Should SMEs behave like a startup during crisis?

Should SMEs behave like a startup during crisis?

Business Development

Cherian Kuruvila

Cherian Kuruvila

221 week ago — 4 min read

Covid-19 has turned the entire business world upside down. The best laid plans need a reset. Organisations need to develop agility in their teams and respond with urgency to this ever-changing scenario.

In these compelling times, we have been ideating on various strategies for SMEs to tide their businesses during these troubled times.

A though-provoking perspective is “Should SMEs behave like startup during this crisis?”

SMEs and Startups, no doubt are very different entities - SMEs have been in existence for a number of years, they already have products and services in place. They also have established processes and teams. On the other hand, startups may still be putting a lot of their processes and teams into place, including decisions on their revenue model.

However, in the current environment of uncertainty, lockdown and evolving ways of working, entrepreneurs are already seeing a sea-change in the way business will happen. To survive and thrive, despite these challenges, the established players may need to go back to the drawing board and look at their business with new eyes, virtually as if they were startups.


With my experience of working with the SME sector as a business mentor and coach, I would urge each SME to take a fresh look the following aspects:

1. Market Coverage

Most SMEs have a high dependency on a particular segment or a few key clients. In times of crisis, this could have a very negative effect for the SME. This would be a good time to ask yourself:

  • Which are the other segments that you could cater to?
  • What are the other opportunities available for you?
  • What steps would you need to take advantage of these opportunities?


2. Product Strategy

Your current portfolio of products may need some enhancements to cater to new segments. Develop an understanding of:

  • What changes are required to cater to a new segment?
  • What will be the cost and effort required to develop new products?


3. Business Plan

Now is the time to detail out your Business Plan, not only in terms of revenue targets but also from the perspective of old and new geographies, product mix, organization structure and teams and financial plan to ensure you reach the required outcomes.


About us

Wadhwani Foundation’s primary mission is accelerating economic development in emerging economies by driving large-scale job creation through entrepreneurship, innovation and skills development. Founded in 2000 by Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Dr Romesh Wadhwani, today the Foundation is scaling impact in 25 countries across Asia, Africa, and Latin America through various initiatives like the Wadhwani Advantage.

Wadhwani Advantage is a program for small businesses with an employee strength of 50 to 250 employees. The program offers high-quality advisory, strategic and operational service pro bono and at a subsidized fee by our mentor-advisor consultants or partners. The program is enabled through the Wadhwani Advantage APP. The APP gives you instant access to personalized action-oriented content and connects. The program includes 1-12 months of engagement to help you achieve hyper growth. It also offers up to three years of hand-holding support enabled through our Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled platform. Download the Wadhwani Advantage app on Google Play and App Store.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.


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Cherian Kuruvila

Expert Advisor and Consultant for SMEs on the platform, specially to address queries on the impact of COVID-19 on business owners in India I have over 38 years of overall...

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