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Oct 13, 2020 Raymond Huan (0)

The negative impact of the global pandemic is felt by businesses large and small around the world. To keep afloat, many are looking for ways to not just stay in business but also to find more business.  

In this video, I explore three ways that you can start doing today to set you up for increased sales.  

Covid-19 has brought economic challenges across the board, forcing many businesses to find ways to stay afloat. Some businesses have opted to do the #COVIDPivot, which I discussed in a previous video. Essentially, the #COVIDPivot entails developing a new business model, introducing a new product, or finding a new market. Doing any of those three may help you get more sales.  

But what if this doesn’t apply to your business? Or, what if I’ve done that already, but it isn’t working as I had hoped it to work--what else can you do? Or how else can I supplement my other efforts so that I can bring in more sales? 

Here are three things that you can start doing today, or more of today, to help you bring in higher revenue or turnover for your business. 

  • Reach out to your customers, or potential customers.  

If you haven’t reached out to your customers since Covid-19 hit, it is best to do it now. Many businesses do this.  

Talk to them about how you are doing, too. Were you affected by the crisis? How are you affected by the global pandemic? How has that affected your ability to do business? How has that affected your employees—and what are you doing to help your employees? Continue the conversation by telling your customers how you plan on moving forward—and how you would like them to move forward with you. 

And once you continue with this conversation, you’ll find that you’re not only building trust between you and your customers, but you are also building and nurturing a community around your brand, just as I discuss in the video on how to build a community during the age of social distancing (link forthcoming).  

  • Develop your distribution channel. 

Part of the reason for reaching out to your customers is understanding their pain points. One of the challenges that consumers experience during the pandemic is finding ways to purchase goods and services as a result of community quarantines and lockdowns imposed by governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This resulted in many businesses operating in a limited capacity, so getting goods and services to customers became a challenge. 

So when you get to reach out to your customers, ask them for feedback. Would they prefer that you deliver to their doorstep, instead of buying in-store? Would they prefer that they order online instead of purchasing in-store? Do they want these changes only in the short-term, or do they want these options available to them permanently? 

The global pandemic is said to affect normal as we know it—and many things, including consumer lifestyles, will change permanently. And so the immediate need is to understand how your customer’s lifestyles will change and how you can address these changes so that you can keep up with their wants and needs. 

  • Develop complementary or supplementary products or services. 

Many businesses had to turn to digital marketing when governments ordered lockdowns and community quarantines. To supplement their limited offerings and to ensure that they can keep in touch with their customers, many of these businesses offered webinars or online training classes. Some of them were offered for free, like Single O Café, who offered short classes on their social media accounts. Some bundled these classes with their offerings. 

Asian Mint, a Thai restaurant in Texas, USA, had to quickly pivot and create a new product when the state of Texas ordered the closure of dining rooms to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Asian Mint offered cooking kits to allow their customers to cook some of the restaurant’s favourite dishes in the comfort of their own home. Each kit contained raw ingredients and instructions on how to cook each dish. As a complement, they also offered free virtual cooking classes, which they streamed on their social media accounts, to help customers learn how to cook their kits. The restaurant also opened their pantry where their customers can source additional ingredients. 

Some vineyards offer wine tasting classes. Wineries would send in bottles of their wines and a link to an online virtual class. Other wineries would partner with restaurants so that they can offer cold cuts and cheese and offer a class that discussed how to properly pair wines with dishes.  

What I find very interesting during this global pandemic is how businesses are responding to the challenges that it brought about. Many business owners are creating their own disruptions and finding different ways not just to stay afloat but also get ahead of the curve.  

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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While the global pandemic has disrupted economies and industries around the world, many small businesses are fighting back by pivoting and creating disruptions in their own market. What emerges are inspirational and admirable examples of how businesses can respond to challenges that are outside of their control.

