Late last week the Prime Minister announced at a press conference that the measures Australia has taken so far appear to have been pretty successful at preventing the coronavirus from spreading too far through the community.
This means there is a real possibility that restrictions on work and society could start to be lifted in stages, beginning in approximately four weeks, so long as necessary health safeguards were all in place.
The health safeguards were: a more extensive virus testing regime so asymptomatic people could be tested; a robust-enough health system to ensure any outbreak could be managed; and the ability to lift contact tracing to "an industrial capability".
This last item refers to the controversial app developed in Singapore. There are privacy concerns around its use, which is expected to be voluntary. These concerns now need to be weighed against what is right for the health & economic future of all Australian’s.
These are the most encouraging signs yet that, provided the trajectory of infections remains under control, we are entering an environment where business can start to think about what recovery will look like. This is cause for confidence, which should have a slow flow-on effect to the rest of the economy.
The government also sent a signal that businesses won’t have to go it alone, acknowledging that growing the economy under the old settings is no longer an option.
Following discussions with the RBA governor and other leading economic advisers, the Prime Minister said, "We are going to have to have economic policy measures that are going to have to be very pro-growth, that are going to enable businesses to employ people, that will enable businesses to invest and businesses to move forward."
As an SME owner, you can keep one eye on government announcements of measures to support the above statement, while also contemplating how best to position yourself for an uplift in activity and positive sentiment.
While we are still in uncharted territory and none of us has a crystal ball, there are some potential scenarios you might want to consider:
Scenario 1: Pent-up demand.
Once relaxation measures begin to come in, there could be a surge in demand as your market relishes the relative freedoms and wants to make up for lost consumption.
This scenario is an argument for not cutting back too far today, to ensure you are well positioned to capitalise on the post-crisis recovery.
Scenario 2: Pivoting your business to respond to different needs.
Like the boutique distillers who have switched production to making hand sanitiser, are there current or potential post-pandemic market demands that you could position your business to respond to? Can this be done by adapting existing resources and with minimal staff retraining? Do you need to begin exploring other supply chain options, or alternative sales channels?
Scenario 3: Put a long term strategy in place
If you’re a B2B, and your clients are “in hibernation”, consider doing some long-term strategic planning.
Devote some energy to re-evaluating your operations, platforms and processes, or researching alternatives. Take the time to quietly and prudently nurture contacts and leads, letting them know you stand ready to work together again, and in the meantime are using the time wisely by positively planning for contingencies and future developments.
At Banjo, while we are helping some of our clients work through immediate problems they’re experiencing today, we’re also working with others on their post-pandemic recovery planning.
That can range from the provision of working capital to help fund the reinvigoration of their business, or helping with a short-term cash boost when the usual cycle of fund flow has ceased.
We can all take heart that the signs are the economy will be given support and, importantly, freedom to revive and grow on the other side of this.