It’s going to take more than government relief packages to get Australia’s small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, according to a business analyst who has encouraged SMEs to begin thinking through the post pandemic phase of their operations.
CQUniversity entrepreneur, business coach and academic researcher Dr Andrew Roberts made clear business owners should be taking action now to facilitate the return to operations after the shutdown, especially as SMEs will be facing a “different world” when social distancing restrictions are eased.
“Just like after the Global Financial Crisis, I think whole industries will be reorganised and reoriented,” said Roberts.
Understanding the changing customer behaviour that will accompany this shift is crucial to weathering it as a small business. Even as face-to-face establishments begin to reopen, many people will still rely on “the digital world”, emphasising the need for SMEs to invest in their online presence in a lasting way now.
Even businesses that have resisted digitisation this far into the pandemic stand to benefit in a big way if they go digital to harness the predicted post pandemic trends.
Roberts has encouraged businesses to conduct client surveys on Facebook and otherwise loop customers into consistent updates, to create a “stickiness” with them.
“Owners can reach out – as start-ups often to – to customers, and involve them in creation of the new business model,” he said.
“Do some scenario planning, think about the worst-case scenario, and the best-case – going back to your business plan is a good way to stay above the chaos, and for building a recovery strategy.
“I’d ask owners to delve into the courage they had when they started the small business in the first place. They’re more adaptable than they give themselves credit for," he concluded.