Building Resilience

2020 has been the curve ball that no one expected to see, and we’re only halfway through the year! From what we’ve seen so far, I would say your guess is as good as mine for what’s in store for the second half of the year. This global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has dealt the Australian economy a cruel hand for most individuals and business owners. Although there is no handbook on how to deal with a global pandemic, it has been interesting and insightful to see the routes and pathways various businesses have taken.

Planning and strategy have always been key elements in business and this crazy and difficult time has been no exception to this rule. Businesses that already had strong planning and strategies in place, as a part of their regular operations, were better prepared for these disruptions than businesses that did not. Having the flexibility to be able to quickly pivot business direction has allowed some Australian businesses to not only survive in these conditions, but to thrive.

Companies that were prepared to use the downtime and leverage government incentives to work on their business during the COVID-19 restrictions, have seen positive impacts. By being on top of their administration and having their accounts up to date, their flexibility proved their resilience in this difficult season.

As a proud bookkeeper and business coach, I saw successes with some of my clients. Businesses leveraged the various incentives and were able to stay afloat by being creative and adaptive to the current situations and restrictions. Thanks to the JobKeeper payment, one of my clients was able to keep on their driver, which allowed them to still offer a personalised on site delivery service while their competitors dropped this offering immediately. They also used the slowdown to expand their social media to new platforms which resulted in new customers who appreciated the benefits of the personalised delivery service. Another client of mine was able to keep their staff of over 10 years, thus avoiding staff turnover. Keeping familiar faces for their customers on the reopening and return to provision of regular services. This also eliminated any need of training for new staff when they were ready to reopen. Other businesses were able to keep on their admin team and were able to use the slow down period to revisit practice management software and implement a new and more efficient system. Lastly, the JobKeeper subsidy allowed some businesses to keep their part-time admin staff. This meant a lot to the families who had a spouse or partner who had lost their income. The extra money was a life saver. Thanks to prompt action and being prepared, the incentives flowed through, giving organisations the ability to maintain their staff and customer relationships. So, what can we learn from this situation? 1. Clear communication between employer and employees is key. Business leaders who are transparent with their employees help provide a calmer and more trustworthy workplace. This also helps ease panic and confusion, which again helps reassure everyone in the business. 2. Having a strategy and executing it avoids rash and emotional decisions. This includes having leadership responsible for keeping abreast of all changes and announcements as they occurred. 3. Be prepared. Having accurate and up to date financials and knowing the numbers enables the business to act on the incentives offered in a timely manner. Just as two people can watch the same sports match and experience different things, the application of the JobKeeper program was open to interpretation. It was imperative that the organisations were kept informed of the changes, especially in the beginning when the changes were being announced almost daily. Steps 2 Success made it a priority to stay informed on all developments as they happened and knowing our customers’ businesses and how they operate. This allowed us to tailor the program in such a way as to remain compliant with regulations and find the most optimal way to apply the program’s benefits. Working closely with our client’s accountant also helped to clarify any incorrect assumptions and to keep business owners accountable, informed and confident of the program’s workings. Although this may be a difficult time for many people, it can also be the wakeup call that your business needed to get your books and financials in order. Going into the second half of 2020, I can see that; resilience, organisation and adaptability will play a large roll in Australian Business.