Creativity key to small business survival

(Australian Associated Press)


The growing economic crisis following the human tragedy of the COVID-19 global pandemic has seen small business owners in Australia nimble to react, re-strategize, and pivot to stay afloat.

With the Gold Coast’s tourism industry decimated with losses exceeding $1billion and continuing to lose an estimated $310 million a month while travel restrictions continue, many of the city’s entrepreneurs and innovators are attempting to tap into new revenue streams in the face of the crisis.

The Gold Coast is an entrepreneurial city. Twenty percent of the workforce owns their own business. That’s one in every five people working for themselves and employing others.

For businesses such as Grandad Jack’s Craft Distillery, Aleeda, and Good Vibes Pilates and Yoga the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has forced them to move quickly to adapt and survive.

David Ridden and son Luke, co-owners of Grandad Jack’s Craft Distillery in Miami, went from making award-winning gin, vodka, and liqueurs to firing up their stills to produce much-needed liquid hand and surface sanitiser.

“The Gold Coast is very much a small business city. It’s the culture here. We run the gauntlet every day and we have to think on our feet or you don’t last,” says David. “We rely on tourism and what comes with that is hospitality. Tourists and locals like to eat out. We literally had two of our biggest industries – tourism and hospitality – wiped out overnight.”

David and Luke pulled their staff of eight together and told them their only chance of survival was to make sanitiser.

“We produced our first lot of sanitiser by Wednesday and started selling it online on Thursday. The timing was good. There was a shortage and we had the equipment and expertise to produce it quickly. It is the only thing that saved our business,” says David. “Everyone in our team pulled together. We have been really surprised by the demand.”

With David’s wife working in infection control at Gold Coast University Hospital, access to the right information to make the best product to do the job was swift.

“Our brand is important to us so we needed to get it right,” he says. “We’ve made over 6,000 litres of sanitiser.”

A change in Queensland law allowing distillers to sell product online and an increase of followers on social media and their website because of sanitiser has been a positive.

“We’ve actually run out of our Greenhouse Gin purely from people going online to order sanitiser and seeing our gins,” says David. “What this has taught us is we need to be creative, resourceful and get on with it. None of us have gone through anything like this before.”

Glen Duggin, director of Aleeda, agrees. The Bur