As restrictions ease, silver linings are appearing for many small business operators.
As restrictions ease, silver linings are appearing for many small business operators.

There’s still time for small business to thrive

Small business owners tend to be prepared for hardship - think staffing and cashflow issues - and generally have contingency plans in place.

But business today has never faced a COVID-19 pandemic, so quick thinking and fast action has been paramount in ensuring the survival of many ventures.

Phil Goodwin with architect Ferique Beach-Brown at BodyMindLife yoga and pilates in Byron Bay before coronavirus restrictions halted the project. Picture: News Regional Media
Phil Goodwin with architect Ferique Beach-Brown at BodyMindLife yoga and pilates in Byron Bay before coronavirus restrictions halted the project. Picture: News Regional Media

For BodyMindLife Yoga and pilates founder and CEO Phil Goodwin, it was pivot or crash to save his business when restrictions forced gym and fitness centre closures in March.

"I had a website developer working on my website so started talking to them about getting classes online," Mr Goodwin said.

"From the 10th to the 23rd of March we pivoted and worked out how to transform our yoga and pilates business offering group classes to an online business."

Investment in expensive equipment was required, a risky move considering revenue from their six studios decreased.

Staffing and rent also became an issue and Mr Goodwin had to enter negotiations with landlords while going through the difficult process of significantly reducing staff numbers.

Instructor Noelle Connolly quickly adapted to taking virtual yoga classes from the BodyMindLife studio in Bondi. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Instructor Noelle Connolly quickly adapted to taking virtual yoga classes from the BodyMindLife studio in Bondi. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

But silver linings have appeared as gyms and fitness classes begin to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

"One of the great surprises from all this is we have now got people in 38 different countries watching the live stream and on-demand classes," Mr Goodwin said.

"It got out through social media and was broadcast to our database that alerted people we hadn't seen for years."

"We lost 90 per cent of our revenue off the bat and have gone from running 500 classes a week [in studios] down to 70 online," Mr Goodwin said.

Westpac small business spokesperson Chris Brell said while about 14 per cent of businesses needed to close their doors due to COVID-19, 61 per cent say it's temporary and are confident in re-opening.

"Businesses should be asking themselves about their supply chains, how diversified their business is and analyse where their income is coming from. Above all, stay close to your customers," Mr Brell said.

Originally published as There's still time for small business to thrive


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