IF Blog

28.07.2020 - 50 ways to adjust to the new normal for small business

Life as we know it has changed, for individual’s families and businesses alike.

In no specific order here are 50 small business ideas that could help lift your spirits and get your head back in the game. Adjust to the now and be ready for when life gets back to some kind of normal.

1. If you’re in the hospitality game consider a local food delivery partner. A local entrepreneur has created Daily Delivery
2. Look after your mental health, check out Discover Frankston’s list of local online health and wellbeing providers here
3. Make sure you’ve checked out all help that is available to you at all levels of government. For our local cheat sheet click here, for state help and check out federal funding
4. Share the community spirit; start a bulletin board for notices, a chalkboard for positive quotes like Eeny Meeny Café  on Young Street or share jokes on socials.
5. Build your website, online is booming. Sell your products, services, ideas, anything that you can sell. If you can sell ice to eskimos – go for it!
6. Let your creative juices flow, there’s no time like the present to try that wacky idea you’ve had in the back of your mind. Use your downtime to draw that prototype, create a new logo, decorate your window or paint a mural inside your shop.
7. Take away, drive through, walk through are all the new go to. Can you open a street facing counter, turn your carpark into a drive through?
8. Curate your storefront with art by a local artist. Check out what BurgerLove on Thompson Street  has created
9. Make sure to keep your customers in the loop. Still open – great, make sure you have a sign out, updated hours on your socials and a Invest Frankston decal on your door. In hibernation? That’s ok too, as long as everyone knows and we have the decal for that communication also. Email businessconcierge@frankston.vic.gov.au to order
10. Unless you’ve been living under a rock Facebook Live is very ALIVE. Fans love it and it means you get direct notifications to their feed. Be creative, show them how to cook your favorite dish, give them an office hack, or share a secret to your service.
11. Create a mailing list, check out mailchimp or canva. Try and write to check in with your customers once a week or a fortnight, even if it’s just hello.
12. Build up your social media following by posting at least once a day
13. Check in with your business ‘neighbors’. We all need to stick together, you never know the difference a “hi, how are you” can make in these times. And who knows, maybe there’s something you could be working on together.
14. Think big picture, what does your industry and followers like to hear about? Hold virtual events that promote your brand indirectly through your industry.
15. Become community minded; can you start a pay it forward system like Gapfed in Playne Street Frankston or work with a local charity?
16. Become an ambassador for Frankston City. Whether you’re in Seaford, Langwarrin or City Centre, post your favorite places, your favorite sights and great things to do around town
17. Host networking events for entrepreneurs
18. Invite podcast, radio and vlog hosts to broadcast from your store
19. Partner up with a local roaster and offer free coffee or water to everyone
20. Write up your story and share it with the world. Start building your personal brand. One big factor for business survival will be their owners being known because of personal branding
21. Make merchandising. Give it away. Or sell it. Just get your name out there
22. Mend your regular supply chain with local links
23. Send your product or service as a gift to your local heroes (first responders, nurses, garbage collectors, supermarket cashiers)
24. Manufacture something that adds value to what you sell
25. Shop local: get coffee, takeout, printing service and other needs from your neighbors. It’s also the best way to build community and a strong network to boost the local economy. For a list of takeaway lunch options to get you away from the home office checkout Discover Frankston 
26. Make at least one corner of your store instagrammable
27. Adapt. Follow our socials for rule changes. Adapt. Promote your adaptation
28. Find local clubs that relate to your industry. See if you can collaborate or assist eachother. Sporting, community groups, charities or networks
29. Research your industry’s history. Become a community museum celebrating that legacy
30. Make sure everyone sees and understands the safety measures you are implementing to keep your staff and customers safe
31. Reflect on the pause. Find the positive things you experienced and the good things you learned. Write down those you’d like to keep.
32. Reach out to the staff you had to let go. Send them a gift. Make sure they’re fine.
33. Offer bike parking
34. Get out and stand on your doorstep. Make conversation with neighbors and passers-by. Home or business
35. Take a free course on the many platforms that offer them. Learn something that may add value to your business. Business Vic is offering lots of free online courses
36. Make a Blog section on your website to write your stories. They may be short or long but they will surely be entertaining
37. Find small developers working in your area. See how your business can add value to their work
38. Keep a log with the happiest moment of each week in your business. Read it back regularly, especially when there are setbacks
39. Make sure your storefront looks open, inviting and attractive. Change your storefront regularly. Adapt to seasons, holidays & major events.
40. Keep your entry and footpath spotless. Check with Council and your landlord to see what you can paint, put a rug or a pot plant out front or mount lights.
41. If you manufacture something and have scraps, if you serve food and have some left over, find out who could use them. Donate
42. Learn the basics of accounting, marketing and business management
43. Think of teachable skills you have and can share with others in your industry
44. Subscribe to newsletters, blogs, and magazines. Always get a fresh fix of what’s going on in your industry
45. Hustle. Email leads, participate in online groups
46. Volunteer time or resources in a local community group
47. Research online marketplaces. See which apply to your line of business and create a store on as many as needed
48. Research crowdfunding platforms that help fund urban projects. Start a fundraiser to do something good for your locals.
49. Reach out. Get a mentor, a coach, a friend or a colleague. Talk your plans, wishes, dreams and ideas over with them. Support is priceless.
50. Stay informed! Sign up for newsletters from everyone you need to hear from – especially us! https://www.investfrankston.com/connect/

