Business owners hoping for a return to normalcy for the world and their business are likely to be left behind as other Australian companies turn to innovation to survive and thrive, writes Claire Wilson, head of the Alternative Board.
After the old playbook had to be thrown out, at The Alternative Board we’ve seen several examples of businesses innovating and adapting to get themselves through the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive on the other side.
Businesses that have embraced the change and stopped looking back at what they used to be and how their old model used to work are the ones that have been successful in handling the pandemic.
We’ve seen types of business from right across the spectrum look at what they’re good at and what assets they have and think about those skills in a different way, allowing them to stay viable in a world where many are crumbling.
But in stressful times, that’s a very difficult thing to do. Taking a risk in business at any time is difficult, and not everyone has a mind for innovation.
That’s why getting independent, expert advice and consultation can be so helpful – a successful future could be right in front of your face and you might not see it.
These are just four examples of the types of innovation happening across Australia and New Zealand:
1. Boosting existing services:
Sohovian operated co-working spaces and services offices to other businesses, so when the world started working from home, they lost almost all their leases. Owner Anna James worked with The Alternative Board to determine what her business could provide given the old business model no longer applied. She realised that she had a telephone answering service offered as part of the previous model and saw that working from home meant a likely increase in telephone communications between workers. So she pivoted the business into a telephone answering business – and it’s thriving.
2. Applying existing skills among staff:
A cosmetic business that had to shut down all operations due to COVID-19, owner Tom Parmakellis looked at the skills his team had and consulted on what other tasks they might be able to do. His business moved to COVID antibody testing and developed an entirely new income stream that allowed him to keep his team employed as well as offer community services.
3. Altering the model
The Good Place is a café chain that had to close down during the pandemic, but the response from their customers showed them how much their product was valued. So the owner changed to a delivery service which has now outstripped the original dine in business in terms of success.
4. Adapting existing assets
Mad Campers are a New Zealand company that lost most of its business when tourists stopped visiting the country. With the assistance of TAB, they looked at the assets they had and realised their expertise in fixing vans could be useful. So they started buying old vans, renovating them and selling them and used their existing campers for other purposes – accommodation on building sites, temporary accommodation for people moving house, and more.
From these examples and more, there’s been a consistent thread – it’s those who have accepted their circumstances and sought consultation on a new way forward that have survived, and in some cases, thrived.
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