In this video, I talk about three small businesses, how they pivoted and adjusted their businesses, and how they took advantage of the changing needs in their respective markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global health crisis has brought about sweeping changes in how we work, where we eat, where we go, and how we go about our daily lives. While many have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, there are some businesses who have been able to turn things around and make the best out of this situation.

This is exactly what three businesses—Single O, Walks, and Education Perfect—did. In what is now known as a #covidpivot, these businesses have been able to create a new business model, a new product, and a new market for their business, respectively.

New business model: Single O

Founded in 2003, this café based in Sydney serves customers with ethically sourced coffee. Before the global pandemic, they operated three cafes, a stall at a local farmer’s market, an overseas branch in Tokyo, and also a thriving wholesale business.

When social distancing restrictions were imposed, they immediately switched to a takeaway model. More notably, within 48 hours, they created a special blend they called “Stimulus,” which was meant to give people a “caffeine hit and a boost in productivity” because they wanted to bring something uplifting to an otherwise difficult situation.

They didn’t stop there. They added a pantry that sells like butter, eggs, and flour because they knew that supply of these essentials would become an issue. They also started making restaurant-quality ready-made meals; vacuum packed for people to enjoy at home.

They also partnered with their wholesale customers in a program they called “Kickback,” where their customers earned 30% in coffee credit if they ordered directly from them, thereby creating an incentive for customers to come back and order from them again and again. They also launched “Parachutes,” ready-to-go, single use bag of coffee grounds. They’ve also partnered with new businesses and hosted brewing masterclasses on Instagram.

They are still innovating. They are redesigning the café customer experience for the post-covid new normal. This includes, among others in their pipeline, the world’s first self-service batch brew tap system.

New product: Walk’s Tours from Home

Founded in 2009, Walks is a tour company that offers walking tours of cities in Europe and the USA.

The travel and tourism industry is one of the worst-hit industries in the world. To support Walk’s guides, to keep their customer base engaged, and to nurture brand awareness, the company launched Tours from Home, a virtual city walking tour where guides, chefs, and storytellers engage their customers in the comfort of their homes.

According to their website, these special “Tours from Home” feature limited time only content covering topical, provocative, and fascinating subjects not generally covered on existing Walks tours. While these tours provide an entirely different experience, these provide measures to help keep the company afloat, support their partners, and continue to engage their customers.

New market: Education Perfect

Based in New Zealand and with offices in Australia, United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore, Education Perfect is an education platform that claims to “enable transformative learning and learning experiences for lifelong learners.” They offer education platforms for home, school, and work.

As schools physically shut down across the world and learning moved to the home, Education Perfect grabbed the opportunity to push its platform to new markets. They offered free licenses for institutions in Asia at the beginning of the outbreak, which they allowed  schools to use until May. They expanded their offering worldwide as more countries were forced to lockdown and keep people home.

In the process, they were able to sign up more than half a million users in over 100 countries.

Single O Café, Walk’s Tours from Home, and Education Perfect are just some of the many businesses around the world that have adapted in response to measures introduced during the pandemic. This is by no means an exhaustive list of business models that have emerged. Do you know of other businesses who have successfully pivoted? I would love to hear these stories, send me an email, and let’s chat.

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Many around the world and in our country are experiencing the effects of this public health crisis. Economic experts are sounding a grim warning of how this pandemic can affect all businesses.

What can we do, as a small business, to counter the impact of this crisis on the economy? In this video, I explore how we can proactively respond to the impending effects of this crisis. My goal is to encourage everyone to start having this conversation today and begin finding answers to the question: How can a small business owner respond to the effects of this crisis and support each other in these uncertain times?

As of this video’s recording, there are hundreds of thousands of reported cases of COVID-19. Many health experts are comparing this crisis to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003. At that time, Australia was not severely affected as we only had 6 reported cases and no fatalities. Many of us have not experienced a crisis of this scale in our lifetime, and we, as Australian businesses, are treading unchartered waters.

