COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works for many businesses, with a shrinking economy and unemployment on the rise. Cash flow and sources of capital have been disrupted and without targeted action, businesses could be in deep trouble.
So for business owners who are struggling to stay the course and stay out of ruts, now might be the best time to try something new. SmartCompany spoke to three experts in their fields to gather tips suited to any budget for getting ahead of the curve.
1. Stay focussed on your customer
Gearing your business towards a customer-centric approach is possible on any budget.
Melanie Wiese, chief strategy officer at brand agency Meerkats, says the deepest impact from the pandemic is the uncertainty through all industries. But this period can create “the space, imperative and opportunity to enhance your consumer centricity”.
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“Businesses that use the time and money well will emerge with stronger relationships, better products and less waste.”
“Focus on your customer and on being helpful, versus exploiting opportunities. Then invest in your people,” Wiese says. “If you build products your people are passionate about to meet real consumer challenges, you’ll have passionate innovation you can monetise and feel good about.”
2. Seek out alternative finance options
“We’re likely to see several quarters of negative growth due to the economic fallout from the pandemic,” says Cameron Owens, CEO of Radium Capital.
“But nimble businesses that accelerated their offerings or pivoted to new ones during the crisis will be well placed to continue to invest.”
Owens says there’s been a surge in demand for Radium’s services. The company finances research and development advances for business owners. This can be an alternative finance option as traditional income sources dry up.
“We’re seeing businesses turn to R&D advances to keep their R&D programs on track through the pandemic, while others need new R&D in order to survive,” he says.
“To combat the capital scarcity, businesses should understand which grants and incentives they’re eligible for. And remember, these can vary by geographical location and industry sector.”
“Keep an open mind and explore alternative forms of capital such as R&D finance.”
3. Improve your digital presence
Jeremy Thorpe, chief economist at PwC Australia, observes that the pandemic has forced businesses to pivot to digital. Especially businesses that lacked a strong digital presence pre-COVID.
“It might not sound much, but they’re doing things that they’ve never done before out of necessity.”
Steps as simple as setting up a basic online shopfront can make all the difference. And for those looking to get creative — the world wide web is your oyster. You can modify your approach to suit any budget using social media, webinars, podcasts and more.
Thorpe says customers are mirroring and rewarding the agility of businesses to adapt.
“I think even when we go back to some form of normality, we will see some of that being retained both from the business perspective and from the customer perspective.”
Despite the challenges in funding and other financial arrangements businesses will face in the coming weeks, Thorpe is optimistic.
“I think we’ll come away thinking about the new opportunities in technology and the supply chain. You could come out of this really negative. But I would prefer to say it’s exposed opportunities and exposed the willingness of people to try new things.”
“And that’s got to be a good thing, if you’re an entrepreneur.”
At Radium, financing R&D tax advances is all we do. We’re experts in helping businesses reinvest their own money sooner because we’re passionate about helping businesses of all sizes grow.