Finders Keepers Small Business Survival Tips – Pt 1

Written by Sarah Thornton
on 11 May, 2020
Moeder Fox Stall at Finders Keepers Melb SS19 – Captured by Samee Lapham

10 CREATIVE BUSINESS SURVIVAL TIPS by Finders Keepers Director Sarah Thornton – Part 1. Plus part 2 can be found here!

As a small business ourselves, we have felt the crushing impact of COVID-19. It directly affected our own operations and we’ve been witnessing the same thing ripple across the small business and maker community. 

Our story is just one of the hundreds of stories that will be told about this global pandemic. The thought that we’re not alone in this, does bring some comfort but also makes us want to roll up our sleeves and help as many people as we can!

Each day brings new change, challenges and opportunities. This month we’re putting our foot firmly on the opportunity accelerator.

The isolation laws might be lifting slowly, but we know that surviving and thriving is a long term project for now. I’ve put together my top 10 tips to support you through this huge period of change and unknown. Here are the first five creative business tips, stay tuned for the round-up later this week!

1 – Maintain Perspective:

Our businesses may not look the same. Current projects, collections set to launch and short-term goals might have gone completely side-ways overnight. Don’t dwell too much on what you can’t do right now, start to shift and focus on what you can do.

Try and practice gratitude daily. What things can you be grateful for? It definitely starts to shift your perspective and subsequently your priorities.

Mindset is super important during this time. Not only are these unprecedented times that no-one knows how to navigate, but quite literally we’re all in the same boat, and we need to ensure that we’re looking out for ourselves and each other. 

We’re all in this together. Seek out help if you need it. Make sure to keep talking to your maker mates, and if you don’t have any yet? Now is the best time to start a group, join an online art club, or start new conversations and make sure you keep going every day and maintain hope.

Rose Jensen Hold Ceramics Stall at Finders Keepers SS19 Brisbane captured by Samee Lapham

2 – Understand your financial situation

If like us, your income completely got swallowed up overnight, now is the time to really invest into knowing what your current financial situation is and how to project future cash flow. What are your minimum obligations and what do you need to do to keep afloat? You may need to cut your operations right down but there will be ‘non-negotiable’ areas you can’t cut in order to successfully operate and even grow during this time. 

Having a safety net to continue to do what you do is really crucial, but also knowing how to invest what little money you might have during this time – in order for the wheels to keep moving forward – is really important too.

As with any business, sometimes you need to spend money to make money. Make sure what you’re investing your time, money and resources in right now into what will come back three-fold with some positive ROI (return on investment). 

Make sure you’re looking at low-risk and high reward goals that will not only help you to survive but can bridge enough opportunity for you to maintain and recover into your future. It’s pretty common for creatives to feel completely overwhelmed with cash flow projections and budgets, so don’t feel alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! During these times there are a lot of people giving away their time and resources for free too.

3 – Seek out support opportunities

Whilst everyone’s situation is different based on their business set-up, personal situation and area of residence, the Federal Government, State Governments, and Local Councils have a plethora of grants and packages available to help small businesses.

Not only that, but there is also a heap of free courses and content out there to support the recovery and survival of your small business.

Buttons Ink Stall at Finders Keepers SS19 Brisbane captured by Samee Lapham

4 – Pivot, don’t Pause:

Does your business model feel frozen? It might if you rely on real-life experiences to make money. 

There is no better time to pivot and adapt how you operate, not only for short-term survival but for longer-term gains.

If you’re a clothing brand, how can you change your online experience for your customers?

Brands that are doing it well are doing video showings of garments, they’re re-defining how they show fit guides, they’re offering at-home try before you buy services, they’re asking what their customers want and need. 

If you are a business that sells party dresses, and there are no functions happening right now, what can you do that is relevant for this current climate? Perhaps it is pivoting your product range, or asking yourself how can use this time wisely to elevate your business to relaunch?

How can you get your customers more involved? If you’re a maker, how can you host online art or craft tutorials? Can you send out at-home DIY packs? 

Take a look around at how people are innovating at this time. Ask your customers what they want to see, what are other makers and brands doing that are picking up pace at this time?

Start a group chat with other makers to ask how you can also be of service – instead of competing, collaborate and support each other.

Your business may not look the same, but you also might start to do something you’ve never done before and that could be the start of something brilliant as well!

Kirralee & Co Stall Finders Keepers Bris SS19 Captured by Samee Lapham

5 – Share your story:

Now more than ever, people want to connect with other humans. Tell your unique story. What kind of things do you value in your business and in your lives? How can you use that to serve others? How have you been impacted? We think it’s imperative to tell your story in a way that feels right to you. 

Not only telling your story about what you do, why you do it and what your situation is right now, but also how your products are made.

From my experience, our community loves a good behind the scenes tour. They want to know how things are made (videos), and really love ‘how-to at home’ guides. Give them a visit into your creative world.

Bringing forward the authenticity of your brand and your message will connect you to your customers and attract new ones. You can also ask them to engage with you in new ways.

It’s time to really highlight your values, tell your stories and maybe part of that is to tell the stories of your customers too? People want to connect and support small businesses, most of all they want to connect to humans doing good things.

Here are a few resources to help:

  • Xero Business continuity hub: Support for Small Business
  • Acceler8: Free small business financial tools & resources
  • Stimulus Packages: A great site that lists all the stimulus packages available Nation and statewide
  • Grant’d: A great free downloadable guide for 75 grants during COVID-19
  • Good Design Australia: has put together a Taskforce that is helping businesses do the reimaging. They are offering services in business model design amongst other things.

Thanks for reading. Get into part 2 now as we share the next five tips!

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