The hidden benefits of running a business in lockdown

Patrick Stafford

The COVID-19 lockdown is causing no end of problems for businesses, but are there any unexpected benefits?

Running a business in the middle of a pandemic is probably the biggest challenge many business owners have ever had to face.

But there can be hidden benefits.

Not only have business owners seen the benefits of running things from home, but many say this time has helped them form a new perspective on doing business.

In fact, some say they’ll never approach business the same way again.

It might be too much to call these “silver linings”, but we think there’s plenty of lessons here for entrepreneurs to learn. So we asked several Australian business owners: what are some of the unforeseen benefits you’ve found by doing business in the middle of an outbreak?

Law firm takes the plunge – goes completely paperless

Andrew Douglas, managing principal at FCW Lawyers, said his entire team has been working remotely, which has revealed enough benefits on its own. But every week, the company’s executive team gets together and examines how the business can do better, reviewing existing practice.

As a result, he says, the company has gone completely paperless. It’s likely they won’t return to old ways any time soon.

“One finding is certainly around office space, but we’ve now gone completely paperless in 3-4 weeks,” said Douglas.

After this whole fiasco is over, he said, “we’ll be a much cheaper business.”

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As a digital agency with clients including RACV, Bonds, World Vision, Adobe, and more, Carter Digital always has its hands full anyway. But founder James Noble says the entire pandemic has forced him to slow down and work on the business.

“You can get through the ‘to-do’ list of things you’ve put off, such as ways to reduce your outgoings, your ever-increasing subscriptions costs, and better utilisation and leveraging your team skills and abilities outside of their current role to add more offerings to your businesses or brand.”

The biggest lesson, though? Learning.

Noble said he’s always forced to learn new things on the fly because he’s so busy. But now, he’s able to up-skill in new areas.

“The gains of a reduced day-to-day interruption finally give you the time up-skill yourself in areas you want to, rather than have too.”

Physio ditches office space… for good?

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed so much of how The Physio Co works, that founder Tristan White says the company’s support team may never work in the same place again.

“Our team is saving heaps of time by not commuting and the business can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars per year if we rethink how and where our support team work,” said White.

With extra time, Melbourne Float House finds new business models

Although Kerry Thurrowgood’s business is closed right now, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen any benefits. Just like James Noble, she’s taken this time to examine her entire business – Melbourne Float House – from top to bottom, and managed to find new growth areas.

Without COVID-19, she says, that wouldn’t have happened.

“This time has allowed me to really sit down and evaluate what we do, how we do it and where the gaps are,” said Thurrowgood.

“It has also cleared space in my head to allow us to work on a whole new business model within our current structure – this would not have happened without COVID-19.”

Adore Beauty finds the beauty of coworkers

Working day in and day out in the same place, with the same people, can sometimes grate on you. But Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty, said the lockdown has helped her see how much her coworkers bring to the table.

Perhaps this is a time for business owners to break misconceptions about employees, and consider what responsibilities or challenges those employees might like to try on.

“I think one of the upsides is that we’ve all become very grateful for our coworkers,” said Morris.

“All those niggly things that bother people in an office environment (who left the kitchen in a mess?) all disappear, and we all suddenly realise how much we value our personal connections.”

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