This week, I will be answering a question from one of my listeners, thanks Jay.
Jay commented on Facebook ‘I see this as a time of opportunity, where the status quo is all shaken up and those who are creative, confident and can lead, will come out on top….what kind of opportunities do you see [coming] out of this situation and how you can turn a bad time to your advantage?’ well, Jay…
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Funding for Micro Companies in Finland
First of all, it’s worth noting that there has been funding made available to micro-enterprises by the Finnish Government. This is called ELY-keskusten koronarahoitus (ELY-keskus Corona Funding). You can read more on the website of Ely-keskus (The Centre for Economic Development, Transport & the Environment) http://www.ely-keskus.fi/en/web/ely-en/questions-and-answers-on-corona-funding-from-ely-centres#3
Question: Who is the funding for?
The funding is intended for companies operating in Finland (oy, ay, ky, osk, private entrepreneurs), where a maximum of 5 persons work at the time the application is submitted (including the entrepreneur and entrepreneurs), whose business is suffering due to the coronavirus situation…
Question: How much funding can one receive?
A grant of up to EUR 10,000 to carry out a situation analysis, not exceeding 80% of the eligible costs on which the project is based. Costs of up to EUR 12,500, including indirect costs, can therefore be accepted in the decision.
A grant of up to EUR 100,000 to carry out development measures, not exceeding 80% of the eligible costs on which the project is based. Thus, the decision may cover no more than EUR 125,000 of costs, including indirect costs.
Therefore, in both cases of funding, 20% of other funding in addition to the grant is required from companies.
Question: What measures can be financed with funding for a situation analysis?
A situation analysis allows a company to review and plan:
- its business operations,
- new business activities,
- the organising of production and services during and after the market and production disruption caused by the coronavirus.
I’ve seen examples of a few different ways that companies have adapted to the recent situation which, although things are currently calm here in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, these might still be very relevant elsewhere in the world.
Making your products/services accessible
When the lockdown restrictions started in March 2020, restaurants were hit very hard and were unable to accommodate customers. One local restaurant in Seinäjoki, decided to get its food truck into action. If the customers cannot come to it, then it would go to its customers. Which was smart. In order to reach as many potential customers as possible, they needed to go to one of the large employers that still had people working on-site. They decided to set up adjacent to the hospital, serving a choice of meals at lunchtime on weekdays. Doubly smart. Kudos to Holy Smoke!
There is a Finnish company called ResQ Club, whose app allows restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores to offer their excess food to consumers at a discount price. Usually, after the busy lunchtime rush, offers appear on the app giving better value to the consumer and reducing food waste for the company. During the pandemic, ResQ adjusted their service a little, acting as an online ordering platform for regular priced meals. Enabling restaurants that don’t usually rely on web orders to maintain some level of business.
Another idea for small retailers is to offer home delivery or even a click-and-collect service. For those using services like iZettle, a package of point-of-sale hardware and software which includes stock management and also webshop functionality. In setting-up products on the system, they can then be offered online and this could be utilised for click-and-collect. Small retailers can offer an additional service that is useful to their community and brings customers to their shop. While customers can be sure they get the products they need and minimise the time they have to queue with other customers when they’re shopping.
Repurposing your workforce, production or products
I’m sure this has been seen all over the world, but also here in Etelä-Pohjanmaa there have been companies adapting their production to meet the needs of the local community. In this region, for example, there are many producers of alcohol and also textile manufacturers. When there was an initial threat of a shortage of hand sanitiser Pramia Oy, a producer of alcoholic drinks and plastic recycling plant, started producing hand sanitiser sold in its distinctive bottles. While Jokipiin Pellava quickly designed and produced face masks which could be found in local shops. OK, these are not mandatory in Finland, yet, but they may have just been ahead of the curve!
There was also this story from the UK, where the football club AFC Wimbledon (my team, as it happens) decided to repurpose an overstock of flags and turn those into face masks. The money made from this was given to good causes in their corner of South West London.
Taking your business online
OK, this may seem obvious, if you can’t travel to a workplace, then offer something online. This is easier to understand when it comes to buying goods but what about services?
There is now more acceptance of, or even requirement for, online meetings. Just look at the effect this had on Zoom, whose platform has made it easy to stream AND record meetings, presentations and podcasts etc. There are, however, opportunities to improve how people present themselves online. There is a new start-up, called mmhmm.app https://www.mmhmm.app/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8KhKBLoSMk whose software interacts with video streaming sites, giving you lots of interesting ways to manipulate the video you stream over Zoom, Google Meet, YouTube. Check out the link in the Show Notes.
I’ve also seen an example of a cancelled trade show being held online. If people cannot physically travel to a location, maybe there is a case for companies all meeting online. The main benefit to trade shows and exhibitions is that key players within an industry are all together in one place. If this cannot be done physically, then maybe it can be achieved online? Initially, it may feel more like a webinar but people will adapt. You will lose the potential for chance encounters or discoveries that come from wandering around an exhibition hall, but it will allow a degree of networking and presentation of new ranges or new products. Of course, someone can simply choose not to watch an online pitch but they can also choose not to stop at an exhibition stand.
This is a similar concept to gyms and health centres offering online fitness classes to continue to service their customers while they are at home. Yoga classes have been available online for years, for example, the Finnish company Yogaia Oy. I’ve also heard people talking about the Peloton bikes with a large screen attached for streaming and on-demand workouts. I’ve seen that my gym, Fressi, has the FressiTV service which offers live broadcasts and recordings of group and individual exercise classes in Finnish language.
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