Welcome to The Pivot Pod, where we'll figure out together what's next for small business. Hosted by Frances Cook, with a new expert on each episode.
We all know that lockdown was tough, for some more than others, and it's far from over yet.
Travel businesses are decimated, and hospitality faces a rocky road. Even the big businesses are suffering - but it's the small businesses making up the backbone of our economy that truly need protecting.
Listen to the podcast episode here
New Zealand's small and medium businesses are 97 per cent of all business here, and employ around 630,000 people. That's 29 per cent of all New Zealand employees.
Forget about too big to fail, small business is too important to fail.
But it's not all bad. The strange changes brought about by Covid-19 haven't flattened everything, but instead created a heightened "winners and losers" economy.
Many businesses have successfully switched to delivering their products, while anything to do with health is soaring. Some parts of the business world are looking rosy and any firms that can need to lean towards those healthy sections.
On the latest episode of The Pivot Pod, Herald business editor at large Liam Dann said food production, retail with click and collect, tech and software were all doing well.
The flip side of the coin was tourism and education, two sectors that have been ravaged by the worldwide border closures.
"Obviously the direct tourism businesses, but also hospitality, so some areas like Queenstown and the West Coast of the South Island are going to find it really hard," Dann said.
"Combined, tourism and education is something like 30 per cent of our export receipts. To have that disappear overnight, you can't really downplay how serious that is."
The answer for many will be finding new business strategies, with many looking to build locally-focused companies that are accessed online.
"I've had people say to me that we've had years' worth of digital adoption crunched into just a few weeks," Dann said.
"Even things like online banking, or using apps to pay for things, a lot of people have had to learn how to deal with that stuff. They won't go back."
That analysis is widespread. While it may feel like Covid-19 has dramatically changed the business world, what's really happened is it has drastically accelerated changes that were already under way.
Brick and mortar stores were already under pressure from online shopping, and there was already increasing pressure for flexible work options. But instead of the gradual changes that give people time to adapt, this one arrived with a thump overnight.
The problem is it's difficult to jump into this digital reality from a standing start. Websites often take time and investment, and apps can be even more difficult.
Dann recommended starting with whatever communication strategies you have right now, while you build towards a bigger online presence.
Using phone, email, and social media are all good stop-gap measures, and also keep you top of mind for customers who might need your services in the future.
"It's not as hard to set up the Facebook page, and most of the businesses I buy off regularly are all sending me updates through Facebook, Instagram, and even email actually, just saying where they're at and where they will be at in the next phase."