What are entrepreneurs’ top priorities in times of corona?

Pandemics like covid-19 affect all of society. Citizens are staying at home as they have been asked to do, caregivers are going the extra mile and the government is launching mind-blowing bazooka measures in consultation with banks. But while they are essential to get companies through the crisis, the role of entrepreneurs threatens to be overlooked. Entrepreneurs not only need courage, clarity of mind and perseverance, they also need to be able to transform these into concrete actions and measures. ‘Never spoil a good crisis’ may have a nice ring to it, but when it truly hits you in the face, you realise it is an unprecedented challenge.

Entrepreneurs are first and foremost worried about their people: their employees, whose health and good spirits need safeguarding. At the same time, their company needs to maintain sufficient liquidity to keep its head above water; once bank accounts dry up, bankruptcy looms on the horizon. And to be able to guarantee continued production and service, the chain from supplier to customer needs to remain intact.

Via weekly webinars, we keep our finger on the pulse of our 160* Flemish entrepreneurs and owner-managers who are members of the Impulse Centre ‘Growth Management for Medium-sized Enterprises’ (iGMO). That way, we get to see how they are handling the crisis.

Above all, they are opting for increased communication, especially digital communication. Skype, Zoom and other applications like Microsoft Teams reign supreme these days. In the future, staff meetings will take place online much more frequently, as will contacts with customers. All entrepreneurs have also been forced to strictly manage their cash straight away. Balancing the in- and outflow of cash, rigorously monitoring expenses and keeping a close eye on outstanding invoices. To do so, entrepreneurs didn’t hesitate to turn to banks to make the most of their credit lines.

At the same time, many have found innovation can happen quicker than they could have imagined. New products and concepts are being launched even before they are completely finished, because this results in both faster cash flows and immediate user feedback.

Yet what strikes me the most in these rough times is the unexpected vigour most entrepreneurs are displaying. It is almost as if some were born to tackle the difficulties a crisis brings about. Just a few weeks into their crisis management, they are already eager to get to the post-lockdown recovery, ready to draw on the lessons they’ve learnt from the corona crisis.

We suspected as much, but simply hadn’t felt it yet. Now, we do. And that will lead the way to tomorrow’s ‘new normal’. We may not be able to predict the future, but we’ve now seen that with a healthy dose of entrepreneurship, we ourselves can help shape that future.

* Allaert Aluminium, GIKS Mode, Cotap (NL), ECS European Containers, Publiganda, Ad Ultima, Bosteels Brouwerij, Christeyns, ZABRA Real Estate, AVC, Cadus – Euromeat, Claerhout Communicatiehuis, JBC, Software Developments, Grada International, GMP, Coeck, Ganda Ham, Seneca, Clips, Destiny, beMatrix, De Rocker Logistics, Lamett, Europe, Gluecom Group, Spiromatic, Colmar, Dossche Mills, Harol Consyst, Cortina, BOPRO, AG Plastics, Artes Bouwgroep, Biscuiterie Thijs, Group Joos, Molecubes, European Spinning Group, Special Fruit, Callens, ABN, ANL-Plastics, EEG nv, Noyen, Purna Pharmaceuticals, Piette & Partners, Pollet Water Group, Top Bronnen, Raes, Pharmaceutical Logistics, Duco, Distri-Log, AGO Jobs & HR, Alsico High Tech, Alsico, United NRJ, Theo eyewear, Spaas Kaarsen, OracDecor, Heumatop, Eliona, Van de Velde, SBS Skillbuilders, Moerman, I.R.S. – Btech, Tradelio, Sepia, Vandenbussche nv, House of HR, Vandeputte, J. Cortès Cigars, Soudal, Deba, La Lorraine, Decoline, De Bommels, L.S. Bedding, Versele-Laga, Vyncke, Warsco, ABN, Willemen Groep, Vlevy, AIM Group, Alimax nv, ASAP.be, B&R Bouwgroep, ChocDecor, D'Arta, Daddy Kate, Damman Bouwonderneming, Decospan, Filou Company, Globachem, Haelvoet, Itineris, Re-Vive, Tobania, Vache Bleue, Van Den Weghe, Delta Light, Pattyn Packing Lines, Publisign, Upgrade Estate, Artes, Bel&Bo, Dicar, ECS European Containers, Familieholding Cretskens, Ganda Ham, GDW Security, Gluecom, GMP, J. Janssens & Zonen, Lecot, Publisign, Sioen, SKT, Sobradis, Soenen Golfkarton, Stadsbader, Vandecasteele Houtimport, Vereenooghe, Verstraete Development, Houtmagazijnen F. Lefevere, Vlassenroot, André Celis, Jademo, D.T.O., Danilith, Danis, Lefevere-Beel, Maes Mattress Ticking, Valcke Prefab, Eliona, Colmar, Castellins, Emaillerie Belge, Tradelio - De Beauvoorder, Mistral Home, Flocart, Stadsbader Promotions / Verstraete Woonprojecten

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