With a hesitant sense of normality starting to return to most of the Australian business landscape and restrictions on trade lifting, there’ll still be some heavy lifting to get your business humming again. But hum it can.
How have businesses changed?
It may be no surprise to you as a business owner, but prevailing health conditions have had an enormous impact on how SMEs operate.
“In June 2020, almost three quarters (73%) of all businesses reported that they were operating under modified conditions due to COVID-19,” Australian Bureau of Statistics.
That’s huge. These conditions include the need to innovate with new products and services, social distancing and hygiene, changes to work hours, changes to suppliers, and workforce alterations.
According to the same report by the ABS, at least two thirds of businesses are reporting reduced revenue from this time last year.
Only time will tell the true impact of COVID-19, but it’s clear that for Australian SMEs, some fresh thinking will be required.
Will they come back?
Treat all customers as though you’re winning them over all again.
Habits have changed, new conservative mentalities have formed, and you’ll have to navigate your business through it deftly. This will be even more onerous if your business involves physical contact and patronage of a premises.
With previous customers no longer used to a routine which includes visiting your business, you need to re-engage them with vigour.
Utilise all marketing and sales channels to encourage return business, with a focus on promos, hygiene information and a genuine appeal to community cooperation.
Get brutal about your offerings
Not all business lines and models will make it over the horizon. On the flipside, many more will open up and opportunity will be presented.
Long term success will always be predicated on your offerings. Have a look at your services and products – do they have a long shelf life? Will they possibly be redundant soon? What has been underperforming during COVID-19.
It might be time to abandon certain lines of diminishing revenue.
Do you see the market being altered by up and coming technology? Is a new portion of the market going to possibly open up in the next few years?
It’s hard to be exact when it comes to such predictions, but with a finger on the pulse, a sharp mind and some regular market research and reading, you should be able to make pretty solid predictions. In fact, the ability to do this is what top innovators and entrepreneurs possess to help them dominate a market before anyone else.
Hot Tip: A SWOT analysis can work wonders in this department. What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
Taking health seriously
Of course, you need to be serious about health right now. Nobody wants to scare their customers and we all have a communal interest in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but a lax approach to this may bite you.
A significant proportion of Australian businesses, such as your own, have been affected by these necessary measures.
“The most commonly reported [business] modifications were the introduction of new hygiene protocols and practices (65%), followed by limitations to the number of people on site (57%),” Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Not only are there legal requirements to improve your hygiene practices and enforce social distancing, there are business advantages in the form of trust.
Professionally advertise and promote your safety practices and ensure your customers and staff alike are fully aware of the current conditions. Customers need to feel they can trust you, so don’t be shy about making your seriousness known.
Market with confidence
Come out swinging. Your marketing will need to be enhanced due to changed consumer behaviour. Fresh patterns will have taken root in your customers and they’ll be used to engaging with different brands and businesses in new ways. You’ll need to cut right through all of that.
As always, start with current customers and court their return with email newsletters, social media blasts and earnest messaging.
This could also be a perfect time for a rebrand, especially if your services and product lines have changed. You may very well be a different business coming out of this, perhaps it’s time to embody these changes and reflect them in your branding?