Lockdown has had a profound impact on the way Australian startup founders operate and grow their businesses. Here’s how you can stay productive during the pandemic.
The Australian Government has recently announced a four-phase plan aimed at minimizing ongoing COVID lockdowns. With over half of Australia’s nearly 26 million population in intermittent lockdown for most of 2021, however, lockdowns are set to continue.
The economic impact of lockdowns on Australian startups and small businesses is significant —data indicates that public markets have fallen as much as 25 percent since February 2021, with downward pressure on valuations due to market conditions creating scarce funding opportunities.
Ongoing lockdowns have also impacted the rate at which startups are able to scale, with national spending falling by over 1.8 percent in a single month subsequent to early 2021 shutdowns. Despite the difficulty presented by COVD movement restrictions, however, lockdowns don’t need to lock down the growth of Australian startups.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered significant lifestyle changes in the way Australians interact with markets — increasing reliance on the internet for working, communicating, entertainment and shopping provides unique opportunities for startups currently affected by lockdowns.
Adapting and changing to the economic impact of COVID can help startups capitalize on opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. Here’s how you can maximize your productivity and foster the growth of your startup during lockdowns.
The idea of closing shop and waiting out the lockdowns before re-launching scaling efforts is a tempting prospect for many startup founders. Efficient use of lockdown slowdowns, however, means adapting and innovating — the lockdown is the ideal time to expose opportunities.
Focusing on reducing overheads, for example, is a time consuming task. Taking the additional time presented by lockdowns allows startups to analyze cash flow, adjust financial plans, and identify key areas in which their business can improve key operational efficiencies.
Innovation doesn’t need to focus solely on financial efficiency, either — creating and maintaining a company culture is a major obstacle faced by many startups. The ubiquity of online conferencing tools means that lockdowns are a critical time to engage with and collaborate with startup team members.
Take a look at the Fullstack guide to Team Collaboration Tools: Working Together Online for a list of powerful tools you can use to remotely boost productivity with your startup team.
Engage With Your Clients & Customers
Lockdowns don’t only provide startup founders with more free time — customers and clients possess the same amount of extra free time. Using lockdown to bridge the gap between your business and your target demographic can provide critical insight that can be used to validate new ideas for products or services, or refine existing products with customer feedback.
Lockdown can be a great tool to capture customer feedback in a relaxed, non-intrusive manner. It allows startups and small businesses to capture honest feedback about their products and services. The ability to connect with customers in real-time provides the opportunity to create more interactive customer experiences, or deliver insight to startups that are in the process of launching new products or services and find out how their current customers feel about any upcoming changes.
Refine Your Strategic Plan
During lockdown, you may find that the strategic plan you’ve executed for your business could use a tune-up. There are a number of reasons why you might want to refine your strategy — your strategy may not currently be implemented as planned or expected, or may not yield the results you’ve anticipated.
Breaking down your strategic plan into several horizons, such as the next six months, the next year, or the next five years and reassessing any new opportunities that you may want to pursue or any threats your business should address can yield significant long-term benefits to your startup — even during lockdown.
Upskill Yourself & Upgrade Your Capabilities
Time is of critical value to startup founders. While the lockdown may inhibit your capacity to scale or grow your business as a startup founder, it doesn’t prevent you from enhancing your skill set in order to become a more efficient, more adaptive leader.
Connecting to a variety of online forums is a powerful way to enhance your skills and adopt new business management capabilities. Taking a webinar on how to understand COVID relief packages, improve cash flow management skills, or learn new skills such as marketing or design will allow startup founders to engage with team members and scale rapidly when lockdown ends.
Compose & Publish Content
Creating engaging content is a powerful way to build the authority and presence of your brand, but the process of composing content can be very time consuming. While hiring a content professional can be cost-effective, it’s often prohibitively expensive for easily stage startups.
Publishing self-created content, such as a founder interview, thought leadership articles, or insights into upcoming developments or product launches can dramatically improve your engagement with your market segment, as well as establish a collection of content that can be published after restrictions end.
Lockdowns may prevent startup founders from attending networking meetings, but it doesn’t stop founders from networking and connecting with other founders online. New social networking platforms such as Clubhouse provide professionals and entrepreneurs with the ability to forge new social bonds, creating online communities.
Connecting with other like-minded startup founders online during lockdown periods provides founders with the opportunity to speak with and learn from mentors and colleagues, allowing for skill transfer, collaborative insights, and the potential for new business partnerships.
Lockdown may restrict your movement, but it doesn’t need to restrict the growth of your startup. Creating an online community, solving brand problems, and engaging with subject matter experts online are powerful ways you can remain productive and thrive during lockdown periods.