How Brisbane businesses are facing our new normal

Local business The Answer has been designed to suit the new status quo.

As Council continues to support Brisbane local businesses and employers as part of our recovery efforts, we’ve been speaking to some of our small business owners who have shown just how resilient and entrepreneurial they are when times get tough.

As businesses begin to reopen and navigate the ‘new way’ forward, we’re sharing some local stories of pivoting, solidarity and resilience, hoping it offers some extra inspiration to get your business back on track as restrictions ease.

Adaptability keeping doors open

Small business is at the heart of our local economy, and popular West End bar, The End, had to adapt quickly after restrictions meant ceased trading. After getting the green light to reopen for take-away, they turned the bar into a bottle shop and partnered with nearby local businesses to offer package deals.

The End co-owner Nick Goding said authentic community connections had always been at their businesses’ core and the current situation only highlighted that.

“Being allowed to diversify and offer takeaway has saved our business from closing down,” he said.

“I love West End and have been an active member of the community for a long time, owning businesses on Vulture Street over the past 15 years. We’ve had a lot of support and I appreciate everything I’ve received from this community.” he said.

Similarly, owner of Brisbane-based influencer marketing agency Scrunch and newly created hand sanitiser brand The Answer, Danielle Lewis, said she had been blown away by the support from fellow business owners.

“Coronavirus threw us into a spin and the biggest priority for us was to look after our team, so we took matters into our own hands and designed our campaigns and products to suit the new world,” she said.

“People have been having the worst days of their life and they take the time to jump online and buy a product that might keep someone else in business,” she said.

“The support is absolutely critical - the mental health and financial impact of coronavirus may outlast the health impact, so we’ve got to band together.”

Every crisis brings its own opportunities

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many business owners and industries needing to drastically change how they operate – switching bricks and mortar for online sales, evolving from a bustling cafe to a grocery store, or swapping fine dining for elegant take-away. The need to pivot continues as restrictions ease and doors reopen.

The arts industry has found themselves dialing in to a very new way of operating and Queensland Music Festival (QMF) is now connecting established professionals in their field with arts workers looking to upskill through 30-minute conversations called ‘Coffee with the Creative Community’. 

“Coffee with the Creative Community gives arts workers the chance to learn more about a specific field – program curation, technical productions or the business side of the arts industry.” QMF CEO Joel Edmondson said.

A changing market

Brisbane creative market operators BrisStyle saw the impact of the coronavirus as scheduled markets were postponed and many of their community left uncertain on future plans.

Operations Manager, Belinda Harris, said the community has remained positive and it was in Brisbane locals’ nature to rally behind those doing it tough.

“We’ve seen it time and time again, from floods to fire and now this,” she said.

“Our members quickly adapted when we knew we wouldn’t be able to host face-to-face events for the time being.

“All they wanted to know was what they could do to help,” said Belinda of the 225-strong local BrisStyle members who bring their locally-made products to regular Brisbane markets.

This local market vendor community, which is also the largest online creative community in Queensland, gives members opportunity to connect with other makers, participate in professional development workshops and more.

Change is the only certainty

While her business, Scrunch felt the economic impacts of coronavirus, Danielle designed The Answer to suit the new status quo.

“Don’t give up. And don’t stay the same,” she offers as advice for these tough times.

“Life won’t ‘go back to normal’ and as business owners it’s our job to understand what consumers want and provide that product or service, and the world just flipped on its head so we’ve got to be quick to respond.

“It’s tough right now, but if you can adjust and keep going, we’ll all come out the other side.”

On the road to recovery

If you need more support for your business as restrictions ease, why not join our Business in Brisbane Facebook group to chat with other local business owners.

Need a more one-on-one support? You can book a session with Council’s Business Liaison Officers by emailing the team to hear about Council programs and resources that are available to support your business.

We’ve also set up an Economic Recovery Taskforce to help local business get back on their feet, by helping them get the help they need when they need it. The Taskforce is now gathering feedback from local businesses to develop a strong plan for recovery. To have your say fill in the survey by Friday 12 June.

Our Business Hotline 133 BNE (133 263) is also available 24/7 to answer questions on Council topics including licensing, development, applications, business opportunities and procurement.

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Date posted:
Last updated:22 June 2020