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. Today it's identifying the ways your business can change to get through the "new normal".
If there's one thing Vaughn Davis wants small businesses not to do, it's to wait for "normal" to come back.
"Tightening your belt and waiting it out is madness. It's not a time for tightening your belt, it's a time for finding new trousers," he said on The Pivot Pod.
Listen to The Pivot Pod here:
Davis is the creative director and owner of advertising agency The Goat Farm, and has just written the book "Covid Schmovid".
It's packed with tips for reimagining your business in the post-Covid world, as well as stories from New Zealand businesses that have done just that.
He points out that the life of a small business in New Zealand is often short, and you can't wait 18 months bunkered down and hoping for a vaccine.
"We've had this in New Zealand before. We had this in the Christchurch earthquake.
"People in Christchurch didn't go, 'when are things going to be back to normal?' They said 'how can we reinvent Christchurch?'"
Of course it's often easier said than done, to imagine ways you can totally reinvent your business.
That's why Davis has put together the list of techniques for coming up with new ideas, including stealing ideas from other industries, and ways to keep building the relationship up with your customers.
But he said that if you want to save yourself the cost of buying the book, it can be summed up in four words: "put your customers first".
He said the world was changing rapidly, which meant that what customers need and want was also changing.
"The businesses who are doing really well out of this, and this businesses that will start and get founded right now, are not the ones saying 'it's really hard right now, it's tough conditions, how can the Government help us'.
"It's the ones going, 'wow the world of our customers is changing in lots of ways, what they need and what they're prepared to pay for are changing, how can we meet those needs?'
"When you nail that, you're on the way to success."
Highlights from the book
Consider the lipstick effect
Even in tough times, people still want a small luxury. What can your business offer as a small taste of luxury and enjoyment, at a smaller price?
If you have to make hard decisions, make them quickly
Some businesses will have to make the brutal decision to downsize. If that's what you're facing, don't put it off. Your staff deserve certainty, and any business changes will be easier if you make them while you still have some money in the bank.
Tap into the 'support local' mood
New Zealanders have never been so keen to go out of their way to support local small businesses. Anything you can do to show that you're part of the community, and make it easy for them to support your product, will help the bottom line.
As you make changes, you'll run into teething problems. Talk to your customers constantly about what you're doing and how it's going. They'll be more invested in your story as a business, and more willing to cut you some slack if anything goes wrong.
For all the tips listen to The Pivot Pod here, or check out the book "Covid Schmovid".