The New Normal

Reece Delia  -  10/May/2021

We are now in our second year of dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 on our daily lives, a pandemic which has led many of us to face unprecedented challenges, both on a personal as well as a professional level.

Whatever the size of your business, be it a large one employing hundreds of people or a budding startup trying to make headway, you must have surely sat down at some point to see how best to steer your business in these unchartered waters.

From my experience as an advisory consultant to many types of businesses in various sectors, it is manifest that the first important step is to assess one’s current modus operandi. To this end, it is crucial for business owners to determine to what extent they could realign their current business activity, restructure the product or service portfolio, reconfigure internal processes and embrace new technological practices to ultimately reduce operational costs, improve efficiency and generate further interest in the business.

Nice words. Yet how does one lift them off this page and turn them into reality? Malta Enterprise, in close collaboration with the Malta Chamber of Commerce, has launched a scheme which allows businesses to carry out precisely this crucial exercise. Businesses can, in fact, be awarded a cash grant covering 50 per cent of the costs incurred to engage an external expert and accredited advisor to carry out the required analysis. The maximum grant per advisory service per undertaking is capped at €5,000.

This incentive is available until the end of 2023 and each undertaking can apply more than once, with 18 months intervals in between.

Simultaneously, retail sector operators or those who depend heavily on the physical presence of clients in their outlets, should also seriously consider an additional distribution channel to service their consumers through an online e-commerce platform. Even here help is already here. The Business Enhance e-Commerce ERDF Grant Scheme has the main objective of providing businesses with the necessary support to design, develop, implement and deliver an e-commerce website and/or mobile application. With a maximum grant of €5,000, covering up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs involved, one should certainly look into this scheme to redress any competitiveness gaps and boost turnover.

The pandemic might have also put plans to increase the capacity and operations of one’s business on hold, both because of the drying up of liquidity as well as due to the impact of the public health restrictions. To this end, one should assess the financial feasibility of new and/or diversified operations. Help is here as well.

The Business Enhance SME Consultancy ERDF Grant Scheme purports to provide SMEs with a lump-sum support of €4,000, covering 80 per cent of the eligible cost, in order to engage an external advisor to assess the financial soundness of proposed initiatives to reconfigure a business setup or introduce new avenues for further business growth.

The benefit of this measure is that the business plan or financial feasibility study developed under the aforementioned scheme can then be used for other grants offered under the Business Enhance Schemes, including the SME Growth Grant Scheme or the SME Diversification & Innovation Grant Scheme which can support up to 30 per cent and 50 per cent respectively of the eligible capital expenditure to be incurred for a project.

On a final note, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an immeasurable impact on most businesses. Yet I strongly believe that this could be a golden opportunity to stop and rethink business operations to adapt to what has been referred to by many as “the new normal”. Do not rest on your laurels and act today.

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