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5 Steps to Manage the COVID-19 Crisis for Australian SMBs

5 Step Guide to Manage the COVID-19 Crisis for Australian Small-Medium Businesses


This is NOT a drill! COVID-19 has become the greatest challenge of our lifetime and many generations to come.


It is being compared with World War I and II and the unforeseeable impact they had on humanity with their legacy still haunting us today.

We know you have received countless emails from various Government bodies, health organisations, your accountants, the finance industry and many, many more.

What is abundantly clear is the need to ADAPT, to ADJUST, to PIVOT (the latest cliché) as to navigate YOUR business through this crisis and back into calm waters.

As an important member of the GDR Media Group family we want to help you through this because we are not just a marketing agency. We are an institution that has weathered many storms and crisis over the past 40 years, including the Crash of 1979, the “recession we had to have” of 1990, the bubble of 2001, the GFC in 2008 and now COVID-19.



Like you, we are a small business on the front line dealing with the same challenges you are. Our gift to you is our understanding and wisdom.

We are seasoned at managing through a crisis and this guide will provide some tips to direct your business to chart the right course and navigate you through these turbulent times.


Your future doesn’t need to be uncertain because GDR Media Group is here to help you to:

  • Anticipate market conditions;
  • Refine your core business offering;
  • Eliminate costs;
  • Identify new market opportunities;
  • Refine your organisational effectiveness.


5 steps to help beat the COVID-19 crisis

  1. Reset the numbers
  2. Empathise with your customers
  3. Analyse for opportunities
  4. Prioritise the plan
  5. Implement and pivot with



Step one – Reset The Numbers


Whilst you are going through very tough times, don’t underestimate the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

  • Operating Costs
  • Income
  • Liquidity


Knowing these 3 sets of numbers intimately is critical to pivot your business through challenging times.

The Objective: Maximise Revenue | Reduce Costs | Prudently use Profits

What to do: Prioritise your business’ critical costs and reduce all costs that allows the business to continue functioning productively.


How to reset the numbers?

  1. Identify what fixed costs can be reduced and what variable costs can be removed;
  2. Operate at “necessity levels” eliminating all discretionary spending;
  3. Consider reducing peoples hours of work (e.g. 9 day fortnight);
  4. Ask staff to take all outstanding leave and only run a skeleton staff in line with demand;
  5. Consider asking staff to take short term salary reductions to support the interim business viability and share in a reward system further down the track (e.g. pay them 80% or 75% of salary, depending on what the business can afford to sustain the anticipated length of the shutdown);
  6. Make tough decisions on restructuring your business ensuring it is equipped with the right people, with the right mindset, and the capability to take your business forward;
  7. Limit or reduce product lines to only high performing products, focusing your cost management into more desired and therefore more profitable business areas in market demand;
  8. Reset your business goals to adapt to the current economic climate (e.g. break-even, set-loss position);
  9. Budget your business liquidity position using a reduced operating cost model to sustain an interim trading period;
  10. Budget and re-forecast in only a 1, 2 and 3 month cycle allowing for pivots and progress to be assessed;
  11. Forecast for best case and worst case outcomes and implement the revised business model based on a conservative worst-case assessment;
  12. Channel all focus into current performing business pillars, maximising revenue, whilst planning to pivot services to stay in demand.


Step Two – Empathise with your customers


Whilst you are going through very tough times, don’t underestimate the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Take a moment to “walk in your customers shoes”:

  • Understand what they are going through;
  • What impact this crisis is having on them;
  • Determine how their needs have changed;
  • How can you help them solve those problems will be key to your success.


As you are doing right now:

  • Think how your customer is going to need to evolve to stay in demand as we navigate through this crisis;
  • Anticipate and react with speed to this need, it will help you maintain or gain market share;
  • Bold businesses responding in this way can thrive during times of crisis and economic downturn;
  • What is the “necessity” in your service offering that will make you an irreplaceable business partner to your existing or new customers?



  • Who are you targeting?
  • What’s their new problem?
  • What’s the one thing you can say to solve this problem?
  • What will you do that is mission critical for them?
  • Why should they believe you?


Trust during uncertainty is a strong currency

Rethinking how your business will evolve to serve the needs of this “new market” condition will determine success or failure.

Communication and connection with your customers is the most critical step in this process because this is where true partnership is born, not just a transactional relationship, which is not core to their business needs.