We’re feeling the impact of the coronavirus in the world economy, as many nations are closing or have closed their borders to mitigate contagion risks. Businesses have shut down by order of the government and hundreds of thousands of people are now unemployed seemingly overnight. Even if many of these businesses have shut down, quite a few of them have chosen to retain their presence online.

If your business is still trading, you still have the opportunity to adapt to the current environment. That, in turn, puts you in a position to prepare for recovery once this crisis is over. Just as it did in 2003 during the SARS crisis, this crisis will also pass. Your business just needs to be in a position to take advantage of that.

If this is the time to be proactive, what can we start doing today?

Communicate with your clients

Everyone is likely to be feeling the effects of this health crisis—some more than others. This is the best time to get in touch with your clients to see how they are faring today. Acknowledge that times are tough and empathise with their current situation.

Let them know what you are doing today to help mitigate or minimise the risks. For example, if you run a restaurant or any food-related business, show your customers how you are protecting your own staff and what new measures you’re putting in place to stop the spread of the virus. Show them how you are adapting to do home delivery and how you can assist those in isolation by preparing meals for them over the next two weeks. Give them options on how, by purchasing from you, can introduce a variety in their lives by providing food options.

Communicate to your clients if you need to limit your operations or if stock becomes low in supply. How can they get in touch with you? Did you change your operating hours? What services and products are you still offering? Reassure your customers by consistently and  constantly communicating, especially when there are changes that will affect them significantly.

Use technology, explore alternatives

They call this the age of social distancing. Social distancing means deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. A recommended space of a meter or more between individuals is recommended to stop the spread of the virus. This is the reason why, in many parts of the world, large events like concerts, conferences, and shows are being cancelled to discourage the mass gathering of people.

The current recommendation is to stay home and avoid crowds—to practice self-quarantine at home and socially distance yourself from others. This means not participating in face-to-face meetings or events.

If you need to meet with someone or work with a group of people, what can you do? It’s time to use technology and explore the alternatives. There’s always email. There’s also video conferencing applications for messaging and voice calls. If you have to call off a face-to-face meeting, you can set up a video conference call through Skype, Google Hangout, or Zoom. If in case you need to work from home, you can still track team tasks and projects virtually through productivity tools such as Monday, Asana, and Trello.

There are many apps available in the market today—some have free features, while other features are available at a fee. If you’ve always wanted to learn something new and explore these apps—now is the time to do so.

Here are some examples of what people are doing across the globe in response to the call for social distancing:

  • In some places like the United States, governments are partially shutting down restaurants to discourage people gathering in large groups in a single dining space. Restaurants are keeping their kitchens open by encouraging people to order for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery.
  • Many international conferences have also been cancelled. Organisers are instead holding virtual conferences, where people can still participate by logging in online.
  • Many companies are encouraging staff to work from home and are using many communication and productivity apps that I have mentioned to catch up and keep track of progress.
  • The entertainment industry is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many concerts and music festivals have been called off. As an alternative, many artists have gone to social media, such as Instagram and Facebook to hold live virtual concerts.
  • Other professionals—chefs, marketing professionals—are offering free virtual workshops.

Necessity is the mother of invention. There is a need today to rethink traditional business models to fit the conditions of this crisis. Those who can adapt are in a better position to overcome the challenges. This is the time to get those creative juices going and to revisit your business plans. Who knows? Your creativity might lead you to a business model that will bring you and propel your business to growth after this crisis is over.

Explore what loans and benefits are being made available to you

The government has just announced a stimulus package for the Australian economy, which provides support for small businesses, amongst many others who will be or are already being affected by the pandemic. Contact your accountant and explore what is being made available to your company and how that would impact you directly.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

As business owners, we understand risks and that we should always be prepared for what is inevitable. Now is the time to think about what you should do for your business to survive. If what other people are doing is any indication of what we can do, there is a LOT that we can do today to prepare our business for the future.

