It goes without saying that running a small business can be challenging – even at the best of times. And as the impact of unforeseen events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian bushfires and recent floods have demonstrated, it pays to be prepared.
Even during tough times, there are things you can do to help your business adapt and survive. As many successful SME business owners and entrepreneurs will attest, great ideas and innovation often come out of necessity.
Whether your business is struggling right now, or you just want to make some adjustments to improve your business outlook and achieve your business goals for the future, here are a few helpful strategies you can employ to get your finances in the best shape possible.
Stuck for new business ideas?
If you’ve tried every trick in the book to generate leads, increase sales or reach a wider customer base but have simply run out of ideas, it may be time to reach out for help.
Often a fresh pair of eyes can help uncover new opportunities and lend a new perspective to something you have been grappling with for some time – whether that’s how to structure your business, start up a new business partnership or where to go for small business support.
It’s also worth asking your employees for ideas and invite them to give honest feedback to help identify areas for improvement and new business growth opportunities that you may not have considered.
Spend a little (if you can)
If your small business is experiencing hardship, further outlay or investment is probably the last thing you want to think about but it may just be the thing to help your business unlock new opportunities or reduce your business risk. It’s important to talk to your accountant or financial adviser about these decisions.
If you decide to make an investment in your business but your finances are really tight, you may need to apply for a small business loan or take advantage of small business assistance and Australian Government support, see below for further information.
Government help for small business
Australian Government support for small business can include access to small business loans and stimulus packages for small business – such as the JobKeeper Payment, SME Government Guarantee Scheme. Other forms of small business government assistance include small business tax relief, business grants and cash payments to support local business operators. Talk to your accountant or financial adviser to understand what government support and assistance is available to help your small business’ finances during tough times.
Don’t forget about marketing
When you are running a small businesses you need to remain on your customers’ radar. Make sure your customers know that you’re open for business and change your messaging to reflect the new business environment. Don’t forget to let your customers know if you have made changes to your opening hours and promote your online business offering to help improve your business outlook.
Social media is a great marketing tool for SME businesses to engage with existing and potential customers, so make sure your Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages are up-to-date. With people spending more time online, posting relevant news and content - such as photos and stories - can help you stay front of mind with existing customers and find new ones. If you don’t use social media for your business, now could be a good time to get started. Look out for online business courses and podcasts to help you understand how to market your business online. And don’t forget about using other marketing channels such as emails to your database, posters and flyers, letterbox drops and ads in your local newspaper.
Cutting costs is vital if you want your small business to stay profitable during quieter times. So now is the perfect time to review your expenses and streamline your small business finances by asking yourself questions such as:
- Is there a more cost-effective way of delivering your products or services?
- Can you find a cheaper supplier for your best-selling products, or negotiate a better deal with your existing one?
- Is your landlord willing to negotiate on your rent or can you transition to a primarily online business instead?
- Is it time to compare business insurance quotes and get a better deal?
- Are there any costs that can be cut completely so you can move forward without the burden of unnecessary expenses?
Pivot your business plan
The most effective way to survive tough times may be to transform your small business, switch to a different business model or look at changing your business plan or business structure. Questions to consider here include:
- Can you set up an online business or take parts of it online with an e-commerce store, virtual classes or home delivery options?
- Can you leverage your existing assets and resources to create a new offering, or switch to making products that are essential right now?
- Could you collaborate or form a business partnership to allow for wider distribution and cross-sell opportunities and to help build awareness of your product or service to their customer base, and vice-versa?
- Is there an opportunity to bundle your products together?
Contact us to find out more about how BOQ Business can support your small business
For more information about Federal, State and Territory Government financial support measures available to Australian businesses, download our comprehensive summary here. You can also stay up-to-date with new announcements via the Australian Government's support for business page found here, or for State and Territory-specific information, click here.