It’s positive news that so many SMEs can metaphorically open their doors for business at Level 2 –we just may have to sanitise our expectations. And, as Jacinda Ardern explains; ‘They [businesses] all must play it safe and that means doing things differently.’
The underlying meaning of this isn’t lost on SMEs and start-ups, and while ‘cafes, restaurants, tourism operators, sports clubs, libraries, cinemas and gyms will all be able to throw open their doors (NZ Herald)’, B2Bs and SMEs are facing a long and bumpy road ahead. Consider, for example, that 70% of the country’s SMEs want the wage subsidy extended past the initial 12-week plan.
| What can we learn from COVID-19?
If you caught Stuff’s recent Q and A with Gavin Lennox, he was asked about the biggest thing he’s learnt over the past few weeks.
‘I would say the importance of a reasonably strong balance sheet to buy time, closely followed by how important the team and community is to get through this situation. Everyone's been dealing with something that no one in their lifetimes has had to manage – it's brought people closer together I think.’
One big question we hear frequently is: ‘how can I recoup my losses and then grow from such a disadvantaged start line?’ All businesses will absorb the impact of COVID-19 in different ways, and now is the time to look ahead.
We’re awash with advice about innovation, flexibility and a ‘new normal’ – but what does it mean for you? Right now, that means being realistic and hitting the ground running. Can you be cautious and brave? There are plenty of things you can do right now:
Communicate with existing clients
You’ve worked on being flexible and innovative in looking after your teams and enabling them to work effectively. Now is the time to adopt the same approach with your clients. It’s okay to get talking to your long-term and most loyal customers and ask them what they want from you in level 2. How have their needs and expectations changed in 2020? Can you reposition yourself to meet their changing demands?
Follow those leads… further
You will have identified growth opportunities and possible new revenue streams in 2019. This doesn’t have to change now. Trust in your sales team to keep on doing the great job they were doing pre-COVID-19. Are there any new (or neglected) sales channels you can exploit or any innovative approaches you can adopt? Remember we’re still physical distancing, so how can you make it easier for your customers to buy from you?
Prepare for increased demand
The best case scenario, and one we’re all hoping for, is that the post-COVID-19 economic recovery will be fast. So, when we think about an increase in demand, we’re not just talking about retailers shifting physical product here.
Think about services, too. Can you meet any unexpected upturn in how you deliver what you offer? Should you consider alternative supply chain options? Of course, trying to measure and anticipate customer demand is hard at the best of times. So, above all, get visible. Customers will want to hear from you!
Check out our dedicated resource for businesses impacted by COVID-19. It’s full of useful information and resources, support and offerings, funding opportunities and partnership and coaching details.
For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs.