Why local businesses may become their neighbours’ saviour

by | May 8, 2020

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has created chaos for Australia’s small-business landscape and owners. Our retail, hospitality and entertainment industries have been particularly hard hit, and many small businesses will unfortunately struggle to survive.

But for others, there are opportunities opening up. With travel severely restricted and borders closed, interstate businesses who may have been competitors to local businesses may need to withdraw their services, as they simply can’t get to the client’s premises.

Put simply, this means that a client lost for one business may well mean a client gained for a business which is located more locally to the client!

This translates to an unexpected opportunity, especially for regional businesses. While this opportunity, of course, won’t be available to all industries, it has the potential to be extremely valuable to those who can fill this gap.

If you are providing an essential service and are, therefore, still operating, think about services that your interstate competitors, or even those from outside your area, are providing. Could you help other local businesses in your area by stepping in and providing those services yourself? If you have been unable to get on the radar of a potential client because “they already had a supplier in place”, now may be a good time to reach out to them!

A great example of this is domestic air travel. Whilst it’s being severely restricted by many large companies, smaller charter flights are stepping in to fill this void for some resources companies who also see it as a way to protect their employees from high-risk areas such as taxis, airports and public aircraft.

Take this advice with a grain of salt, however; while this crisis may present an opportunity for some, it is vital that this not be taken as an excuse to profiteer. This is a crisis situation, and approaches of this nature must come from a place of empathy and kindness, not taking advantage of somebody else’s misfortune. Our reactions to this pandemic and how we treat our customers and suppliers will be noticed and will stay with them for a very long time!

If you are a regional small business, you are probably are more likely to be able to identify opportunities due to the travel distances involved. These opportunities may include:

  • Contacting your local Council to ask if they have had to cancel work because an existing contractor can’t travel.
  • Identifying large businesses in your area who may be able to use your services.
  • Checking Government Tender sites to see if there are any projects happening in your local area.

If you’re unsure of how to get started, contacting the procurement department of the local council would be a good place to start – maybe some of their essential services are being provided by a company from interstate or from a COVID-19 hot-spot area.

During times like these, it’s as much about mindset as it is about ingenuity, so I would encourage all of us as small businesses to think outside the doom and gloom, and explore new relationships and new client opportunities wherever possible!

Bronwyn Reid, Owner, Small Company Big Business

This post first appeared on https://insidesmallbusiness.com.au on May 05, 2020.