Lessons SMEs can learn from the pandemic

WhatsApp Image 2023-04-27 at 15.06.25
Mahmoud Badwan, Cheif of SME & Retail
Press Release — It's been around three years since the outbreak of COVID-19, the dreaded "thing" that no one wants to think or talk about any longer. And while I agree that we shouldn't dwell on the past, the pandemic provides lessons that can and should inform how companies and people face up to future disruptions.اضافة اعلان

The pandemic was a critical time for businesses.

Some struggled but managed to trudge along, while others had to reinvent their business models. Some thrived, while others were forced to shut down permanently.

Several factors led to the unfavorable outcomes SMEs experienced during this period. One that springs to mind is the difficulty in reflecting how customers' behaviors and preferences shifted during this period. To pivot a business is no easy task, but sometimes it's the only way to prevail over the shake-ups affecting the industry within which it operates. 

Take, for example, WashyWash. WashyWash is an eco-friendly dry-cleaning company that had to pause its operations at the start of the pandemic due to a lack of demand for its core services. So, what did WashyWash do? It shifted its strategy and launched new services, such as on-site disinfection and valeting, to create new revenue streams and ensure business continuity.

I understand that entrepreneurs have visions they may not want to stray away from and that they draft up their business plans according to these visions. But it's necessary to remember that a business plan provides a proposed path - not the only path. So, being open to new opportunities that come along the way is important.

Another major insight we gained from COVID-19 was that companies with no online presence suffered more than those ready to service customers digitally. With no e-commerce site or online platform, it will be difficult for your target market to find you, learn more about your business and offerings, and place orders.  

Some would say that they don't need to build an online presence since they have traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. I disagree!

Konn Homes comes to mind as I write this - a perfect example of a traditional brick-and-mortar business that took the plunge into the online sphere, and succeeded.

Konn Homes is the successor to Uraiqat Architects. Basma Uraiqat and her partner, Basel Uraiqat, founded both companies. But with the traditional construction industry in Jordan in decline since 2018, and with the pandemic in 2020, Uraiqat Architects was forced to close its offices permanently. And so, Konn Homes was born!
This time, however, Basma and Basel did things differently. Amidst a global pandemic, customers could design homes through Konn Homes' online platform and order them within weeks.

Afterwards, the homes would be built off-site in a quality-controlled setting through modularity and precast concrete technology.

It's no surprise that the company has taken the construction world by storm!

That said, innovation alone isn't always a company's saving grace. The role of management on the organizational culture should not be overlooked, especially when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.

It's crucial to find and hire individuals who will make great assets in the long term. Talent who match the company's values, can foster harmony and can embrace agility, as a team, in the face of disruptions.

A company that has invested in its talent and culture is Digitales. Digitales is an animation and digital content creation company that brings together creative writers, artists, animators, filmmakers, and social media experts to produce world-class entertainment with social impact.

Before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the company's leadership was monitoring COVID-19 trends and had teams perform trial runs for how to work remotely in case of a lockdown.

Teams were guided on how to produce high-quality recordings from home and mimic studio soundproofing, and Digitales set up stronger home internet connections for employees.  

What's more, the company offered employees personal days to care for their mental health and unlimited sick leave.   

These proactive measures enabled Digitales to retain its employees throughout the pandemic, maintain their salaries, and hire new talent.

At this juncture, I want to note that sometimes, being a resilient business isn't about making changes to your company. It's about sticking to your modus operandi to adapt to the changes around it.

Companies that know how to do this are catalysts in their ecosystems. They have the foresight to be successful in the business world. They recognize an opportunity when they see one. They are aware of the trends in their industry.

Two such companies that fit under this category are Sowt and Jo Academy.

Sowt is a podcasting platform that produces and distributes high-quality audio programs in Arabic. Through its programs, Sowt aims to foster dialogue on diverse topics.

Although podcasts aren't traditionally the go-to medium for information, especially in our region, Sowt is certainly changing this.  

During the pandemic, people turned to podcasts for everything: facts, news, and entertainment.

And this is when Sowt truly shined as its audience grew by 350%!

Jo Academy is an EdTech company that provides students with high-quality learning materials and access to teachers. It enables them to study remotely, saving them time and money.

When the company launched in 2014, there was skepticism from both students and parents as neither fully grasped the concept of remote learning.

However, the platform proved its worth when schools closed because of COVID-19.

Both companies were able to predict that there would be a time when their value proposition would differentiate them from others, and that there would then be a sizable market for their products.  

And indeed, when the pandemic hit, both Sowt and Jo Academy had the infrastructure to meet the growing demand for what they were already offering.

Reading this, I hope you will see the case these two companies provide for drafting a business plan. Without one, they probably wouldn't have succeeded. 


Some ideas sound great - in theory. But when you implement them on the ground, not so much. That's why many businesses that are quick to launch experience problems soon after.

When you prepare a business plan, you're forced to think things through from A to Z and from top to bottom. You also have to describe your business's objectives and define your unique value proposition - i.e., what problem are you solving better than anyone else?

Yes, things may change. But having the answers to these fundamental questions will enable you to shift course if or when you have to. And will allow you to withstand seismic events while capitalizing rapidly on emerging trends, helping you grow your market in the months and years ahead.

*The 5 companies mentioned in the article were finalists in Bank al Etihad’s 7th SME Awards.

By: Mahmoud Badwan
Cheif of SME & Retail

This press release is not produced by Jordan News. We do not bear responsibility for its content. In case you have any questions about this press release, please refer to the contact person/entity mentioned in the body of the text.

Read more Business
Jordan News