Surviving COVID

Supporting local businesses to find a way forward

How can your business thrive amidst a global pandemic?

When Covid-19 first hit in March 2020, the sense of panic and confusion was huge. Our lives as we knew them were up in the air and everything felt uncertain. For business owners, this worry and stress were compounded, because not only did they have to worry about the safety of their families, but they had their livelihoods – and those of all their employees – to think about too.

As a registered supplier to the NZTE (New Zealand Trade and Enterprise) Regional Business Partners Scheme, Level was well-positioned to jump on board and provide support and advice to businesses affected by Covid. Initially, marketing wasn’t included as a critical support service, but it quickly became apparent that this was a key concern for business owners: “How can I still reach my customers?”; “How can I still maintain brand awareness during a lockdown?”; “How can I improve my systems so that I’m better prepared should this ever happen again?”

We began lockdown – like all other business owners – wondering if we’d have a business in 12 months’ time, but by the end of day three the phone calls and emails started, and they didn’t stop for weeks.

We had the privilege of working with dozens of local businesses during lockdown – all Northland based and spread from Kaitaia to Waipu. We worked with rental car companies, jewellers, gallery owners, childcare centres, travel companies, motels, tourism providers, cosmetic companies and food manufacturers. And the concerns were often the same: “I don’t know how to keep talking to my customers”; “I don’t know what systems or channels I should be using”; “I don’t know how to develop new products or services to meet this new environment or pivot my business to reflect what is happening” and from everyone, “I don’t know if I will survive Covid-19.”

We worked hard to really delve into each individual business, to analyse their assets and their potential, so we could provide solutions as to how they could evolve and adapt to meet the needs of Alert Level 4, then Levels 3, 2 and 1. These conversations often felt like counselling as much as consulting or training, but they gave us an incredible insight into the strength, resilience and courage of local SMEs. We were amazed how willing clients were to learn about aspects of their business that they never had before – online sales, Google My Business, Adwords, Facebook and Instagram, developing audience messaging and setting up new channels – they all rolled up their sleeves and jumped on in. We were really proud to help out dozens of businesses at what would have been a low point for many. And we’re delighted to see they are all still thriving.