During COVID-19, most companies have had to think fast and stay agile in order to survive. Some have found new opportunities altogether.
For instance, most of us know the story about Detmold, the SA food packaging company who started making masks back in March 2020. Other SME success stories across Australia include manufacturing firm Almec, a bespoke sheet metal fabrication business that helped supply gaps in the market for medical and building supplies, and logistics software provider Shippit, which quickly “went lean” early in the pandemic. Despite some early challenges and difficult layoffs, they then saw sales volumes triple during shutdown as millions of people started to work from home.
These success stories sound exciting (and they are), but with so much in the near future still unknown, the days of business reinvention and diversifying aren’t over. With that in mind, here are our recommendations on four things to do now to ensure your business can remain flexible and shift focus if needed in the months and years ahead:
1. Get leaner
We’ve worked with numerous clients who have taken the opportunity during COVID to look at their business operations and find ways to increase efficiencies, explore new digital solutions, eliminate waste and improve operations. Some have created or improved their online presence, opened e-commerce sites or made process improvements. If you do have to make a major shift due to another crisis, ensuring you have the right processes in place and eliminating waste can make things much easier.
2. Improve cash flow and secure capital
Companies that had cash on hand and access to working capital during the early days of COVID were able to withstand an initial drop in sales and hold on to employees – and in many cases, they had money to spend on supplies and tools that allowed them to diversify or stay afloat.
3. Ask questions, listen and communicate
Businesses that have done best during COVID have not only identified a need in the marketplace, but have done a good job of keeping in touch regularly with their employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners. Even if news was not always good, the fact that the lines of communication were open helped build loyalty and trust, and helped teams connect remotely.Some of the best online tools to keep in touch and organise work teams are free or low-cost, such as MailChimp, Slack and Zoom.
4. Meet with – or find – a great accountant
A professional accounting team is important for businesses at any time, but having a trusted financial and business consultant on your side is critical now. They can assist you in so many ways, for example, improving business processes, cutting costs, and setting up digital tools that can make it easier to run your business from any location.