Some ideas credited to Jaime J. Izurieta writing for medium.com and published on Project for Public Spaces. Adapted to Frankston by City Centre Place Manager, Shalee Cameron.

20.05.2020 - The Little Cafe That Could

Restaurants. Cafes. Bars. Passion. Innovation. Frankston.

When it comes to passionate, innovative thinkers, our hospitality operators and owners know no boundaries. They are driven, they thrive to adapt, they are the heart of Frankston City.

So when COVID-19 hit our shores, it also hit our cafes and restaurants hard, leaving them shaking their head in disbelief and sheer fear. How would they survive this? How could they keep their dream alive? But, we know, their undying love for what they do and their utter determination will see them through this, to rise above once more!

Eeny Meeny owner Rob, together with help from writer friend Sarah Tiffen Writing Services, have published this incredibly deep and beautiful piece of insight into the current world of hospitality.

So, we invite you to grab a cuppa, sit down on the couch, and enjoy this great read written on behalf of not just the Frankston hospitality industry but of course, the world’s.

Of course COVID-19 has changed everything. Everything.
In Australia, we’ve been lucky so far – in some parts of the world, the situation is dire. But everywhere, people are isolated from their loved ones, missing each other and the routines, big and small, that shape their lives. Here we continue to face huge disruptions to the way we live, in so many aspects, from home schooling to remote working, from no weddings and funerals, to craving the simple pleasures of the pub, the gym, the pool, the cafe.

Yes – in the middle of it all – hospitality. How integral we realise this has become to our lives. The special, diverse and complex culture of food that has become absolutely central to modern Australian life. Especially in the last decade, the social connection of eating out, having coffee, meeting together has become part of our lifestyle, a mainstay of our suburbs, our social gatherings – our escape, our pleasure, the way we see ourselves and how we live in and enjoy our beautiful world.

And hospitality has been right on the frontline of COVID-19 impacts. Hundreds of thousands of businesses that employ hundreds of thousands of Australians – shut in one fell swoop. It left us all reeling. Owners, employees, the public – who have come to love and rely on café culture as part of our daily social rituals.
The dramatic and rapid changes to the way hospitality is allowed to be delivered have sent huge shockwaves through the industry.

A terrible conundrum: how can we do what we do, when we can’t do it?
This culture shock suddenly forced hospitality owners to throw the rule book in the air and push themselves to their limits to find solutions. To completely reshape and re-evaluate how they do business. To be in survival mode.
And we now find ourselves standing in the eye of the storm. Looking back wide-eyed, trying to comprehend the past few weeks, and looking forward carefully and cautiously, trying to map the landscape of the new world, and wondering where our place in it is.

Knowing in our heart of hearts that with every disruption there comes opportunity – as long as we can find it and capitalise on it.
The impact of this calamity has been very real. Many operators have closed. Many have laid off their employees. Many are looking down the barrel. But at the same time, many, like eeny meeny, have adapted quickly to delivery and take away, while some totally changed their focus.
Everyone is feeling the fear of such an uncertain future. Many lifetimes of work and dedication are now on the line, really on the line – survive or die. Not the “I’ve had a crap day, I give up” type of line, but the actual “I really don’t know how we’ll survive this” line.

For us, for me and the industry friends and contacts I have been talking to on a daily basis, fear and anxiety have been through the roof. Sleep is gone, spreadsheets replaced recipe books and my ABC news app became my new obsession. I couldn’t stop reading articles from around the world. Anything to illuminate what others were doing within hospitality, to stay afloat, to stay relevant, to just exist.
Many of the stories I read were really sad. Almost every article and interview with a hospitality owner highlighted just how broken our industry is. And how this huge event, that has impacted humanity so dramatically, has revealed the fragilities and vulnerabilities within the systems of modern life that we take for granted, including in our own industry.