I will share with you a series of questions that will likely take some time for you to think about. The answers that you come up with may be the answer that allows your business to survive and put you in a position for growth once this crisis is over.

  • What can I do now so that I can reach my customers and touch base with them?
  • What alternatives do I have so that I can continue to offer the products and services to my customers?
  • What do my customers need now?
  • Has the crisis developed new pain points for my customers?
  • What changes can I do today to support my customers’ needs and address their new pain points?

The last question is particularly important because this is how you strengthen your relationship with your customers in this time of need. For example, some grocery and supermarket chains in Australia have come up with special shopping hours to a niche market—in this case, a Senior-Only shopping hour to help older shoppers.

These are uncharted waters. We will possibly feel the economic effects of the coronavirus in the months to come. But I urge everyone to keep calm, stay safe, and focus on the things that you can change or control.

When this crisis is over, I anticipate that more business will be more open to using video conferencing and that it will be widely accepted as the main way of doing business than ever before. How will that affect your business? Let’s focus on what changes we can make and find ways to support one another.

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[youtube][/youtube] In this video, I discuss the myth that when businesses grow faster than usual, employees tend to get overworked, which leads them to either leave the company or to experience productivity declines. Today, I will bust that myth and discuss plausible explanations of why this happens and how your business can prevent these from happening. Misconceptions about causes increased employee turnover and drop in productivity The impression that most business owners have about growing rapidly is that it usually results in high employee turnover. Employees leave because the sudden spike in the workload overburdens them. Too much work can lead to productivity—that is, employees will likely work longer hours, get tired, and become less efficient in the long run. This seems a logical argument about the downside of growing a little to quickly. However, studies have shown that this is not necessarily true—that is, that high turnover and low productivity experience is caused by too rapid growth. In fact, a specific study on the reality of work done in mid-market companies in the United States that looked into employee turnover from over 800 companies and 125,000 employees uncovered some surprising insights:

 “The faster the growth, the lower the turnover—for every additional 10 percent in headcount growth, turnover was, on average, 1.6 percent lower.”

The results of the study run counter to the common but false impression that rapid growth results in high turnover. So if it isn’t growth, what causes high turnover and low productivity? What causes high turnover and low productivity? Just imagine this scenario. Your business is experiencing rapid growth, and you find that your premises might be too small for your operations. There might not be enough space or even equipment for everyone to work efficiently. While moving to a large space or buying new equipment might be the answer, you might not have enough cash in the short term to support expansion costs. You probably think that the natural course of action would be to try and generate more income to get enough cash—but then this puts additional pressure on your employees, your equipment, and even your current space. Expanding might not be feasible for you in the short run. There may be a shortage of cash to meet expansion costs. You may resolve to take on more work—more clients, more projects—to generate more income, which places additional pressure on your premises and staff. Overworked employees can cause productivity to drop. The quality of your products or your services can decline, too. When this happens, you may lose your customers to your competitors. What then? Staff morale drops, which may cause them to leave. The problem in this scenario is that the business is operating re-actively rather than proactively, which negatively impacts resources. So what is truly causing low productivity and high employee turnover? In this particular case, it is not growth but the lack of strategic planning to respond to the changes brought about by growth! If you want to know more about what causes high employee turnover, watch my 3-part series explaining why employees leave. What can you do?
  1. Have a plan. A well-thought out plan serves as a map on how to achieve growth. An effective plan will have an action plan for possible scenarios, so you are steps ahead before problems arise. Because of this, it is important to revisit the plan as often as you can—especially if you are aiming to grow exponentially!
  2. Talk to your team. They are part of the solution! Brainstorm with them, ask them where they are having problems and where they think they can improve things. Morale usually drops when people feel that they do not have support—and when things get tough, communication becomes very important.
  3. Find help! Especially if you’re having challenges yourself or if you know that this can be done better than doing it all by yourself. You are not the first business owner who has experienced growth challenges, and there are many out there who are willing to help. Find a mentor or even a business coach who has the wisdom and experience to help you find solutions.
If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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[youtube][/youtube] Bunnings is a popular Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hardware store brand that is beloved for its tools and do-it-yourself solutions. However, a recent business decision made by this company resulted in a loss of over $1 billion. In this video, I discuss what this mistake is all about, what we can learn from it, and how this mistake can be avoided in your business. What made Bunnings popular in Australia? Founded in Australia in 1887, Bunnings Warehouse is a household hardware store that operates over 300 branches all over Australia and employs more than 30,000 employees. The company earned A$11.6 billion in revenue in 2016. Bunnings is considered a success here in Australia. Why? Here are three important reasons for Bunnings’s success:

