26th March, 2020
Small businesses are looking for ways to implement new business models ahead of lockdown. In this article, Nina Hendy shares some advice for you to consider.
The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has tipped every small business in Australia into uncharted territory.
These unprecedented but necessary decisions taken by our State and Federal Governments to flatten the curve as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the globe has been particularly rough on small business owners.
A range of small businesses have been forced to shut their doors. This includes many hospitality businesses, play centres, swimming pools, gyms and fitness classes. It also extends to beauty therapy, tanning, massage and tattoo parlour operators.
It’s a wait and see game to see if and when authorities move to a total lockdown in Australia. This could see all non-essential services closed to stop the spread.
The Government has warned that it’s only a matter of time before this draconian measure comes into place.
And while businesses have had to move into the acceptance phase, the fact is that small businesses have long been celebrated for being agile. This could be their saving grace right now.
Here are some crucial steps Australian small businesses can take now to shift their business model in the wake of a national lockdown.
If you haven’t already made the shift to work from home, this should be implemented now.
Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins is one of the countless big businesses leading the way with work from home measures. She has told media that she asked all of her 870 staff to work from home last week.
If you’re in a service delivery sector, adding a virtual service or telephone consultations can be a saving grace for your business.
Add this information to your website and enable customers to book via an online calendar service such as Calendly. This can be implemented swiftly within a small business.
Look for ways to bolster the number of communication points you offer customers.
Social media, SMS, WhatsApp, video conference and webchat are great additional options to just offering a phone number.
Online art gallery Blue Thumb usually operates from a sunny gallery in Melbourne. But with the gallery now closed, the whole team have been working from home.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve always had a work from home day each week, and have remote workers on the team, so we have the tools set up already for this situation. This has made the transition very smooth,” said Blue Thumb’s Freddy Grant.
Daily morning Google Hangouts help the entire team set the structure for the day, he said.
Setting up video conferencing that can cater for the numbers of people in your small business can give staff some sense of normality by being able to see each other’s faces.
Other companies, such as Atlassian, has established virtual knock-off drinks once a week.
Bricks and mortar businesses should set their business up online as soon as possible.
You can set up an e-commerce platform reasonably quickly, or sell from a site such as Amazon, Shopify or Etsy.
You may want to shift popular stock items to your home and set up a distribution centre from there to keep your business ticking over.
Looking for ways to communicate with your customers to assure them during this difficult time has been a popular tactic for many small businesses.
Letting customers know whether you’re trading, and whether they can order online or if you’ve been in a delivery service, can help keep you trading.
A number of businesses have been implementing a home delivery service to keep trading as social distancing measures become more stringent.
Now is the time to explore a home delivery option. It’s unclear whether that will be allowed to remain in place after a lockdown is implemented.
Using this time to look for ways to innovate in your small business and find ways to do things better is a great use of time if you’re unable to trade, or trading at low levels.
For example, commit to use this time to update your website, build a bank of social media content, write a series of blogs to run at a later date.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to implement a project management software option.
This will enable all your staff, who are most likely going to be working from home if you’re still able to operate, to see what’s due and when.
This virtual brain for your small business allows users to create projects, group tasks and delegate those tasks to staff within the business.
Your cloud accounting platform should have a setting that enables you to automatically send out overdue invoices.
MYOB helps you get money in your pocket faster by automatically notifying your customers to pay their invoices. You can also set up unpaid invoice summaries to send your customers a monthly summary of unpaid invoices.
Small businesses can spend this time conducting a financial audit of their business.
Go through expenditure over the past six months and look for ways to cut or reduce outgoings where you can.
A range of stimulus packages at both State and Federal levels are being rolled out. Make sure you keep up to date with what you’re entitled to.
A number of financial institutions have also offered interest freezes and discounts, so be sure to check what you can take advantage of with your own providers.
If your business is impacted by COVID-19, MYOB recommends consulting with an accredited tax agent as soon as possible. Click here to find specialist advisors near you.