Suddenly we realised, only one man in Australia, with a business in Shepparton, is manufacturing the masks and protective equipment that underpin our health system. Suddenly, it occurred to the powers that be that we have become overly reliant on imported rice, and that we should be making sure the Australian rice industry has the water to grow our food. We realised our supply chains are vulnerable and exposed when too hooked into international networks – that Australians should face the surreal situation of running out of toilet paper is a real symbol of this tale.
And for the wonderful, vibrant, creative, passionate, diverse, deeply valued hospitality industry – we have also seen our own vulnerabilities exposed. And we are reminded of the absolutely vital nature of local response and local support and localised business.

Our industry is often under pressure, even when the world in not upside-down, even without COVID-19. Every story I have read paints a picture – how most hospitality owners normally work 70-80 hour weeks for minimum wage……to keep the dream alive. How most independent cafes and restaurants operate with such normally thin margins that they had at most, on average, enough money in the bank to survive one month of no trade. How responsible owners felt for their staff.

And again, the stark reminder of the risks of permissive internationalism when borders are closed -how multinational fast food giants would thrive throughout this period, while up to 70 per cent of independent operators would fail. And similarly how our “partnerships” with Internationally based delivery apps drive more sales. The cost however is that these companies take up to 30% of the sale – which is more than the margin in Hospitality, so what’s the point?

This article in the New York Times by Restauranter Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune broke my heart. It is made even more poignant by the fact that I heard her speak about 15 years ago at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival where she was so full of hope, but so full of caution about how unsustainable independent hospitality operations were, even back then, let alone in the face of this current crisis.
Through canvassing my industry peers, I’ve learnt we all feel the same. We’re all worried about the future. Many feel they have the answer – stick to delivery, put up prices, reduce staff.

But I have grave fears about what happens when the government stimulus stops. And make no mistake, it will stop, abruptly, in September. I am under no illusions about life without the governments focused financial help through this period; without it, we would have closed our doors permanently weeks ago.
The “savehospo” hashtag has also helped, but I suspect it won’t last forever. Much like the novelty of standing outside in a Melbourne winter to wait for your boxed up food won’t last. Because, at the end of the day, what we will be facing in this country in the longer term is a fairly big recession. The only consolation is that everyone will be in the same boat. But our attempts to revive hospitality once restrictions are relaxed will be done in the context of very difficult broader financial conditions. And until a vaccine is found, we will all only be operating at 25 to 50 per cent capacity due to social distancing. This doesn’t sound like a viable option to me.

So where does this leave us all? In a time of flux and change. Where we are simultaneously reflecting on the deeper fundamental challenges and questions that COVID-19 has delivered us, and paddling like mad, furiously, to keep afloat without knowing where, when or how the respite will come. Slow but fast, still but frantic, learning how to be different, grieving for the world we’ve lost, rebuilding a different world from the foundations and the wisdoms of the old.
For me, I’m not too bleak. Strangely, the natural pessimist has taken this disaster as a clarion call, and has come out fighting and hopeful. Perhaps I am just stubborn, oppositional – refusing to give up, taking this challenge and fighting back like Rocky.

Perhaps the challenges in my life to date, from childhood onward, have prepared me for this fight. I know I have been so lucky to be supported by Sandra at the shop and Michael in the dark wee hours when my mind has been churning. And I am certainly buoyed and driven by love – love for my café, my customers, for food, my staff and colleagues, my family, my industry as a whole. And love for all the creative endeavours, ephemeral, fragile and transcendent, that have been rocked by COVID-19. I, like everyone, am in awe of the sacrifice and commitment of our frontline health workers, but there is no doubt, in a different way, the hospitality owners and the artists have taken the blows.

blows.

But I remember the power of adversity to stimulate creative responses – never more creative output, never more innovation, flair and resilience, than in the face of adversity. So maybe, this is actually our time to shine. Maybe we emerge stronger, clearer, better, simpler, sweeter.
This situation has forced even me (a creature who despises change) to change! It’s forced me to step back and take a look at my business. Evaluate it. To see its strengths and weaknesses, to see it in a totally new way, and I have responded. We have made a plan to go forward.
We know the answer is in the local – the small, the familiar, the close community, local supply chains, local support, the personal support of every customer, the collective action to keep each other afloat. Opportunities have been unexpected – new customers because of lockdown, new menus and ways of cooking and delivering because of lockdown, a new profile across the city, because of lockdown.
The most important lesson in all of this for me is to believe there is a future for hospitality. It may not look the same as what we knew for a very long time, if at all. But we hope you’ll love it just the same. The thinking caps are squarely on! We are working very hard to create the new normal so you can still enjoy our unique hospitality, and we can continue to serve you and do what we love.
Any ideas you have, please share with us, and we will see you soon.

xxRob