12/2020 – It’s time for recovery

I am back in Malaysia, three-quarters through my mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Having gone through five Covid-19 tests in 22 days of travel, my final test awaits me on Monday. Then (hopefully), I can assume my roaming rights again.

For those who travel to the United Kingdom, Malaysians who arrived after Aug 11 do not need to self isolate as Malaysia is now considered a “safe” country. Countries with low Covid-19 infection rates are rated accordingly but the decision can be reversed when the infection rates go up like they did in France and Spain.

Summer holidays are such a big event in Europe, so you can imagine the chaos created when a country is re-designated as “unsafe”. Holidays are cut short, and there is a mad scramble to go home to beat the deadline before you have to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

Since the UK government volunteered to pay 80% of workers’ salaries for four to five months, British workers have been having the time of their lives, being paid to stay at home and do nothing.

Restaurants have been closed for months and some only started reopening in July and August.

Alex, the owner of Mandarin Kitchen in Bayswater, said he started opening his restaurant at end-July with eight of his 24 workers. Within two weeks, his business was back to 60% of the pre-Covid-19 level and he had to increase staffing.

His two oldest staff refused to come back to work – they probably wanted to extend their paid holidays – and Alex changed their status to “permanent unpaid holiday”.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been pleading for office workers to get back to work as London city looks like a zombie town.

From what I hear, many companies will only start operating in their offices in 2021, after the Christmas and New year holidays. Most employees cite the risk of infections as their biggest fear of returning to work in the office. Working from home is the new norm.

This fear, however, was not evident in tourism: there were 150,000 British tourists in France alone; and a mad crowd gathered in Bournemouth beach as UK enjoyed the hottest week of summer in early August.

For the first time in their working lives, Britons enjoyed such a long paid holiday. Everybody was happy, except of course business owners and entrepreneurs.

Many restaurants and small businesses closed for good. In October, when the salary subsidy ends, the retrenchment letters will come out and massive unemployment is expected, worse than in the last recession of 2007/8.

Back in Malaysia, friends have been texting me over the Merdeka holiday weekend, saying large crowds are back in the malls and restaurants. Confidence to get out of the house is returning, thanks to the stellar efforts of the Health Ministry. This is certainly good news.

China has proven that any country that can control its pandemic problems will be the country that recovers the fastest. It is the only nation in the world that had a positive 3.2% GDP growth in the last quarter to June. Every other country was in negative territory.

With the RMCO extended until the end of the year, the Malaysian government needs to do more to revive the economy and create new jobs.

However, other than lip service to followers, I have not seen any sound strategies for a quick recovery. Trumpish claims of an RM82bil FDI from Turkey? No foreign workers for our manufacturing sector? Setting up another e-commerce platform to fight Lazada and Shopee?

No, not really. What Malaysia needs now is a capable team of ministers who are able to focus on the real needs of the nation rather than how to stay in power. The major issues are staring us right in the eye.

The moratorium on RM70bil worth of loans ends in September. Extending the loan moratorium is basically kicking the can down the road. Not everyone or every company needs their loans extended.

Assuming 20%-30% of the loans require special assistance and help, we are still looking at a RM15bil-RM20bil problem. If the banks can restructure 70% of the problematic loans, then the whole banking system can absorb an NPL hit of RM5bil-RM6bil.

Individuals who have been retrenched should be allowed to pay only the interest on their loans for the next 12 months with the principal being stretched further back. Viable SMEs should be allowed to restructure their loan repayments and given a further loan injection to tide over.

To a certain extent, bankers must give equal emphasis to empathy as much as to the financial evaluation (viability) of their customers.

Besides opening our green lane with Singapore, we should consider opening a green lane with our northern neighbour, Thailand, which is another “safe” country with very low infection rates.

Tourism (without the 14-day quarantine) for those from “safe” countries like China, Thailand, Taiwan and so forth should be allowed as long as they come with a negative Covid-19 test taken three days before arrival.

As a precaution, these tourists can do another test on arrival before being allowed to enter.

Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia will not be around in six months’ time if they are not allowed to fly the international skies soon. American Airlines just announced the retrenchment of tens of thousands of personnel in October after the government’s furlough subsidy ends.

Domestic tourism is picking up but it’s just a fraction of the money from foreigners. Last year alone, Malaysia’s economy was boosted with a total of RM86.14bil from international tourist receipts, not to forget the hundreds of thousands of jobs the industry creates.

