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Growing your business in a post-pandemic era

Few events have as big an impact on the global economy than a pandemic. Almost every industry has been affected by COVID-19, whether negatively or positively; and for some, it simply prompted a closer look at how they – or their business – operated.

When the initial wave struck, supply chains were shaken, and there were immediate questions regarding how the health crisis would impact consumer behaviour and trade. Small businesses – even those deemed essential, like independent contractors working as tradies, to businesses in the agricultural sector – didn’t escape unscathed.

But, with Covid-19 case numbers falling in Australia (and a number of other countries), restrictions easing and domestic borders likely to be open by the end of the year, small business are heading into the end of 2020 with a renewed sense of confidence.

The current state of play for small businesses

A recent entrepreneurship survey noted that 11% of Australian SMEs have experienced an increase in revenue during the pandemic, in comparison to just 8% worldwide. Many respondents who experienced growth cited the Federal Government’s various pandemic-response financial stimulus packages as a reason.

The small businesses that didn’t grow were optimistic about their recovery: 82% reported they believed they would recover within a year, compared to 70% of those overseas. Plus, almost 50% expected their business to grow by half in the next three to five years, in comparison to just over a quarter (26%) of small businesses globally.

Is there a rebound coming? Forecasts are positive.

In Australia, the full economic effects of COVID-19 related restrictions are only starting to become apparent. The pandemic had a greater impact on economic activity globally than originally anticipated, and the return to the trend of growth is expected to be slower than once thought.

That news isn’t without some silver linings. Agricultural trade, for one, appears to have been disrupted much less than trade in other goods – food is, after all, an essential good. Analysts are predicting growth, too: “it will likely be a relatively steep rebound followed by positive growth in the long term,” according to the Boston Consulting GroupA predicted increase in government support for the agricultural sector (to shorten supply chains), together with a rise in the adoption of new agricultural technologies, will see the potential for opportunities to increase revenues in every segment of the agriculture value chain.

Tradies are also experiencing a rise in consumer demand, and are predicted to enjoy more in the months to come. During lockdown, many consumers were working from home – and their attentions shifted to what could be done to improve the space they were suddenly spending so much more time in. This can be seen quite clearly in recent Google Search data conducted by digital marketing agency Marketix: compared to last year, there was a 17% growth in searches for ‘roofing contractors’, a 27% growth for ‘handyman’, and a staggering 52% growth in ‘fencing’. With the working-from-home model expected to stick around for some employees (or more broadly, some businesses), this growth is predicted to continue, albeit possibly at a slower rate.

Strategies you can use to grow your small business post-pandemic

Don’t forget that we aren’t out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19. Much of the world has found themselves in a different situation to Australia, so it’s important to keep an eye on global news and trend forecasts that could impact your business in the future. It appears that growth is likely to come – but it can be maximised if you implement the right strategies.

That being said, if you are struggling, there are some practical steps you can take now to get your business back on track. Before you even think about growth, make sure your tax obligations are up to date and that you’re claiming all deductions available to you. In some circumstances, you may also be able to apply for a deferral of lodgment or payment, so it’s worth looking into.

If your business is quieter than you’d like, use this time to research your competitors, evaluate your marketing strategies and ensure you’re keeping your business expenses under control. All of these can lead to growth down the track – especially if they’re supported by a product that is still relevant (if it isn’t, try to make adjustments to generate demand), and appropriate preparations for recovery (like purchasing new materials and building a strong business culture).

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