Pivoting your business in a time of change
No matter what line of work you’re in, you’ve probably been doing things differently over the past few weeks. For many businesses, that has meant transitioning to remote working. Others have been forced to implement innovative strategies, just to stay afloat.
Here we give you practical tips on making the most of challenging or quiet times, and a few examples of businesses that have successfully adapted and innovated.
Tip 1. Change up your offering
Many businesses have been forced to innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cafes and pubs are offering take-away and home delivery. Face-to-face meetings are being conducted through video conferencing. And shop-front retailers have switched to selling online.
Some Australian businesses have had to get more creative in changing up their business model. Stagekings is a great example.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stagekings1 was hit hard by the government’s restrictions – along with the entire entertainment industry. With no sport, performances or events in the foreseeable future, their entire 2020 plans and the revenue that came with them were cancelled within 48 hours. But that didn’t deter them.
While some cuts were inevitable, the Stagekings team got to thinking about what they could do to retain their loyal, hardworking employees. The solution? They leveraged their design skills to start building desks.
This brilliant idea not only catered to an unprecedented demand for work-at-home desks, it kept a number of skilled carpenters in work. Stagekings now has an online store featuring a popular range of desks and accessories, along with record crates and wine racks.
They have even branched out to acrylic counter guards to help protect retail staff and customers from the coronavirus. Now that takes some pretty incredible foresight.
Best of all, $10 from each desk goes to Support Act, a fundraiser to help musicians who have found themselves out of work thanks to COVID-19.
The way Australian distilleries have adapted is another refreshing example of how to pivot in a crisis. With an immediate downturn in sales when hotels were forced to close, distilleries like Archie Rose2 turned to producing much-needed hand sanitiser. Another clever response to changing supply and demand.
Tip 2. Skill up
Take stock of your skill set and work out where the gaps lie. What are your competitors doing to give them the edge? How can you enhance your existing services? What could be done more efficiently?
Once you’ve determined the gaps, you can look at upskilling (even if it’s to replace your daily commute time). There are thousands of affordable courses covering just about everything. And right now, you’ll find many face-to-face training businesses have pushed their courses online at a reduced price.
Once things get back to normal, you’ll have extra skills or qualifications to take your business further, or chase that dream role.
Tip 3. Refresh your digital assets
When you’re busy with the day-to-day running of your business, maintaining your website and social media accounts tends to take a back seat. So, if you have more time on your hands thanks to a downturn in business, it’s the perfect time to get your digital assets sorted. As a virtual shopfront for your business, it’s important to keep everything up to date.
Start with your website. Is your information current? Do you have new work to upload? New team members to introduce? If you want to give your website a complete overhaul, there are some great DIY website templates available. Popular template building sites include Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.
It’s also a good idea to look at your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is where you make sure the copy on your site aligns with what people are searching for on search engines. Get it right, and you’ll have your business on the first page of Google, where potential customers can find you. Think about it: when was the last time you searched for something and clicked through to the second page of the search results?
If you want to learn about SEO, Kate Toon has a range of courses available on her website, from a free SEO Nibbles course for beginners, to the full Recipe for Success course.
If you don’t have time, you may want to consider hiring an SEO copywriter. After all, what’s the point of having a whiz-bang website if nobody can find you?
Tip 4. Do some good
If you have time on your hands and want to keep your skills up to speed, helping those in need is a wonderful thing to do. Charities are doing it tough right now, and need more help than ever before.
If you’re in marketing, you could provide tips on how to drive donations. If you’re in hospitality, you could put together hampers for the vulnerable. Or if you have a car sitting dormant, you could offer to help the elderly with their shopping. It could even be as simple as daily phone call to a lonely senior - your friendly voice could really make their day.
Like many businesses, you may want to highlight your charitable work on your social accounts. Just be very cautious with tone – you don’t want to look like you’re PR-ing your business to profit from a crisis. If in doubt, hire a professional content editor.
For a list of charities in your area, you can head to volunteering website volunteer.com.au, or offer your services through the Gumtree Local Legends site. Whatever you do will make all the difference to those in need, and you’ll feel pretty great about it too.
More useful information and tips
Read more from QBE around protecting and running your small business on our useful articles and news page including:
- Employer guide: Your duty of care
- How to protect your business from cyber crime: SME Cyber Security Guide
- Employees working from home? Now’s not the time to micromanage