Due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic that is still threatening countries around the world, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) are falling further behind. This is notable in countries like Panama, which had seen substantial growth in recent years, but which is now struggling in the SME segment. If you were to define what 2021 looks like for SMEs in one word, it would be challenging. Randall Castillo Ortega, founder of RACO Investment, discusses the outlook for SMEs in Panama next year and how they can overcome the current challenges.
It’s time to get out of the comfort zone. Entrepreneurs must research all the options available on the Internet and start investing in tools that maximize the results they expect. Says Castillo, “2020 has been an extraordinarily difficult year and many businesses have had to digitize their processes without prior planning while, at the same time, reformulate their objectives and strategies. However, it was also a year that opened the door to new working methods and expanded the minds of many, thus allowing an evolution inside and outside companies.”
While we know that for SMEs and startups it was a more challenging year, SMEs were able to develop new strategies and capabilities to stand. In order to keep this going into 2021 and beyond, there are several steps entrepreneurs must undertake. This will enable them to stay ahead of the challenges and be prepared for a breakout once the pandemic passes.
The first thing is to stay in the process of learning. For small and medium-sized enterprises, training or training processes may not be a priority; however, this is a fundamental error when building solid pillars to sustain the growth process. Especially today, when everything changes and evolves so rapidly, especially in the digital world, where every hour an application, an update or new options appear for the growth of brands regardless of their field.
It’s important to invest in strategic collaborations, as well. Networking is a fundamental piece for any company, especially if it is in its start or growth stage. Having partners or collaborators from other brands provides knowledge, connections and support that opens the door to new opportunities for your SME or startup. Adds Castillo, “Achieving strategic collaborations also opens a door to growth, especially those focused on strengthening your finances and the quality of your products or services.”
While some have already begun the next step, not everyone has been able to. Entrepreneurs must optimize their levels of innovation and technology. Productivity and process improvement are directly influenced by the technology that an SME or startup has. Choosing the right platforms, apps and elements will be one of the most important decisions to make in the coming months, because the effectiveness of your actions will depend on them.
Also remember that training your teams to get the most out of technology is a key step in your growth and adaptation process. However, challenges, whether difficult or unknown, will always bring the satisfaction of being able to overcome them and also provide invaluable learning during the process. One of the most positive aspects for 2021 is that since 2020 it gave us the time to adapt, now come the opportunities to innovate and improve.
Today, it is a reality that SMEs and startups are the main sources of work in many countries, especially in Latin America. If your products or services have export quality or have an international audience, it is important that you evaluate everything necessary to comply with the conditions of purchase and sale that each country has.