Foreign workers and maids have been an important feature of our economy for the last 20 years. They do the work that locals do not want to do. Banning these crucial workers from Malaysia is not the answer to a fast recovery as our manufacturing and plantation sectors are crucial and major contributors to our GDP.

The government should allow these workers to come in, have them tested three days before departure and again at KLIA, followed by a mandatory quarantine before they join their employers. Let the employers pay for all these tests and quarantine.

Without ignoring the standard safety guidelines from the Health Ministry, the opening of these economic activities can be implemented without any serious consequences to a healthy Malaysia. Let all of us take a positive step towards the faster recovery of our economy.

The sooner we do it, the better it would be for all.

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2020/09/05/its-time-for-recovery

11/2020 – Focus on the positive

I am writing from London while undergoing self isolation in my apartment. I have not written since April primarily because I have nothing positive to write about. It has been a depressing start to the year of the metal rat, the first in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

Prior to my departure for London recently, I celebrated my 60th birthday in a small group (physical distancing) dinner hosted by Datuk Ho Kay Tat and Datin Linda Ngiam.

My two senior friends and I have gone through so many trials and tribulations in our almost 40 years of working life that we were unfazed with the oncoming recession and the unusual political instability in our country.

We all know that in due time, all these problems will soon be resolved and just as light follows darkness, we will eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Like you, we have no clue as to how long this dark period will last and how it will play out.

From experience, I can only advise that what is required right now is a positive mindset, always searching for the silver lining and making the best out of any situation that you find yourself in.

Entrepreneurs and senior corporate managers are experiencing some of the hardest time right now, worrying about cashflow, sales revenue and operation cost in no particular order as all these problems are inter related. Most external factors affecting your business are beyond your control, all caused by this invisible virus which has changed consumer behaviours and the business landscape dramatically.

What is within your control are the internal factors like your relationship with your stakeholders in the business that you are in.

Solve each problem separately, one at a time with each of your stakeholders and you will find solutions to some of your problems that will encourage you to proceed to the next stage.

Cashflow

Probably the biggest hurdle to overcome is when you see your cashflow drying up and banking facilities fully utilised.

If you have not reduced your operating cost since March, you are in deeper trouble now. The key presentation that you need to show your bankers is how you matched operating cost to lower sales revenue.

Nobody will buy your story of higher sales potential (most businesses anyway) so be realistic and humble.

Bankers normally would like to see shareholders inject additional equity into the business as proof of faith before they provide you with additional financing.

Unless you are too big to fail like AirAsia, you can ask the government to provide a government guarantee as requested by the commercial banks, which are majority-owned by PNB, EPF and Khazanah anyway.

For SMEs however, you will have to source for additional equity from your own pocket, partners and, if desperate enough, from outside professional financiers like private equity and family trusts.

Be prepared to part with some shareholdings. Just don’t go to Ah Longs, you will just hasten your business demise.

If you have a viable business, professional financiers will work with you through the next few years, thus providing financial stability over the most difficult moments.

In the meantime, work hard to convert inventory into cash, sell unproductive assets and reduce your operating cost.

You must match your operating cost to your reduced revenue.

Continuous losses will reduce your available cashflow at a faster rate and before you know it, you are insolvent.

If you have maxed out your facilities with your bankers, just remember it is also in the bank’s interest to keep you afloat lest you fall into the non-performing loan zone.

Bankers can be the most creative financiers if they want to help so it is advisable you spend some time convincing the bankers why they should keep you alive…. at least for another year.

Severe cashflow deficit problems might look insurmountable so it is a good time to have an indepth review of your balance sheet and business model:

Balance sheet – try to squeeze cashflow out of current and fixed assets. Be creative.

On the liabilities side, increase equity and you will be able to increase loans accordingly. Rebalance your loan portfolio. Short-term loan for short-term assets. Unless you can pay back, never use short-term loan for long-term fixed assets.

Business model – if you have been loss-making pre-Covid, I suggest you preserve your cashflow and temporarily close down your ops.

You may want to restart one to two years later based on the visibility of vaccines and consumer behaviours then. For corporations, refocus on core business and active cash conversion. Reduce your ego too because this virus do not recognise size nor past achievements.

Anybody can get infected.

