exchanging ideas and insights, which opens your eyes to best practices other business owners leverage to stay afloat during tough times. Moreover, collaboration can help you achieve more results with less budget by combining your partners’ strengths with yours, sharing or reducing the burden of certain operational costs, such as the cost of high-quality content production or Besides, the connections you make in the process will go a long way in coming through for your business. 

Cutting costs is an option, but don’t sacrifice quality

To be or not to be, the speakers shared insights on this financial dilemma for small business owners. Emphasizing the importance of being known for quality service and excellent products, Mrs. Morenike said a great approach is “Don’t incur unnecessary costs in the first place. If you eventually do, don’t hesitate to cut it once it becomes obvious it’s not sustainable.”

On the other hand, clarifying that while cost-cutting is always seen as a necessity, two of the panelists observed that it might not always be the most effective for small businesses to stay afloat in tough times. Instead, they said managing costs rather than cutting them and reviewing  (that is, increasing) product price rather than operational cost (that is, reducing) is usually more effective. Mrs. Yinka said, “If you need to increase price, do it, but DON’T sacrifice quality and excellent service” because “When you create and sell high-quality products, people will pay what you charge,” Ms Hadrat added. 

– Persevering and being resilient is non-negotiable.

In conclusion, “tough times don’t last; tough people do” is a quote that most accurately summarises the insights and practical experiences shared during the webinar. The speakers’ resounding message is that challenging economic times can be a breeding ground for small business growth. By embracing adaptability and collaboration, prioritizing customer and community engagement, and making smart financial practices, small businesses will not only survive but thrive in any economic condition. Do you want more details about the insights shared? You can watch the webinar recording on YouTube. 

Published by Opeyemi Ekundayo

Associate—Storytelling and Branding