  1. Bunnings made household hardware become accessible to everyone. And with that, they have done a great job of building and nurturing a market for people interested in DIY.
  2. Bunnings has a good marketing campaign that caters to the DIY market. No question fielded by any of its customers is too dumb for its well-trained staff to answer—customers come out of the store confident that they have the right information to tackle their DIY project.
  3. And more importantly, Bunnings has made sure to provide products that cater to what the market wants.
So, as with many successful businesses, Bunnings had this impression that since they were successful in one market, they could easily replicate this success in another market. With this thought process, Bunnings bought a range of stores in the UK to give them an immediate presence in the new market and replicated the Australian model in the UK, expecting the business model to work and the profits to start rolling in. What happened, however, was a series of bad decisions that led to a $1.3 billion write-down for the company. So why isn’t Bunnings’ working in the UK?
  1. Unlike Australian customers, their UK counterparts want things done for them, rather than do things themselves. Australians are into DIY, whereas in the UK, the preference is for Do-It-For-Me services. You can easily imagine that a DIY business model will not work well in a DIFM market.
  2. UK customers want to see aisles and displays that provided inspiration for home projects—and buy finished projects, rather than tools and parts that one needs to work on them. The Bunnings model provided the tools, but not the finished product.
  3. UK customers have no interest in outdoor furniture or BBQ grills—products that very popular in Australia but are not so in the UK. One factor for this taste difference is the difference in the weather in the two markets.
  4. The Bunnings brand is literally unknown in the UK. Coming into the market by merely taking over a business that was not doing well in the UK did not do Bunnings any favours either.
So, while Bunnings Australia’s business model fits the Australia market, it cannot be said the same for its UK market. It would seem that there is a mismatch between what customers in the UK wanted with what Bunnings UK had to offer: their product line, store layout, and displays didn’t entice customers to purchase. What lessons can be learned? From a business point of view, business arrogance is defined as follows:

“The side effect that one gets when the business under your charge is doing extremely well, even when your competitors may be struggling.”

Business arrogance makes one mistakenly assume that a successful business model will work elsewhere. The obvious lesson here is that one should not assume that one’s success in one market can be successfully replicated in another market by simply doing the same exact thing. Bunnings’s mistake was to use a copy and paste business strategy—they copied what was working in Australia and pasted the model into the UK market, without taking into account the different taste and preferences of the two markets. Do you suffer from business arrogance? If you do, you might not even realise it. I, sometimes, cannot even tell if I am suffering from business arrogance. But what I do have a group of people who I am accountable to—people who can call me out and who can tell me if I am being arrogant. You should have a similar group of people, too, as this will save you a lot of money. So what can we learn from Bunnings UK? Understand the market. Take some time in understanding the market you will enter, and particularly the potential customers that you want to serve. Understanding what they want (and don’t want) may save you from the headache of stocking up on unwanted inventory. Rationalise strategically. When cutting down on costs, do not take out the one thing that makes the most difference. When Bunnings entered the UK market, they promised to provide the “widest range, lowest prices, and the best service” available. But when Bunnings started realizing that the business was not doing well, they opted to cut down on their staff. They took out one of the important factors that would allow them to successfully provide what they promised— the best service. If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.    

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