With challenge comes opportunity


It is time for a well-deserved break! …

And then it’s time to prepare for a new year and a ‘new normal’.

 

By Michael Mekhitarian

Time to relax


As we get ready to say farewell to another pretty tough year, most of us are ready to take a break and just relax for awhile. This is very very healthy.

If you can get some time off from your business, then use it to just chill, and let ideas percolate, to recharge your creative juices and get ready for the year ahead.

Without a crystal ball, we can’t promise you the end of lockdowns or border closures – but what we’re hearing from Governments at both a state and federal level is that after the past two years of being ‘stalled’ there is a strong appetite and impetus for starting to move forward again, despite Covid-19, the Delta strain and the latest variant Omicron.

To that end, we’re confident that businesses can begin to relax a little – the severity of the disruption is over. Most people are fully vaccinated and it’s fair to say that everyone is ready to get on with living again.

This doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels – much is being said about (and expected from) the SME sector to lead Australia out of the post pandemic ‘slow down’.

The world has changed, and we have to acknowledge that too – we need to embrace the ‘new normal’.

Small business innovation in Asia

Innovation is key


There is considerable opportunity for those who can see it. The Government is investing heavily in regional infrastructure across New South Wales – there has been a significant trend in people moving out of cities to coastal and regional areas too. For those who are remaining in the metropolitan areas, there’s a renewed love affair with the suburbs, not just for people, but for businesses too.

All around there is pent-up demand for all the things that have been forbidden or truncated during the past two years, including domestic travel (and overseas travel when the time is right), along with live music, the cinema, the theatre, sports, restaurants and cafes… etc!

Over the course of lockdowns talented people have invented all sorts of cool things too, and they’re ready to take these products and services to market. The entrepreneurial spirit is pretty strong right now. This is exciting if you stop thinking about your competitors as a ‘threat’ and start thinking about them as potential collaborators.

Good Housekeeping


As January comes around, it is a great time to check in with financial budgets and forecasts and make adjustments where necessary.

Remember to ensure you’ve got detailed accounts around any pandemic financial assistance you’ve had, in case you’re audited.

Neat and tidy records will make any auditing process much more straightforward.

Challenges facing the broader business environment


It’s also crucial to think about the broader challenges facing business – staff shortages at this time are problematic across a number of industries and this can result in instability. It appears to be a global trend, and one that is not going away in a hurry.

We’re also expecting to see wages rise over the coming months, so you will need to prepare for that financially. But again, this is an opportunity.

Staff shortages, the ‘great resignation’ and flexible working options combined will have the effect of opening up the talent pool …. You can make this work in your favour if you create clever salary packaging. Just be aware of any Fringe Benefit Tax implications. We can help you better understand these.

Also consider whether there are efficiencies you can put in place which will reduce your need for people.This can be a time to reconfigure the traditional way you’ve done things by automating or outsourcing or by collaborating. Health and wellbeing of employees should also be a top consideration.

Customer expectations are changing


Many employees have talked about measuring engagement, productivity and outputs instead of ‘time spent working’ for many years.

Now is the time to consider how your business is going to put this into practice, particularly if your employees are working remotely, or hybrid, and as an employer or manager you have less ‘visibility’ around how they’re contributing.

It’s also important to think about what your customers want, too. A recent McKinsey report on customer sentiment post-pandemic found six key insights. The New Year might be a good time to do a customer survey so you know exactly what your business is dealing with.

Your entire business model may have to be tweaked, particularly if you have health and safety considerations. This has been something that cafes, restaurants, bars and gyms for example, have had to look very closely at, to ensure they can still service customers and grow their businesses without ‘overcrowding’ their premises.

Last but not least, consider appointing an advisory board. An advisory board is not the same as a board which has fiduciary and legal responsibilities – an advisory board is much less formal and simply acts as a ‘sounding board’ for business owners. These types of boards can help to drive both strategy and innovation.

A business mentor works well too, and can offer a fresh, unbiased perspective on issues you’re facing and problems you’re looking to solve.

Remember times of great change also bring great opportunity.

It’s time to bring your ‘A’ game to the field. And if we can help, we are only a phone call away.