Already 2020 has delivered Australian business a series of challenges. The year kicked off with horrific bushfires, swiftly followed by an unexpected pandemic that is proving far-reaching and more widespread than many of us imagined.
You can gain an insight into what the Federal Government has on the table in terms of business aid for Coronavirus impacts here. But in the meantime, let’s look at how businesses can best position themselves to weather the storm.
Don’t be a lemming
Right now, there’s a lot of concern about the unknown and that’s manifesting in unusual behaviour like panic buying and stress.
Although the negative headlines are hard to avoid, this is not time to join a lineup of lemmings, following each other over the edge of the cliff.
Instead this is the moment to look at your business model with clarity, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats through the lens of coronavirus impact.
What areas of your business are likely to be affected most? Is it reduced demand for face-to-face services? Increased demand for products? How will your staff be affected? What about events you have planned?
Considering the situation may get worse before it gets better, what are the possible long-term implications when it comes to business forecasting and the bottom line?
Have a plan
Once you’ve considered the possible implications and long-term impacts for your business, it’s time to come up with a plan. And it’s a great excuse to think laterally and creatively, calling on technology when required.
For example, right about now the real estate industry is a sector where both technology and creativity can be employed.
Rather than hosting open homes, agents are embracing virtual walk-throughs of properties for sale. These might be via Facebook Live or using more professional videography. An agent may also choose to live-stream the walk-through and answer questions from prospective buyers as they go.
The question is, can you employ similar tools in your sector at a time where people are beginning to limit face-to-face contact with each other?
An accountant or financial advisor may be able to meet with their clients virtually, but what about a hairdresser where the nature of the industry is services in-person?
In this case, you might need to get a little more creative and attentive with policies like hygiene, and be very open about the preventative measures you are taking.
Tell clients exactly what you are doing to mitigate risk. Meanwhile, this is also a great opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in the field, looking at building patronage for when the crisis is over.
So with a lull in clients, you may turn your attention to offering home beauty tips like how to style hair when there’s a prolonged delay in getting a haircut.
This is setting you up on the advertising front, in the knowledge people will be back because you have assisted them.
Liaise with staff
How you treat your staff over the coming months will be one of the elements that consumers assess when the crisis is over.
Be clear with your staff regarding your policies for sick days, sick leave, self-isolation and possible closures. Liaise with them about the implications for the business.
Be open to allowing staff to work from home where possible. Be clear with the public the staff safeguards you have in place.
Be aware they may be dealing with the fallout on other more personal fronts. Their children may be sent home from school, their partner may be off work etc.
Above all, remain in communication with staff as the situation changes.
Supporting each other
This is the opportunity to support each other in business, as the Federal Government recently noted. This is the time to pay your smaller suppliers on time or in advance of an invoice falling due.
This is the time to source products locally, to pledge your patronage to each other, to reward other businesses who are doing the right thing by their staff and their clients.
In short, this is the time to stick together.
The final word
The next few months may test small business in ways they have never been tested within living memory. However just as swiftly as this crisis evolved, it will likely resolve.
How you plan for it, engage with your clientele and support your staff will differentiate the winners from the losers when we inevitably emerge out the other side.
We understand that this is a trying time for our readers and members in the BBB Community for those looking for a little extra one on one support please be encouraged to book a complimentary call with me here