If you have a business that is holding up well in June and July, be more aggressive with your promotions and make sure you turn your inventory fast.

It is like being the same fish in a much smaller pond but there is sufficient water for you to swim around and stay afloat.

If you have loads of dry powder and cash reserves/ unused banking facilities, this is a great time to look at new opportunities but do take your time and plan well.

Cash is king in the next 12 months so you can get some really good deals out there.

For those of you who have had a good run in the stock market, suggest you keep some reserves for many rainy days ahead.

Don’t believe analysts. They are as clueless as you are. Stay safe.

For those of you who received a pay cut (normally for those earning above RM4,000), the 10%-20% cut is not too bad. Just adjust your lifestyle to suit the new budget. You will still be able to put food on the table and have a roof over the head.

For those of you who have lost your job, if you are single, there are many options for you. There are many positive stories of people staying humble and getting any job that help to pay rent and their daily cuppa.

Lose the car if you do not really need it.

Grab is cheaper and you do not have to pay monthly installments.

If you are committed to an apartment, start looking for housemates to share the cost. It might affect your personal space but hey, you still own the space and you can keep the bankers at bay.

When all things fail, talk to your parents and family. They are always there for you.

Just remember these are extraordinary times and we old folks understand as we have survived hard times before.

Just stay positive. Like US President Donald Trump has predicted, the virus will eventually disappear. And he is right!

Published: https://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2020/08/17/focus-on-the-positive

10/2020 – Lives versus livelihoods in the face of pandemic

Lives versus livelihoods. We hear the same arguments everyday.

On one extreme end, lockdown everyone until after we have 14 continuous days of zero new-infections in the world. This could take months, the economic costs will be so devastating and we will have nations of home prisoners going mentally berserk.

On the other extreme, open up the economy on May 1 and open up air travel, infect and cross infect, build immunity through herd mentality and soon the living will not have to worry about being infected again. Never mind the few million deaths of the vulnerable old and diseased people.

Meanwhile, the sharp fall in the health of the economy will also affect the global population as the weak companies will fall out first, followed by mass unemployment, economy turning from a recession into a depression, more unemployment, failure of financial institutions and finally countries across the globe will become broke and the people living in abject poverty.

At both ends, cost of lives will be so exorbitant whether in death or destroying so many livelihoods beyond our comprehension. The only solution is a vaccine. The only problem is that it will take another 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be found.

Can we find a solution, a middle ground to this madness of weighing lives versus livelihoods?

China has shown us how to control the virus. None of the other 213 countries in the world has adopted the China approach. As the rest of the world is still trying to flatten the curve, China’s next big fight is to control imported infections. So China closes its borders and wait for the rest of the world to heal and report zero infections. That will take many many months as the rest of the world will open up their lockdown policies and resume economic activities. Re-infection will happen and the rest of the world will stutter, do many smaller lockdowns whenever new clusters are found until a vaccine is found.

So in the next 12 to 18 months, we will find a new way to live, the new normal for the global population to adapt to. How will it affect our lives?

Post MCO – pre vaccine

Laws will be enacted to ensure that a face mask is worn every time anybody goes out of the house. Hand sanitisers will be carried around together with your wallets and moisturising hand cream will be used daily to reduce your itchy skins on your hand due to excessive washing and the alcoholic drying effects.

Social distancing will alienate families and friends and many open businesses will have to operate with half capacity. People all over the world will have to line up patiently like the Japanese for the simplest task of buying grocery or waiting for a vacant table in a halved capacity restaurant.

The whole world becomes paranoid. People will avoid travelling to places of high infections whereas government will close its borders from fear of imported infections. People will avoid mass public places, vulnerable people will stay more at home.

Spending money will be diverted from non-essentials to basic essentials and personal safety. Higher personal hygiene standards will become the new habit. Homes and places of work will smell like hospitals due to daily sanitisation of everything. “Stay safe” will be the most used closing line in our messages to our family members, friends and colleagues.

More families will be displaced due to business failures and unemployment. Social problems and criminal activities will rise due to poverty and helplessness. Personal, business and government debt will increase tremendously as many businesses collapse in a deflated economy.

The extent of the problems mentioned can be mitigated if we remain calm, and the government is able to coordinate its strategies together with local economic partners. A successful collaboration between all parties is absolutely vital if this country wants to get out of this pandemic meltdown with the least damage as compared to other countries.

