Free expert advice: We’re here to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19

Council is reaching out to businesses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) with free expert advice to ensure they are supported through this challenging period and emerge stronger on the other side.

Council’s BizHub Maroondah is offering businesses access to professional one-on-one support – whether your business is still trading and needs assistance or struggling to stay afloat.

The critical business assistance service provides a free 30-minute phone/video call to businesses who require immediate help, which is led by a team of business experts including a business psychologist.

To receive help, businesses must complete a BizHub Maroondah Callback Request form, available through the BizHub website.

Geoff Daniel, a member of the Maroondah Business Advisory Group, heads the team of business experts helping business owners to successfully navigate their way through the economic downturn.

Geoff says the service is intended to quickly ascertain the issues affecting a business, as well as examine other areas that might be critical to the business’ survival.

As a management consultant with a background in business disaster recovery, Geoff is trained to solve complex issues, devise invaluable strategies and improve the financial and operational health of a business.

While no one foresaw the extent of the COVID-19 crisis, Geoff says what businesses do now to adapt to the challenges could determine how well they thrive moving forward.

Small businesses – those with fewer than 20 employees – account for 96 per cent of all businesses in the City of Maroondah and are often the engine room of innovation.

Geoff says small business owners need to put optimism aside and be realistic about what approach needs to be taken if they are to increase their chance of survival.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown even the most prepared businesses into chaos. Businesses that take this opportunity to push forward and explore new ideas will come out on top after the quarantine period has lifted,” he says.

“I think it’s safe to say that the world we emerge into will be a bit different to the one we left. And for small business, that means they need to have a good think about how they position themselves moving forward, and really encourage innovation,” he says.

While some businesses will struggle to remain viable and require collaborative support of industry associations, government and fellow businesses to help weather the pandemic storm, others will come through the other side and be stronger for it.

Those businesses which have digitisation capabilities are likely to rebound from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, says Geoff, whereas sectors that have been hardest hit (i.e. retail, hospitality, manufacturing, wholesale and recreation), and those less prepared for technological changes, are unlikely to recover as quick, if at all.

“The businesses that were really performing well prior to COVID-19 will be the ones that will make it through to the other side; they might be smaller and a little different, but they will still be there. Whereas sadly, others might not be as fortunate,” he adds.

However, with a careful balance of pragmatism and strategy, small business owners have the power to ride the wave, grow, and ultimately come out on top.

“I think that for those businesses that come through (okay) there’ll be enormous opportunity on one hand, but also a pressing need to think a little bit differently. This is an opportunity to start the wheels turning to talk about what it’s going to look like on the other side (post-coronavirus) and what businesses can do differently, and this is a really important part of what we do.”

BBP Connect

Business owners with strong professional networks will also be the ones who are presented with ongoing opportunities.

Geoff urges businesses who are still trading to register a profile on the Bayswater Business Precinct (BBP) Connect online directory, which is now open to businesses across Maroondah, Knox and the Yarra Ranges.

BBP Connect is a digital community connecting local businesses and local people. Businesses can post their local supply needs, share local business news, tips and advice, and establish vital connections and collaborate with other businesses across the region.

“BBP Connect is a fantastic resource because it encourages businesses to buy local. If, for example, you’re a manufacturer of products and you currently buy your raw materials from elsewhere in the country or maybe even overseas, there’s an opportunity to find out whether you can buy these things locally. It’s about making a conscious decision and to rethink how you go about running your business.

“Jump onto BBP Connect, set up a profile, put together an offer of some description and let everyone know that you’re here because we want to rev-up this business engine in our region, and this is a great way to do it,” says Geoff.

“BBP will be central to getting our region through this crisis.”

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