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As the dust starts to settle and Melbourne slowly begins to emerge from the chaos of 2020, now is a time to celebrate, reconnect with loved ones and take stock of your business.

Sadly, many businesses didn’t survive the lockdowns, others crawled their way out battered and bruised. Some thrived off of the madness. Regardless of how your business fared, there will have no doubt been valuable lessons learned.

If you were lucky enough to be in the right industry and smart enough to quickly adapt to the new environment, you’ve probably already taken that sigh of relief and are looking towards the future.

In many ways the Melbourne Coronavirus lockdowns will have made the businesses that survived them stronger. Now that we know how fragile our reality is and how quickly things can change, we know we need to be prepared for anything. Whether it be a third covid wave, the economic downturn to come or all out nuclear war, we know we need to be ready. The world has changed and the future is no longer even remotely certain.

So, your business survived Melbourne’s covid lockdowns. What do you do next?

I don’t claim to be a ‘business expert’, if that’s even a thing, and I certainly never graduated from business school. But, I do run a business that is in a fairly unique position to gain insights from what other businesses are doing to prepare for the continued uncertainty. As an agency with a lot of B2B clients, we are tasked with designing and building digital strategies and products for organisations of all sizes and shapes. Based on what we are seeing forward thinking organisations doing, my advice is as follows:

 

  1. Create multiple revenue streams
  2. Think mobile-first
  3. Don’t stop innovating
  4. Double down on marketing
  5. Appreciate your customers
  6. Work on workplace culture

1. Create multiple revenue streams

Of course every business would love to have multiple revenue streams. It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to understand that diversifying your offering reduces risk to your business. Covid has been a wake up call though. A kick in the pants to those who knew they should diversify but never got around to it. Diversification is no longer a nice-to-have. The survival of your business could literally depend on it.

2. Think mobile-first

I own a mobile agency, so of course I’m going to sing the praises of mobile. But I can honestly say, never has a mobile-first strategy been more important than right now. Mobile usage was already on a bull run before Covid struck, but the lockdowns sealed its fate. The simple fact is, more people browse the internet on their phones than they do on their computers. It’s been that way for years and app use (which accounts for over 90% of time spent on mobile) amplifies the effectiveness of mobile even further. The future is here and it is mobile. A business without a mobile strategy is a business without a digital strategy. Start with mobile as the centrepiece of your digital ecosystem and work your way outwards. That’s how consumers are using mobile.

3. Don’t stop innovating

Obviously some industries have been impacted far more than others by the stay-at-home orders and non-essential workplace bans. Live music venues, for example, have not done nearly as well as toilet paper manufacturers. But if we look at it from an industry-agnostic perspective, the winners were the innovators. The businesses that thought outside the box and found innovative new ways to distribute, repackage and reimagine their products and services to cater to the new environment. The lesson here is to keep on innovating. Don’t just keep up with trends. Find ways to push your industry forward and create a culture of innovation inside your business. This way you’ll be on the front foot when it comes to the crunch.

4. Double down on marketing

As the adage goes: “When times are good you should advertise. When times are bad you must advertise”. When revenue shrinks, cutting costs becomes inevitable and marketing budgets are usually first on the chopping block. Most of us know this isn’t a good idea but for many businesses, especially those who don’t rely on Adwords as their sole source of revenue, an ad budget seems a lot less essential than, say, staff salaries or rent. That may be the case, but unless you can ensure ongoing revenue, there will be nothing to pay staff and no need for a premises. I know that’s an over-simplification but doubling down on marketing to sure up your cash flow could be the best way to protect the other aspects of your business. A happy landlord, on the other hand, probably won’t do much to save you.

5. Appreciate your customers

How many times during lockdown have you thought or even said out loud “that was amazing service!”? I know I have a number of times and the businesses responsible usually got my repeat business. It’s easy to become complacent. Especially if you have a good product or service. Why go out of your way to show appreciation for your customers if they are going to buy from you anyway? Here’s why – Showing kindness and appreciation leads to loyal customers and those are the kinds of customers you want when the world gets turned upside down. Those customers will go out of their way to buy from you when you need their support. Not to mention repeat business is far easier and cheaper to secure than new business.

6. Work on workplace culture

The lockdown shone a very bright light on the issue of workplace culture. Strong cultures and dedicated employees were able to adapt to working from home, remaining productive and effective. Many business owners around the state also had to have those awkward conversations with employees about reducing salaries, forced leave or going on jobkeeper. The reality is, in uncertain times you never know when you might need a favour from an employee. Happy and engaged staff are more likely to oblige and fight for the survival of your business.

Summary

These are just six things you can do to protect your business and help it grow and adapt during the uncertain times ahead. If your business survived 2020 in Melbourne, it’s already proved its resilience. Now is the perfect time to look towards the future and make the changes required to not only survive 2021, but thrive.

By Joseph Russell – Founder and Creative Director at DreamWalk.

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