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Learn how businesses can survive and thrive in the current time

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Australian businesses are adapting to life in the time of COVID-19. With some quick thinking and a little ingenuity, small businesses across the country are finding opportunity in the lockdown and learning how to thrive in a recession.

Here, we outline four ways small and medium businesses can survive the pandemic, and share examples of those already doing it well.

Keep your business open and go digital

Since 2020, more businesses than ever have learned about why digital transformation is so important by taking their operations online, so they can remain open even while their doors are physically closed. After all, it’s hard to sell a pair of shoes or give a yoga lesson in person when you can’t get within 1.5 metres of your clientele.

Momentum Arts Studios, an urban dance school in Melbourne, is one small business who is making the most of the advantages of digital technology in business. With in-studio classes out of the question, Momentum decided to offer tutorials online. Students can download pre-recorded lessons and join in on live classes using freely available teleconferencing programs. Momentum offers these online classes at a discounted rate.

Other companies have adopted similar measures right across Australia, meaning small businesses, from gyms to choirs, have been able to retain their workforces in at least some capacity.

Embrace the importance of pivoting your business

Many Australian businesses have adapted to offer goods and services that better meet the needs of their existing customers – and capture new ones. Manly Spirits Co. and Stagekings are just two examples of businesses who have successfully pivoted their business during the pandemic.

Manly Spirits Co. made its name distilling artisanal gins and liqueurs in Sydney’s northern beaches. But when the realities of the pandemic sunk in, they began repurposing parts of their existing facilities to produce a different product: hand sanitiser. They’re onto a winner – their first batch of personal-use sanitiser sold out in a flash, and they’re taking orders for businesses looking to purchase commercial quantities.

Before the pandemic, Stagekings designed and built giant stages for concerts. When public events were cancelled, the company had to quickly pivot. With offices around the country closing their physical locations and moving to remote work, they decided to embrace a new pivoting business strategy. Now the Sydney outfit produces work-from-home desks. Within two weeks of adapting their offering, Stagekings sold more than 1,100 units. 

How could you pivot your startup?

According to the Digital 2020: Australia report a whopping 71 per cent of Australians use social media. And that was the figure back in January, before coronavirus had hit its stride. Since social isolating measures have been in place, people all over the world have increased their social media usage more than ever: Twitter has gained around 12 million more daily global users since the start of the crisis, and Facebook has reported unprecedented growth in its user activity.

This is good news for small businesses shifting their operations online. By using platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, businesses can continue to keep in touch with potential clients and stay in touch with existing clients during lockdown.

With no bricks-and-mortar stores, online wine retailer Vinomofo has relied on social media to take over their traditional customer service and grow its branding. The company uses Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to share stories, provide information about new wines and field customer queries. It’s a strategy your business might consider adopting during the lockdown – though you don’t need the excuse of a pandemic to strengthen your social media presence.

Just remember to stay on top of new comments and respond promptly to questions and feedback. After all, social media is as much a conversation as it is a branding exercise.

Consider setting up an online ordering system

To make up for the shortfall in foot traffic, Melbourne bakery All Are Welcome shifted its operations to include home delivery to surrounding suburbs. They worked quickly on setting up an ecommerce website and restructured the business to include a greater focus on pre-ordered bread and pastries. This would have been a serious undertaking just a few years ago, but with so many easy-to-install ecommerce store business platforms, the only thing you have to do is pick the right one for your business.

When you successfully set up an ecommerce website  you can increase sales, better predict demand and prepare the right amount of product, with less wastage. Just make sure you can always fulfil your orders if they come flooding in – consider setting daily limits if capacity is an issue. The last thing to do is to make sure your products make it safely to your customers: by post, by courier or hand-delivered in your own vehicle.

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