The Covid-19 experience for most has been a time for significant change especially in the SME world, but this wasn't the only thing to impact Australia in 2019/2020. It has been characterised as a year of flat and very little growth, tight margins, and a long drought followed by the worst bushfire season in Australia's history - to say we weren't off to the most positive start, would be a gross understatement.
With the arrival of Covid-19 the already shaky business sector was placed under intense pressure. Significant but necessary public health measures were promptly put in place to reduce or eliminate the transmission and effect of the virus on the general population. In Australia specifically this meant that hospitality, tourism and retail sectors pretty much shut up shop overnight, while other industries and businesses were negatively impacted by reduced traffic and sales activity, this in turn placed even more pressure on a business sector already struggling to survive, as the world adjusted to a new type of normal.
With the escalation of impact on businesses the Federal Government implemented stimulus packages for Australian businesses, alleviating some of the pressure for a short time, businesses then needed to pose the questions;
Do they restart their business?
When do they restart?
How do they reposition their business for sustainability then growth?
Who needs to be a part of the team as they rebuild?
How to ensure their cashflow supports startup plans, without emptying the bank.
With this in mind there are three major factors to consider:
Fatigue and exhaustion of business owners and managers, not surprisingly this is right up there. This group had little left in their emotional tank when lockdown was implemented, simply because of the challenging trading and business conditions in the previous 12 months, add in a lack of control in the decision making and direction due to Covid-19 and it's no wonder these business owners and managers are feeling so overwhelmed.
Potential sales activity and revenue forecasts, unfortunately no one can confidentially make assumptions here as it is contingent on both business and consumer confidence, which are both presently trending down until mid-2021.
And lastly but certainly not least the well being of our people, the engine room of our businesses. In March/April 2020 over 3 million Australasians either lost their jobs or had their hours or pay reduced. Our people are struggling, employees are fatigued and exhausted. Good businesses are shutting down and business and customer IP is walking out the door.
It's certainly not all bad, and you'd be correct in asking where to now?
New ways of working have been implemented during the lockdown, and some aspects of that labour flexibility may need to continue and become the norm for some businesses. This can also provide an opportunity for businesses to reduce their office rental footprint and costs. Most businesses will now be heavily invested in cloud computing solutions. These are likely to remain, providing a technological platform for expanded remote worker operations, including online meetings which should reduce business travel demands and costs. Leaders and managers will need to continue to demonstrate high levels of resilience and leadership. They are navigating their business through an array of challenges , many of which are out of their control, so communication and flexibility will be core to their messaging and performance.
It becomes clear now that if you manager your way out of chaos in a logical pragmatic and fiscally sustainable way, you and your business will be well positioned in 2021 to potentially ride the wave of growth.
If you want to find out more surrounding our research and statistics, and assess your business with our free business status checklist and solutions that can work for you and your business, download out white paper: Building the Bridge to Post Covid-19 Tomorrow