THE Covid-19 pandemic has taught small business owners to adapt and innovate to the “new way of doing things.”

For Sandra Namocatcat, owner of the Cebu Music Learning Center, shifting to online classes saved her from incurring too much loss due to the lockdown.

“We were caught by surprise during the enhanced community quarantine. We thought it was only for a short while. When the lockdown dragged on, that’s when we decided that we have to innovate,” she told SunStar Cebu.

Summer is usually the busiest season for Namocatcat as a lot of students enroll for music summer lessons. But when the outbreak struck Cebu and the lockdown was implemented, the music classes and activities were suspended.

But she quickly turned to offering online music lessons to still reach out to students who are locked down in their homes. The past months also taught her to properly handle finances while she waits for her business to resume operations.

Anna Maglasang, owner of Tony Gs Foodcourt by Ned Nanay’s Grill, initially saw how the lockdown “immensely diminished” their sales when the dining option in restaurants was prohibited by the local government.

“After Covid-19, we are expecting that we cannot fully recover as to how we used to operate. But we are looking towards strengthening our take-out and delivery services, especially with the reinforcement from our key delivery partners like Grab Food, Foodpanda and Lalamove,” she said.

The pandemic taught Maglasang to innovate and to think out of the box. Despite the logistical challenges, she said there are always ways to move things through proper and careful planning.

She urged the public to cooperate and follow rules while on lockdown as this is the only way the community can fast-track its economic reboot while waiting for the vaccine.

“No one is exempted from the vulnerabilities of the virus... We can’t enjoy again the privileges we used to have if we don’t sacrifice and strictly follow the rules,” she said.

Creative, adaptive

Don Canama, owner of City Laundry and co-owner of Lure Bar and Grill, said no business is spared from the lingering effects of the Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdowns.

“We need to shorten our operating hours for our laundry shop while the bar had to completely shut down in compliance with government guidelines and protocols,” he said.

However, the pandemic taught him and his staff to become creative and adaptive.

“We need to shift everything online, because this is the new normal. Almost everyone is buying online already. If we won’t adapt, we’ll lose the ball game,” he said.

The lockdown, Canama said, was both a curse and a blessing.

“It’s a curse because we need to shut down so income stops. But we still have a lot of expenses coming in. But it’s a blessing as well, because it made us more grateful and appreciative about life. It’s not always about money, because family and friends matter more,” he added.

The power of the internet and social media channels has also helped Henry Bunagan III, proprietor of Uke Hub Kafe and sales and marketing head of the New Susing’s Guitar in Lapu-Lapu, survive these tough times.

He said they shifted their marketing strategies online to still reach out to customers who now have plenty of time to surf the internet. But while they made their business active in the digital marketplace, Bunagan is uncertain what is in store for them in the coming days as their business largely depends on tourism.

“Our business relies heavily on the tourism industries of Lapu-Lapu and Cebu cities. With a tourist and travel ban still in place, we don’t see much in the near future. Hence, we are positioning ourselves to cater to the local communities in the coming months,” he said.