The Malaysian government has proven that they are proactive in managing the pandemic by implementing MCO early and now gradually easing towards a resumption of economic activities. Just like previous policies, the intent and ideas are good but as always, implementation leaves much to be desired. The need to control is not matched by its capabilities to manage.

The Health Ministry knows where the hot spots are. Similarly, they know where the green spots are. Their contact-tracing of the tabligh outbreak, even though painstakingly slow, have started yielding results. New clusters from tabligh-related infections have been identified in tahfiz schools and the ministry has moved in to contain the situation. The blind spot will come from the migrant workers who have not been tested just as Singapore has discovered recently.

If the tahfiz schools and migrant worker issues are not resolved by end April, there is a likelihood that the MCO might be extended till after Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which is towards end May. The risk of two million Muslims travelling back to their hometowns will render these six weeks of MCO ineffective and wasted.

What we need is more testing and at a higher capacity than the planned 16,500 tests per day. The new South Korean rapid test kits have been approved and hopefully with a lower cost. Early detection is the key as proven in many other successful countries.

Gradual resumption of economic activities can be managed effectively if employers work with the Health Ministry on agreed strict guidelines. As it is, the guidelines are the same as in the practice of social distancing at the work place, personal hygiene and prevention of transmission.

The ministry should work on the bulk purchase of rapid test kits and offer these services to all workplaces to test their workers at an affordable cost. I would gladly pay RM150 per test per worker just to have peace of mind for all parties. This tests will be our first line of defence at the workplace.

Workplaces that want to resume their operations will have to incur additional expenses on safety measures for workers. All staff members should be provided with face masks and hand sanitisers as the protection should cover travelling to and from work, inside the workplace, and educating the workers to observe high personal hygiene at home and at work. The cost of one positive case discovered at the workplace will be even more expensive due to sanitisation cost, loss of work hours and re-testing of all the staff.

All workers should be temperature tested at the entrance and asked if they are feeling unwell. Every precaution should be taken at the workplace. My friend who just restarted his factory operations has gone to the extent of paying for delivered lunch for his workers and reconfiguring the canteen seating to practice social distancing. Where it is not possible to have the metre-length space in between two workers, he has provided transparent polycarbonate full face mask as additional protection.

As the majority of the population is Covid-19 free due to the six weeks of MCO, the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) can resume economic activities in various industries with strict guidelines for the employers to follow. The Health Ministry should continue to ban mass gatherings and mass movements until the coast is clear. That should be non-negotiable.

Lives versus livelihoods decisions should be based on a calm and calculated strategy with cooperation from all segments of the population. The ideal balance of the equation would be a minimum loss of lives and livelihoods so this nation will suffer less in this pandemic – economic misfortune.

Cliche as it may sound, we are all in this together. So let’s work towards a gradual recovery of our lives and economy.

BFM Webinar: Race to Recovery

Thiam Hock made an appearance today on BFM Radio’s live webinar: Race to Recovery.

Thiam Hock joins Dato Munirah Looi (Brandt International) and Joshua Liew (EspressoLab Asia) to discuss how COVID-19 has changed the way business operate and what businesses need to do to survive.

Click here to watch on Facebook.

To jump straight to Thiam Hock’s comments, follow the time stamps below:
(16:30 refers to 16 minutes and 30 seconds in the video)

16:30 – The SME road to recovery starts next year, not this year. You will be losing money this year, that is a given. How do SMEs preserve cash flow for the next 6 months?

19:30 – Thoughts on EPF deferment / exemption & wage subsidies.

Wage subsidies help, but it’s only for 3 months, and SME’s need to survive for 6 months.

29:05 – Brick & mortar businesses, vs. online businesses.

33:15 – What measures can companies take to reduce monthly operating costs? Look at your forecasts, be sure to look at minimum 30-60% fall in revenue for the year. Talk to you landlord – can they extend 20-30% discount during the MCO?

36:30 – Advertising and promotional budgets. Businesses should be spending on anything that can help sales in this period – and media companies will be giving great deals now.

38:50 – Wages. Can we convert wages to be more of a variable cost?

43:00 – Mergers. Does it make sense to acquire a weak competitor? Does it make sense for weak companies to merge?

