Many businesses are feeling the effects of COVID-19, and in mainstream media the negative ones have been extensively covered.
We know that the global pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the economy, with the RBA making an unscheduled record-breaking interest rate cut yesterday and the government announcing a $17.6 billion stimulus package.
As we see an increase in self-isolation each day, it’s clear that there will an overall decrease in consumption. This will largely affect the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Dynamic Business would like to take a different approach today and focus on the more positive stories surrounding coronavirus. It may seem hard to wrap your head around any positives, but it’s definitely not all doom-and-gloom as is often depicted in major publications.
Businesses are adapting, whether it’s their marketing strategies, increasing digitalisation of services, implementing working from home strategies, testing new processes… and from such change we can usually take away some learnings for the better.
Although this time will be difficult for everyone, and mostly small businesses and sole traders, we hope to bring you some more hopeful stories, positive insights and provide you with some free helpful resources to utilise during this challenging period.
Free resources are explained in a seperate article post, which include the below. If you’d like to head straight there, click here.
- Wrike – project management software
- Atlassian products and services (tech workplace solutions)
- Workplace from Facebook
- Employsure’s resource hub for employers
- Storyberries – for parents
- MYOB – for parents
Businesses are coping, or even seeing an increase in revenue
It’s obvious to point out that surgical mask companies (such as the Tecmask story), toilet paper companies and pasta companies have seen an increase in revenue since the outbreak.
However, there are – in fact – other examples across different industries that have seen a positive, whether that’s through revenue directly, or by experimenting with other projects and discovering new ways of working.
Moving from events to other options
Jonathan Englert, the founder of Andiron Group, has seen disruption in the communications industry for example, and with that some key learnings also.
“In the communications and marketing space we are seeing a rapid re-allocation of budget from live events and marketing activities to communications, PR, content, webinars, etc.”
Jonathan recognises that the damage that COVID-19 will cause is still largely unknown and terribly worrying, but thinks this could be a time to pull together as businesses and partners, as well as re-invent and reshape how we communicate, experimenting with new forms and discovering more effective ways of connecting that were slow-tracked before the current situation.
“We are actually seeing companies plunk down budget for comms work based on refunded/cancelled industry expos and trade shows in a test of whether there is a better way to cut through.”
Non-essential items are also seeing an increase in sales
Another small business seeing an increase in revenue, perhaps surprisingly, is Aussie beauty brand Cangro.
Known for their eyelash and brow growth serums, they have seen an unexpected sales growth all thanks to an unusual trend in recent buying behaviour. People staying at home has led to an increase in online browsing.
“We had been seeing so many stories in the media and from other members of the business community on how the virus had negatively impacted their business, we were sure that was going to be us,” said co-founder Felecia.
Belinda Robinson and Felecia Tappenden were unexpectedly surprised when they saw the complete opposite – a substantial increase in figures – after monitoring the numbers since the outbreak started.
“Our traffic and website session durations have increased, paired with the feedback from customers and retailers, proves to us that customers are still wanting to make purchases and that they are now using that additional spare time to browse online at home,” co-founder Belinda said.
For a business like Cangro, that is almost entirely built from online purchases, it’s proving to be a withstanding business model. Cangro products are made in Australia, so they have not been impacted by haulted production in China like many other businesses.
Similar to this example of Cangro, with social distancing and self-isolation measures in place and many Australians choosing to shop online rather than venture out to stores, MAISON de SABRÉ has also seen increased sales.
While sales of grocery and hygiene products have been going through the roof as a result of consumer stockpiling… interestingly shoppers are also increasing their spend on non-essential products and personal luxuries.
MAISON de SABRÉ, the Australian online luxury personalised leather accessories brand has seen a 45% increase in sales in recent weeks compared to last year. Co-founder, Zane Sabre, attributes this to Covid-19, as more people are staying home and turning online to shop.
Some lenders still lending, cancelled events credited
Stepping away from retail, we asked Heath Fitzpatrick, Chief Operating Officer at Ebroker, for his opinion on any non-doom-and-gloom stories.
He has said that there is a mix of reactions in the lending industry, with some lenders stopping, some tightening and others full steam ahead. So it’s not all bad news at the moment.
“One area that is getting smashed, however, is the communities that are getting behind them [lenders] in local events.”
“I am a partner in an event company and while we are impacted greatly (we basically turned from a profit to breakeven small loss in a day), the positive feedback on taking credits to forward events or movement to another so these small business can operate with cash flow, has been pretty amazing to see.” This of course links to what Jonathan Englert of Andiron group is seeing directly as a communications business.
“The other area that I have seen a positive impact is the locally owned small business corner stores. It is a shame panic buying has driven it, however, they are seeing consumers return and spend per shop higher.”
Of course, each and every business is facing challenges, and it is difficult to fully celebrate successes of some whilst others suffer tremendously. However, it’s important to recognise that there is a great sense of resilience and Business As Usual with many small business owners that we hope to highlight.
CBD based businesses are adapting
A great example of this is the small physiotherapy business in Sydney’s CBD, FixPhysio, which has adapted its services creatively in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
With an increase in appointment cancellations due to people working from home or having cold/flu symptoms, business owner Mike Blackwell has decided to launch telehealth/video conferencing calls, as well as home visits. This has been put in place in a matter of days.
Using Physiapp, the clinic aims to deliver sessions via video conferencing in order to continually assist clients with their injuries. As well, they will be able to visit clients in their own houses, performing usual health and safety checks as well as implementing strict guidelines relating to the outbreak (such as not visiting homes with at-risk people).
Although the clinic is looking at reducing working hours overall, this is a positive step in introducing alternative services to clients during this time but also in future. This is a great example of how digitalisation can help small businesses in times of difficulty.
Positive outcomes regarding flexible working
Co-founder of FlexCareers, Joel McInnes, believes there are positive consequences of COVID-19 that specifically relate to remote and flexible working.
He said, “The ability for organisations to quickly mobilise and manage teams working remotely is now a business necessity. We are currently moving from remote working being a ‘nice to have’ to being essential for business continuity.”
“Managers across all industries are having to learn how to manage effectively remotely, focusing on outcomes-based performance management, trust and communication.
“Once the situation normalises and remote working is no longer mandatory, we will see a second wave of change come through.
“Employees will have different expectations of their employers, where people can work from home in a way that allows them to improve their work life balance and also pursue their careers, whatever their responsibilities or interests outside of work.
“With the bias, stigma and barriers around remote working removed, organisations will have access to wider and more diverse talent pools to boost productivity and remain competitive.”
As FlexCareers is a company that aims to help people (both employees and employers) with achieving flexibility at work, we asked how they had adapted their services in recent days.
Joel said that in this unprecedented public health crisis they have designed a new service.
“We have designed new training services tailored to the current disruption being experienced by the majority of employers. These include a variety of sessions to help managers approach remote working positively, set up the right processes to protect productivity and support teams with their physical and mental wellbeing.”
In these uncertain times, we hope Dynamic Business can provide real-time coverage which includes both the realistic ups and the downs as well as insights, advice and helpful resources for your small business.