Contrary to ongoing ‘doom-and-gloom’ commentary, there’s a strong, steady pulse beating in New Zealand’s small business sector as owners display remarkable resilience, high confidence and a pragmatic approach to the challenges of COVID19.
The Alternative Board’s August Business Pulse revealed 95% of small-to-medium size enterprises are confident they’ll get through. More than a third of small businesses have benefited from government support with only a small percentage anticipating job losses once the wage subsidy ends. Banks have been understanding, helping where necessary or carrying on with business as usual, and jobs are holding steady.
Sales and orders remain buoyant with supply lines and international transportation links for exporters seemingly intact.
“Given we are awash with negative commentary, the results were heartening” said Stephen James of The Alternative Board. “I think, in part, the focus has been on the hit taken by more visible sectors like tourism and hospitality but our members are involved in many other activities and their perspective hasn’t necessarily been reflected to date.
“The strong Pulse Check was even more remarkable as the change to Alert Level Three for Auckland and Alert Level Two for the rest of New Zealand occurred during the consultation period.”
On the down side, mainstream media is reducing confidence levels and the wish-list of things that would help business owners get through the remainder of 2020 includes more customers, more government support – and a rest, as business owners report they’re feeling exhausted.
“It is understandable that business owners are exhausted. Although confidence is high and business steady, they’ve worked extremely hard to achieve stability in our tumultuous times. I would anticipate this pace will continue as they adapt and adopt new approaches or innovations. While things may change and outlooks darken, business owners are pragmatic in their determination – the Kiwi ‘can do’ approach to adversity and an unwillingness to be beaten is certainly in evidence. They are ‘COVID courageous’ and I think their confidence level reflects this.
The Alternative Board’s members and associates are primarily involved in industries that make, supply, service, fix, invent or build things and the results may reflect that this group has been under-represented to date, with focus falling on hospitality, retail and tourism in other surveys.
The Alternative Board supports small to medium sized businesses and their owners through advisory boards consisting of other local business owners, expert one-on-one coaching, a suite of business planning tools and business mentoring.
A sudden slip into Alert Level Three, the blast of the emergency ‘COVID’ warning through our phones and once again we’re into the balancing act of keeping our businesses moving in exceptional circumstances.
Last month our Pulse Check results told us how adaptable and flexible New Zealand’s small business are, with business owners altering operations and changing practice in order to survive the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us all. Just as we have rolled out our August Pulse Check – which you can access here if you would like to participate – the beat has changed again and, in Auckland, we are facing at least three days at Level 3, probably more, with the rest of New Zealand parked up at Level 2 for the time being.
We asked our Auckland team for their thoughts on the current situation and their advice was simple — we’ve been here before, rely on past experience and know that it will pass.
The Alternative Board’s managing director Stephen James said: “Knowing it will pass, spend some time addressing a few scenarios. For example, if Level 3 lasts, as announced, for three days what do you need to do? Or, if it remains in place for two weeks or if Level 4 is declared and we have full lockdown for an indefinite period — what then? Develop plans of action for each scenario and communicate these to your staff and stakeholders.”
Pulse check shows members are tackling the challenges of COVID19 head-on
We asked you how you were doing and you told us loud and clear — New Zealand’s small businesses are bravely facing the future, investing in growth and ready to reinvent themselves if necessary.
Our July Pulse Check revealed you are confident you’ll make it through — even though for some it has been touch and go.
Many of you are ready to reinvent yourselves if necessary, increasing spending on marketing, digital solutions and additional staff but you are borrowing more.
Your responses reflect what we’ve been hearing from our members — that it has been a very challenging time. What was surprising was the degree of flexibility and willingness to change.
There was no doubt that the coming months will be challenging but finding innovative solutions and meeting the challenges head-on are at the forefront of your thinking.
Government support has been the saviour for many and we were pleased to see that the majority of our members looked to The Alternative Board for help and advice.
The health and viability of our business owners is at the heart of all we do, which is why we feel this regular Pulse check is critical. Listening to you in this way means we can ensure you have the right support and advice you need not just to get through the disruption of COVID19 but to thrive and grow into the future.
Running a business in ‘ordinary’ times is demanding but it is even more so in these extraordinary times. We know members round the country have been working nonstop and, after many months, you have started to feel the effects with many business owners saying they need a rest. Unfortunately, any respite is out of reach right now as you strive to meet the many challenges we face so I would urge you to continue to look for support from your board and facilitator as the months progress and look after your physical and mental well-being.
The Pulse Check was conducted during July across its nationwide network of members and boards and we will be checking in with you again in August. In the meantime, a heartfelt thanks from all of us at The Alternative Board on behalf of all the Kiwis you work with, for and alongside – small to medium enterprises are the heartbeat of our economy and your drive and tenacity is incredible. Thank you – and remember we’re always on hand to help.
Many years ago, when I was a young 20 something year old, I was offered a role as an Insurance Consultant for a well-known New Zealand company. Working from an office in the capital city, Wellington and being a new resident there I didn’t have a great network or access to a great database. I learnt very quickly that the telephone book was a good source of potential prospects and even had the address and phone numbers alongside the names. They were in alphabetical order to make it easier for me. So, armed with a pen, paper, ruler and telephone I started my journey to build a client base and to earn myself a substantially better income than I’d previously experienced.
The company also provided me with a folder that had “Daily Diary” written in bold letters on the front. I was shown what to do with it. Record everything that I did. That was – phone calls, discovery meetings, presentations, sales and non-sales made. Then with every sale I would record my commissions earned and would keep a rolling target of my income over time.
After almost a year I had an accurate and detailed enough record to understand exactly what my time was worth. How many calls it took to get an appointment. How many appointments to get a sale and so on. I was able to understand my conversion rates and where I could find improvements. Most of all though I knew that no matter what the activity or the result I was creating an income from doing the right things at the right times. Even when a potential prospect said no to me on the phone I knew it was making me $50 every call regardless of the outcome. I set goals to improve that number. I was able to budget well to achieve my desired income and I knew exactly how many calls I had to make every day.
This was the best ever start I could have to my sales career. It has served me extremely well running large teams of sales people. Setting budgets and goals for the companies I owned or worked with and ensuring I met or exceeded targets.
So why is 1440 an important number? Well every day has 24 hours and every hour has 60 minutes. There are 1440 minutes in a day. It’s a finite number and you can’t create more time.
When you know what each minute is worth to you in business and you have a plan then you’ll see that every minute counts. Make the best use of your time and keep a good record of what you do. This will change the way you think about those who say no in sales because the no’s are still making you money.