51:00 – Private equity and venture capital. PE and VC firms will be like vultures in 4-6 months time – and business owners will no longer be able to command high valuations.

In the next 2-3 years, the “valuation game” won’t happen. (…) It’s gonna be very, very much subdued, the valuation game.

1:01:40 – Senior staff and bonuses. What do you do for staff who insist to be paid fully during this MCO?

We are facing a situation where you cannot afford to to absorb losses for six straight months. (…) It’s a time of reckoning.

1:03:30 – What is the outlook for the wellness industry?

1:08:20 – What do businesses do if the MCO is extended? Some form of economic activity has to resume. A call for religious leaders to make responsible decisions, and for business to take health and safety measures seriously when business resumes.

It’s really a question of Lives vs. Livelihoods. And whether the cure is going to cost more than the problem itself.

9/2020 – Cashflow and monthly operating costs are key

After watching Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement on the enhanced stimulus package for SMEs, my various chat groups came alive with all kinds of comments and opinions. In particular, one chat group which comprises experienced retired senior bankers, entrepreneurs and senior business journalists (all about the same age of 60 and above) stood out for its wisdom and sharp foresight.

When asked about potential SME casualties in this economic crisis, a senior banker commented, “TH… I went through four deep recessions/business cycles, ie, 1987,1997,2007/8, and now 2019/20. Same like you, and no wiser than my friends in this group.

“My gut feeling is that there will be more casualties this time around because the pandemic is world-wide. But like all recessions, the economy will turn around. It will not likely be a V-shaped recovery. We all have to tighten our belts, cut losses, and make sure we survive to enjoy the recovery.”

He is correct, as this recession is like no other. It is the first time that almost all economic activities have stopped in all the major countries in the world at the same time. There is a supply shock as the supply chain has been completely disrupted to a standstill.

There is demand shock as sales of most industries have fallen off the cliff to almost zero during lockdowns, and there is capital market shock as global stock markets crash.

Predicting the timing of the recovery is extremely difficult as we now have to deal with a virus pandemic with no solution in sight. Yes, a complete lockdown can flatten the curve but the risk of a re-occurrence of a new wave of infections is very high when the movement control order (MCO) is lifted. Economic activities have to resume, so we will have to practise some form of restricted MCO for the next six months.

And this affects business.

Sales will continue to be very soft as consumption drops due to lower consumer confidence, higher unemployment and reduced personal income, as widespread paycuts are implemented. As in most recessions, not all businesses will do badly. From experience, consumers tend to trade down, ie, purchase lower-priced alternatives to sustain their lifestyle. Hawker stalls will continue to do well, while higher-priced restaurants will suffer.

The logical conclusion for SME owners is to focus on surviving the next six months. Once the moratorium on your loans ends in October, will you still be standing with the ability to start repaying them? Will you have sufficient cash flow to participate in the economic recovery which will probably start in 2021?

Your survival strategy till October will have to focus on two key issues – cash flow and monthly operating costs.

Managing cash flow > Sufficient banking facilities – Since all your loans have been placed under a moratorium (meaning that you won’t need to repay them for the next six months) by your bank, you will need to check if the balance amount of banking facilities will allow you to trade normally.

If not, quickly apply to your bank for additional trading facilities. If you have spare cash, it might be wise to start paying down your loan when you can and not wait till the end of October.

  • Cash reserves – You will need to cover March and April losses from your cash reserves. Reduce your losses for the next five months through aggressive cost-cutting. Most businesses will face delayed collections so cash reserves, if available, will be most useful to cover cash-flow deficits.
  • Wage subsidy – Expect delays in your claims as the government will not be able to cope with the massive influx of applications. If approved, expect delayed payments of at least a month in your cash-flow planning. The wage subsidy is only for three months but you need to survive the next six months. So, plan accordingly.
  • Corporate tax – For companies that will definitely declare a loss in 2020, my advice is to write in to the Inland Revenue Board informing them that you will declare zero profits for the financial year-end 2020, and suspend all tax payments for future projected profits. There is no point loaning the money back to the government when you need it more to survive.
  • Deferred EPF payments – Just like bank loans, EPF payments have been deferred for six months when you will have to restructure your payments with the agreement of the EPF. Do not consider this as savings. It goes into accounts payable, interest-free of course.
  • Rental subsidy – The announced tax deduction for rental rebates of 30% for three months from April to June will be effective in encouraging private-sector landlords to implement only if double deduction is allowed. In times of need, business partners should help one another. This is how the Chinese business community has been built over the last 100 years in Malaysia.
  • Moratorium – This is probably the best Bank Negara strategy to help preserve cash-flow liquidity for businesses to continue trading. By allowing the banking system to prevent classifying non-payments after three months as non-performing loans (NPLs), businesses can breathe and continue trading for another six months. Individuals too have more cash in hand to offset the paycuts that will definitely happen. By end-October, Bank Negara must allow another restructuring of existing loans by another six months to businesses who will benefit from the economic recovery.

