Entrepreneurs and the Covid-19 crisis: what did they do and what did they learn?

The Covid-19 crisis has impacted firms severely. By taking quick action and by implementing lessons learned, entrepreneurs try to minimise the damage. SMEs are likely to remain vulnerable for a longer period. But crises also provide opportunities for new growth. This can be achieved by linking a long-term vision to decisive limitation of short-term damage. By doing that, SMEs will become virus-free and emerge healthier than before.

These are the main insights from a research report by lecturer and Senior Researcher Yannick Dillen. The report is based on four surveys with the members / entrepreneurs of the Impulse Centre ‘Growth Management for Medium Sized Enterprises’ (iGMO) at Vlerick Business School. 220 responses were gathered. The respondents are typically the owner/manager of mature Flemish-based growing SMEs. A broad range of industries are represented (IT, manufacturing, services, retail, construction, …).


1. How large is the impact? Facts and figures.

2. What did entrepreneurs do during the crisis?

  • Cash management as damage control priority 
  • Communication to all employees 
  • Being creative in sales 
  • Caring about their clients 
  • Caring about their employees 
  • Taking back operational control 
  • Using the power of an entrepreneurial network

3. Lessons learned by entrepreneurs during the crisis?

  • Sustainable growth matters 
  • The final breakthrough of digital 
  • Bringing innovations to the market can be done very quickly 
  • Contingency planning can provide a roadmap in uncertain times 
  • Having more suppliers for critical components can be beneficial 
  • Internal processes can be less efficient than you think 
  • Entrepreneurs can be good crisis managers

Download the full research report

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