How small businesses are innovating in the face of COVID-19
Whether you’re watching the coronavirus headlines, or simply dwindling foot traffic or sales enquiries for your business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the current crisis.
But many Australian businesses are pivoting their way out of business disruption and exploring new opportunities.
Here are some ways Aussie small businesses are keeping the wheels turning on their business:
Gym class goes virtual
Cycology Club in Surry Hills in Sydney is one of many gyms offering virtual classes amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Founder David Finnimore says more than 300 people joined in for Cycology Club’s first Instagram Live workout and over the subsequent 24 hours a further 400 viewed the workout via the gym’s Instagram Stories.
“We had all sorts of people look at it – from professional sports players right through to four and five-year-old kids in front of the TV doing the workout,” he says.
Finnimore says the live workouts have not only enabled the business to continue providing a service to clients during the current coronavirus situation, but it’s also a marketing opportunity.
“We attached a competition to the Instagram Live videos so if someone films themselves doing the workout, tags the club and shares it on Instagram, they can win 10 classes. They’re also promoting the club in a time when we’re not even open,” he says.
Going forward, Finnimore says they will also start delivering bikes to their clients’ homes so they can run virtual classes using their own official equipment.
Restaurant supplier turns home food delivery service
Cheeky Pea (pictured above) is a two-year-old business that provides handmade falafel products directly to some of Sydney’s fine dining restaurants, cafes, delis and corporate catering businesses.
But once COVID-19 began affecting business in Australia, Founder Adi Walter started to notice a major decrease in orders from her regular clients.
So, Walter thought, if people can’t leave their homes and eat out, why not deliver ready-to-fry falafel balls directly to them instead?
“We’ve decided to shift from a B2B business to a B2C business over the upcoming period in order for our business to survive,” she says.
Walter has put the word out across different Facebook groups and contacted everyone she knows to help spread the message that not only are they open for business – they’ll come to you.
“It’s a product you can freeze and stock up on as it lasts for three months, it’s very nutritious and made from high-quality ingredients, and it’s vegan,” she says.
Social distancing menu, pop-up supermarket
The hospitality industry has been hit hard, with many restaurants and cafes turning to offering more expansive take-away or delivery menus.
For instance, in Sydney, bar No. 92 has developed a ‘social distancing menu’ that includes cocktail kits and charcuterie plates for local pick-up or delivery.
“We don’t think libatious adventures should cease during these difficult times,” the Glebe bar’s website states.
“Let’s keep our spirits up (excuse the pun) and treat ourselves whenever we can.”
In Brunswick, Melbourne, Italian restaurant 400 Gradi has quickly opened a nearby pop-up supermarket selling its fresh pasta, fresh pasta sauce and bulk groceries, which you can either pick-up or have delivered.
“All the products that we use in our restaurant on a daily basis… we’ve packaged them and we want you to enjoy them at home,” a video on 400 Gradi’s Facebook page says.
Seafood restaurant Moxhe in Bronte, Sydney, has followed a similar path, launching a new take-home menu and opening the ‘Moxhe market’, selling fresh produce, pastries and sandwiches.
Other innovative COVID-19 business ideas
Accommodation: Short-term accommodation management company Beyond a Room has had many cancellations recently. To make up for the fully-refunded cancellations, they’ve offered guests who have recently entered the country the chance to extend their stay so they can properly self-isolate for the full 14 days.
The company is offering homes with unlimited wi-fi, Netflix, food deliveries and in some cases gaming consoles.
Fashion: In the Sydney suburb of Balmain, women’s fashion boutique, Strelitzia Boutique, is one of many bricks-and-mortar retailers reducing trading hours, but in a bid to offset the downturn Strelitzia has announced it is offering phone sales and free local delivery.
Retail: The Sun Bookshop in Yarraville, Melbourne, has turned to delivering books by bike in the local area to customers who are self-isolating or choosing not to venture out. If customers order online before 2pm, it’s delivered the same day: “We knock on the door, put it on their doorstep and walk away,” says the bookshop’s owner Deb Force.
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