Reduce monthly operating expenses. The survival of your company depends on the amount of cash reserves you have to fund losses in March and April and also losses to be incurred from May to October. So, it is imperative that losses are kept to a minimum in the next five months.

Losses are calculated after deducting expenses from net sales. Net sales is gross sales less cost of sales. So, if net sales are down, expenses must come down proportionately, which in this case might not be possible for companies which suffer a big drop in sales.

While your sales revenue is dependent on external factors which are beyond your control, to a major extent, you are in control of your own expenses. For most service companies, payroll forms the biggest portion of the monthly expense. This is normally followed by rental or in some companies, advertising and promotion.

  • Rental – At the maximum, expect your landlord to give you a rebate of 30% from April to June. This means that you can factor into your expenses a reduction of 15% in rental payments for the next six months.
  • Advertising and promotion – It has been proven in the last recession that companies that continue advertising and conducting promotional activities will sell more than their competitors who stop completely. You are advised to work with your media suppliers to get more bang for the same budget. I am sure the media companies will support you, as they too need sales and have excess inventory to give away.
  • Office expenses, allowances and claims – Cut all the unnecessary frills that you can ill-afford. Not much but every penny counts. Spend some on healthcare, though, to look after the team.
  • Wages – I have stopped comparing with the Singapore government’s wage subsidy plan because our government does not have sufficient reserves.

With the latest proposed enhanced wage subsidy, it looks like SME owners must take matters into their own hands. Some companies will enjoy reasonable support of up to 30% subsidy on the wage expense, while some will only enjoy 5% to 10%.

Do remember that this is only for three months. Why the government is not exempting EPF payments for six months is beyond my understanding. This will only translate to a higher paycut across the board.

I have an investee company where the senior management has given the board of directors a revised sales forecast, with sales revenue dropping by 20% against the 2020 budget. But no corresponding reduction in expenses was given.

I have replied that this sales forecast might not be achievable and that we should start looking at reducing our expenses, mainly the payroll, which is a massive portion of it.

I would recommend a minimum 20% paycut across the board, freezing all intakes, probably retrenching a few positions deemed not necessary and linking the paycut to sales. If the sales for May to October drop by more than 50%, then the paycut will be more severe like 30%-40% for those who earn above RM4,000. However, if sales recover to its original budget then the salary will revert to its original amount.

Different companies will have to tailor different strategies, depending on the sales performance of the company up to October. For companies where payroll forms the bulk of expenses, detailed human resource requirements must be considered.

Where possible, the fixed salary cost should be changed to a variable cost, as a percentage of sales. This will help minimise losses to a great degree and at the same time save jobs and keep your key employees employed.

Some form of right-sizing is required now. Where possible, eliminate jobs to reduce 10% of your current payroll. Then undertake a paycut of 20% to make total savings of 30%. Then, submit for wage subsidies to the government if your company qualifies, which will probably save you another 5% to 10% of your existing payroll. With immediate savings of 35% to 40% from payroll deduction, you can take your chances with the remaining five months, of which April is already a complete loss for you.

Then my entrepreneur friend asked, “What if the employee does not accept a paycut?”. My answer: “Nobody can stop this employee from leaving the company on his own free will.”

At this moment of truth, SME owners’ only objective is to save the company from going bust. Minimise the losses so that you can stretch your reserves till October.

At the next moment of truth in October, SME owners will have to decide whether to continue or close their business. Don’t forget that you still have deferred EPF payments and the loans with interest to pay off. You can avoid bankruptcy if your business is still alive in October 2020.

From one battle-scarred entrepreneur to all the young entrepreneurs and SME owners out there: “Stay alive today to fight the next battle tomorrow. And you will win again.”