5 inspirational pivots from Aussie small businesses in the face of COVID-19

The Covid-19 crisis has changed everything for businesses across the world. It has forced every type of industry to quickly re-evaluate their entire model, or risk going under.

The world of small business is no stranger to adversity. Operating on small margins, being at the mercy of suppliers and having to use all of your entrepreneurial talent to make it to the next quarter, this is what our livelihoods depend on.

Across Australia, there are stories of small businesses pivoting their strategy. Changing for profit, and to support their loyal staff and customers who depend on them. Many industries cannot afford to simply close their doors, but want to support social distancing measures at the same time.

At Vonto, we want to celebrate these businesses for their resourcefulness, and creativity in crisis-mode. We share some of the lessons that they have learnt. This is a stressful time for the owners, and employees, of smaller companies. Sharing these best practices will help everyone come out of this difficult time stronger.

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Archie Rose Distilling Co.

Archie Rose Distilling Co. have kept their unique brand positioning to making hand sanitizer.

Breweries are uniquely placed to solve a key problem of the pandemic. Withlarge amounts of ethanol on hand they are able to produce the much neededhand sanitizer that stops the spread of infection.

Archie Rose is a Sydney based distillery that has pivoted nearly all of its operations into making hand sanitizer to meet the national need. They have kept their distinct style with beautiful packaging and a recipe that uses some of the ingredients from their gin.

Their founder, Will Edwards, shared:

We’re in a unique position to manufacture this essential product … and so we’re now making hand sanitiser our production focus. We will continue to produce sanitiser for as long as we can, or as long as is required, and this will also support the redeployment of as many of our full time bar staff as possible to assist in filling, packaging and shipping the product.

– Will Edwards

Kindred Property Group

Kindred Property Group offers a completely digital real estate experience.

So you are looking to move. Tedious viewings and awkward open-houses? Not in the age of Corona. Why not pull out your smartphone for a virtual tour?

Not the norm, right?

Well it has been for some time for the Kindred Property Group. They have been at the forefront of virtual house tours for some time now and already have 90% of their listings digitally mapped and ready to be virtually viewed.

This expansion was already well in-place before restrictions came into effect. It means their business can continue to support their customers who may have already committed to a move, and may not be able to indefinitely delay the process.

“Through our digital experiences, people can not only view properties (for as many hours and as many times as they want without leaving their own home), but they can also complete a property sale digitally – from digital proposals, digital contracts, video conferencing and more,” more,” said Josh Kindred, the CEO of the Kindred group.

Certainly an inspirational use of technology, that will only become more common in the future.

F45

F45 has gyms across the world, currently closed due to the quarantine.

Australian born, F45 has been leading the charge in innovating the fitness industry for some time. Their regime of circuit based workouts focus on functional (that’s what the F stands for) exercises that help build fitness in broad areas that are useful in everyday life. Think lifting and running, rather than working obscure isolated muscle groups.

As the quarantine descended they knew they needed to work out a ​new method of retaining their loyal customers​, and keeping up the reps. That’s how the business has decided to move to virtual at-home workouts. Taking the same inspirational intensity of their brand and packaging it as on-demand video content will keep their customers loyal.

The Yoga Barn – Bali

The Yoga Barn is a sanctuary in Ubud, Bali, that has updated its courses to being online.

Back in 2007, The Yoga Barn opened as a simple one room studio in Ubud, Bali. Since then the Bali business has grown with the nature around them, into an amazing location dedicated to spiritual meetings, teaching events, detox retreats and of course, plenty of yoga.

As Asia has been so heavily hit by the pandemic, The Yoga Barn saw it as their duty to close their doors to protect their staff, guests and the local community. They too have taken to the internet and have been streaming and uploading their various classes to YouTube.

To make their content as accessible as possible it is completely free and un-gated. They do ask for donations in order to support the center and staff during these difficult times, but that this is not a requirement. This comes from their ethics as an institution. As they say on their site:

Our teachers are passionate about supporting our global community in this unique time for buoyant health and spirituality

Unlike other businesses that centre their model around a specific service or product, The Yoga Barn is a leader in their field and so has used this platform to support the various practitioners in their community, and beyond, to provide some peace in difficult times.

Yoga Barn has taken this opportunity to leverage the close relationship people, especially Australians, have with Bali. They have found and used this new way to be connected to the community. The Bali experience kicks off before tourists have even left Australia for their retreats, weddings and holidays – ensuring a paid-visit when borders reopen. The online escapism they have created can be replicated by other Australian entrepreneurs who have chosen or might choose Bali as a home for their business.

Skedulo

Skedulo has released its scheduling software free of cost to help medical centres cope with demand.

Skedulo is offering their service for free to organisations that are on the frontline. Their software helps to manage demand, use all of the capacity available and organise potentially infectious patients in the most efficient way possible. This has been a difficult task for hospitals and testing centres that might not have been prepared for the scale of this infection.

They have been able to provide a crucial service, for free, when it matters most, and prove that their software is able to function and scale for businesses in the most difficult times. This is the kind of community out-reach that will position them as leaders in their field well after the crisis isover.

The take-away

These uncertain days can be stressful and small businesses can especially feel the pinch. Focus on your business’s strengths, try to retain loyal staff and customers and make cutbacks where possible to ride out the storm.

If possible, update your company’s strategy to make the coming months easier, and could place you in a strong position after the restrictions are lifted. Work with your local communities and others in your niche. The bonds that you build now will help you in the future.