Increase your profitability with GDR’s multi-media marketing strategy

Bringing us on as your marketing partners is a guaranteed route to increasing your profitability through the excellent development and execution of your marketing campaigns. This is because as part of our briefing process, our number one rule is to always place ourselves in the shoes of your customers. From understanding what their acute pain points are and what’s keeping them up at night, to how their needs will evolve amidst their various environments. We leave no stone left unturned in discovering what it feels like to walk in their shoes. We then connect what you can do for them, so that they consider/choose you.




Step Three – Analyse For Opportunities


After reviewing the first 2 stages of this Guide you will have performed a concise business health check / reality check.

You will have greater clarity on the financial condition and endurance of your business combined with a more meaningful understanding of the ‘new needs’ of your customers and these should start forming new business strategies to navigate the COVID-19 climate. Start asking yourself and discussing the following questions with your team:

  1. How do we make our products / services stronger?
  2. How do we maximise the new opportunities discovered to service the needs of our customers in a different way?


This is where the ideation process starts…

  • Ideate – conceive your ideas via a brainstorm framework.
  • Analyse– review the merit of each idea to achieve the desired goal.
  • Plan– prioritise and develop the blueprint for execution.
  • Implement– engage the most appropriate go to market execution.
  • Assess– review in key milestones based on the project (weekly, monthly).
  • Adapt – pivot elements of the plan to optimise performance.


In undertaking these opportunities consider:

  • Capacity– to undertake the task quickly and effectively.
  • Capability– to execute the task to the highest standard expected.
  • Size– prioritise resources available to execute the task efficiently.
  • Timing– how quickly you can execute each task to serve the required needs.


For effective brand strategy choose GDR – the experts in storytelling

We can work with you to bring your voice, vision and values to the foreground. Whether you’re a start-up business or looking to grow and pivot during these times, together we can develop your brand and story so that your business is seen, considered and chosen over your competition. We can help you tell your story and create a compelling story of “why you” to help you connect with more customers.


Step Four – Prioritise the plan


Choosing what NOT to do is just as critical as what to do.

Managing through this crisis will result in you having potentially less resources at your disposal and a reduced output.

You must prioritise your plans based on those servicing more immediate needs of the customer and / or the new market opportunity. Then filter this on the forecast ROI that each plan will yield for your business.

Review this based on short, medium and long term returns because this will allow you to manage your capacity and resources to deliver strong expectations management with your customers.

You’re not alone in doing this. Consider undertaking partnerships to scale up knowledge, resources and output more quickly.


Partner with GDR for an efficient and high-quality service

We will be honest with you to help you recognise what is working and achieve some quick wins together, as well as larger opportunities on where to next. Together we can look ahead and stay flexible to maximise success.




Step Five – Implement and pivot with speed


Don’t let perfect get in the way of better.

  • Fast iterations of strategy are needed to anticipate a changing market and capitalise on opportunity;
  • Don’t be afraid to fail fast – Learn | Reset | Go Again;
  • Are your competitors planning or doing?
  • Each initiative undertaken should be based on calculated risk taking, using all the data captured in the above 4 areas of review;
  • Leverage the key trait of an SMB – you are nimble!
  • Speed to market is going to be the new currency during these new market conditions or opportunity will pass you by;
  • Engage fortnightly with a business mentor, consultant or partner outside of “your world” to validate plans from another perspective and one that will challenge your plans to ensure they are robust enough to achieve your reworked business goals.


Let GDR help you move with speed

Choosing us to join you will mean your business keeps moving forward, because our fingers are always on the pulse to give you the tools and outlook needed to keep ahead of your competition. We are nimble like you, as a fellow small business, and you can trust us to help you take the leap your business needs to achieve your new goals.



Finally, consider this:

Adaptation is the process of change by which one becomes better suited to their environment.

As Charles Darwin said:

“it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change”


It is imperative that this becomes your core skill over the next 12-18 months as we navigate the challenging and continually changing economics created by COVID-19.

It will mean the difference between – SURVIVAL, EXTINCTION OR EVOLVING into a thriving business that meets more needs of the market!


GDR Media Group is a business partner that will walk with you side-by-side. Use our business, historical wisdom and real experience to guide you to design these business strategies that will propel your business forward.

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