14th April, 2020

3 businesses thriving amid COVID-19

There are businesses surviving and thriving despite the COVID-19 lockdown. Here are three great examples.

Many agile and spirited small business owners have adapted to the restricted trading conditions with incredible speed.

Small businesses have been placed under tremendous pressure as people practice social distancing. Supply chains are challenged, consumer behaviour has changed and small businesses need to innovate, according to the chief executive of ActionCOACH ANZ, Paul Henshall.

“Those who market and sell better than their competition and make it more convenient for customers to get their hands on their goods, are the ones that will better this storm,” said Henshall.

“You might want to change your marketing messaging, relook at your supply chain, and make some changes to the way you operate on a day to day basis.

“With this pandemic or other supply chain issues, you might need to change the way you distribute, sell or deliver. Look carefully at where the missing links are.”

Henshall also said to consider if you need to deliver the product or service in a different model.

“You may have to source products from different suppliers to your prior sources because in some situations, the primary source for product or inventory might not be able to provide the quantity or timely delivery.

“This may be an opportunity to make a change that was already needed.”

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Taking the opportunity

When it comes to opportunities in small business, timing is a key factor.

With tons of businesses forced to close their doors, there are those who have surprisingly flourished due to everyone staying at home.

Below are three small businesses examples that are currently thriving.

UkeleMate thriving under lockdown.
UkuleleMate’s founder had to enlist his parents to assist with logistics. Image: supplied.

1. UkuleleMate

Self-isolating families have been quick to set some lofty goals to stave off the boredom. And one of those goals has been to learn to play the ukulele (particularly for parents wanting to ensure their kids don’t spend the next six months staring at TV shows).

This has been phenomenal news for a small family business in regional Victoria, UkuleleMate. Business has been booming amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with sales spiking by 350 percent.

The online business is run by Joel Carr, whose parents send out the orders.

One of the selling points has been an online Skype lesson with the company’s ukulele teacher, which has proven popular. This has prompted the company to move to hosting daily online video classes for the growing number of customers.

READ: Additional grants to support SMEs and startups

“Mum and Dad had to hook the trailer up to their ute to take all the parcels into their local post office,” said Carr.

The business started as a one-man operation in 2013, and is on track to do $1.4 million in sales this year.

Chef Peter Ford
Chef Peter Ford is keeping busy by adapting his catering business for lockdown. Image: supplied.

2. Peter Ford Catering

Ballarat catering company Peter Ford Catering was hit hard by the restricted trading conditions. Weddings, events and functions were immediately cancelled for the next six months and deposits returned to customers.

The renowned chef needed to think quickly and pivot within a couple of weeks to ensure his staff would continue to have jobs amid the trading restrictions.

Ford decided to relaunch a retail brand he had shelved because his business was booming on the back of the events sector. The Real Meal once had a favourite retail product for consumers wanting a restaurant quality meal at home.

He brought the brand out of retirement and relaunched it as a home-delivered, restaurant-quality meal for two, made with locally-sourced ingredients.

“The Real Meal is a wonderful way to eat well and support a local business, who in turn supports local suppliers and employs local people,” said Ford.

Peter Ford Catering has been trading for 20 years, mostly across regional Victoria.

AusAir face mask

AusAir is a local manufacturer of face masks. Image: supplied.

3. AusAir Face Masks

Entrepreneurial Australian brothers Issac and Elias Honor and lifelong friend Jack Graham are the creators of a face mask that allows you to breathe ‘pure’ Australian air.

READ: Where to focus your marketing efforts under lockdown

They’ve spent a lot of time and effort on creating the product, and just as they were about to go full-steam ahead into production, COVID-19 became a global issue.

This has given the business a ready-made market, prompting the company to ramp up production as demand for AusAir Face Masks hits fever pitch.

“With the unfortunate spread of Novel Coronavirus and the tragedy of the Australian bushfires, protection has really been at the forefront of people’s minds,” co-founder Isaac Honor says.

The business idea was inspired by a trip to China in 2017, where they were horrified to learn of the pollution in the air. They set out to design an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable solution with the health benefits of Australian botanicals.

The masks have won a number of design and entrepreneur awards and went viral on Kickstarter, raising over $1.1 million. The masks are in the final stages of production, which has now been ramped up to meet a ready-made, global demand.

The team has increased production from an initial 2,000 masks to 30,000.

Are you impacted by COVID-19 and the restrictions it’s placed on business activity? Head over to MYOB’s COVID-19 business resource hub for more information on what you can do to pivot, survive and thrive.