Industry Insights by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Bilson

Small businesses survivors of the pandemic have one thing in common.

Despite all of the challenges they faced in the past year, they managed to stay connected to their customers.

With shutdowns and restricted trading conditions, this required creativity and ingenuity.

Many small businesses adopted better use of mobile and internet technologies as a result of the crisis.

In fact, being digitally engaged has been very important for businesses, particularly those in rural and regional areas.

MYOB research tells us that SMEs with advanced levels of digital engagement are 50% more likely to grow revenue and earn 60% more revenue per person. Greater digital adoption by SMEs would result in a $10 billion boost to the economy.

So what’s stopping small businesses from becoming more digitised? According to a new report from MYOB 24% of SMEs are worried new technology is too expensive and a further 24% say they don’t have time to set it up.

But it’s worth noting that of the businesses that digitised during the pandemic, 39% found themselves to be more productive and 34% were more profitable. A whopping 85% of small business owners say they used digital tools to keep their business running.

A good example of a small business that turned its fortunes around, thanks to a well-executed digital plan is Sydney florist Twig and Vine

Twig and Vine lost 85% of their business when lockdowns came into effect, with corporate clients putting their flower services on hold and every event cancelled.

The florist had a relatively basic webstore which they would generally get a handful of orders through each week, but it wasn’t their focus.

But with so many people experiencing isolation from family and friends, flowers quickly became a way to send love and let special ones know you were thinking of them.

It wasn’t long before Twig and Vine owners, Elaine and Linda realised they needed to change things up with their business by improving their website and connecting more with their local community customer base.

Using the power of social media – particularly community groups on Facebook – they were able to connect with customers and enhance their presence online.

They also worked with their web guy to refocus their SEO to help target personal orders over corporate work. A new e-commerce functional website is in the making as well so they can come out of this pandemic – in their words – “stronger than ever.”

Like Twig and Vine, many small businesses  - including retailers – are seeing a significant change in consumer habits. Many are seeking out Australian Made products and embracing the Buy Local 

Published 1 February 2021