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Adapting to the new normal requires creative thinking

Now is the perfect time for business owners to get creative and try out new ideas.

While some owners might have been tempted to throw up their hands in despair during the recent crisis, others have found solutions that have helped them to keep trading, even if their business model looks very different now to what it did in January.

One example is the Sydney-based Italian restaurant Bar M. Owner and head chef Paola Toppi says she has never felt so much stress in her life as she has through 2020, and while she fears that many of her peers won't survive, she is fighting to make it through.

So when social lockdown was first introduced, she came up with an innovative way to keep trading.

"I rang a friend of mine who had pastas and cheese and food and grabbed everything they had in the warehouse," Toppi says. "They brought it in by truckload for me, and we converted our whole space into a warehouse grocery story overnight."

Trading as a retailer rather than as a restaurant enabled Bar M to survive the worst of the NSW lockdown, and even as it has reopened, Toppi has kept the aisles of groceries.


Ben Lucas is another business owner who had to find a creative solution to surviving lockdown. As the owner of the personal training business Flow Athletic, he knew he had had to act quickly to stay in business.

"We had talked about creating an online platform for seven years, but we fortunately turned one around in 24 hours," Lucas says. "We had four live streaming channels and we lent out all of our 50 spin bikes to our clients, plus we have another 50 more."

Not only was Flow about to keep in touch with its clients, but Lucas says the new model is allowing the business to expand in ways he would not have considered before.

"Before it was just clients in the local area, but now we have personal training clients in Singapore, London, New York, Tasmania," he says.

The range of businesses impacted by COVID-19 and lockdowns is extensive, and even the matrimonial industry has been impacted. For wedding celebrant Mel Jacob, a solution was needed that would enable her to continue serving clients while maintaining social distancing.

"I sort of came back to thinking about (Las) Vegas and the drive-thru weddings, and how that could actually keep our celebrants really safe by keeping them away from the couple, passing the paperwork in and out of the windows," Jacob says. "COVID just can't cancel love, and more than anything love is stronger than ever and should be celebrated more than ever right at this moment."

Jacob now has 18 celebrants around Australia helping lovers get hitched in their cars, and has even launched the concept into the United States.

And finally, COVID-19 is also creating opportunities for up and coming brands to really make their mark by offering something different in the market. For the small organic coffee company Republica Organics, now has been a good time to promote its local origins, and founder Jacqueline Arias has worked hard to push that message out.

"Republica is a small Australian coffee company that is competing with the global giant coffee behemoths," Arias says. "One of the things that we did early on was pivoted our messaging to really own that, so those two hashtags of #supportlocal and #supportAustralianbusiness (are what) we really pivoted all out messaging around."

Dell Technologies offers a range of services to help small businesses with tailored solutions and advice via its Small Business solutions page.

Numerous networks exist to help entrepreneurs foster their creative thinking, including the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN), which brings together women entrepreneurs from around the world to connect with each other, scale their businesses, and ultimately succeed.

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