‘Build your tribe’: Entrepreneur guru shares top tips
WITH the spectre of more lockdowns ever-present, what can we learn from the first lockdown to make businesses more resilient if our worst fears are realised?
Entrepreneurship facilitator and Alt-Collective head Courtney Tune spent much of the first lockdown liaising with more than 120 businesses in an effort to help them adapt to the unprecedented situation.
Discussing what he learned during the crazy times, Mr Tune has a few tips for businesses trying to get on the front foot.
Building your tribe
“We always talk about building your tribe – those core customers that really follow your business,” he said.
“And through covid that’s where they really relied on their tribe to support them.
“The community wanted to support those businesses that were forced to go through restrictions.”
The more businesses were able to build a relationship with their customer base the more likely that support would be sustained during the tough periods.
It was reflected often by business owners who had managed to avert disaster – there was a renewed community desire to support local businesses.
Maintaining a database
Being able to reach your customer base directly was something Mr Tune identified as critical, and he said that went beyond using social media.
“During covid social media was so busy. People were shifting online and trying to reach their audience through social media which works to a certain extent,” he said.
“But (for) those businesses with a really good clientele database – whether it was an email database or mobile phone database, just some way they could reach out directly to their consumers – that was really valuable.”
An example was collecting email addresses via a website and encouraging people to sign up to newsletters, anything that allowed a direct communication between a business and customer.
Keep a positive business mindset
Mr Tune emphasised the importance of having a positive business mindset and interacting with positive people.
“Business mindset is a huge thing, quite often I think what your product is offering is one thing but having a business mindset is often the differentiating factor,” he said.
“It can be hard in things like covid but if you surround yourself with good people it is easier to maintain that good positive mindset.”
Keeping a positive business mindset opened up possibilities, and maintaining contact with other positive people can create an environment conducive to new ideas.
Build on those new ideas
Businesses across the region changed the way they operated during the lockdowns, with the hospitality sector leading the way. Many introduced takeaway and home-delivery options.
Mr Tune said while this may have reduced as restrictions were lifted, the important thing was mechanisms were now in place to pivot if the need arose.
“Now that restrictions have lifted they have shifted back to that more traditional model but they have those things in place so they can move back and forth if they need to as those restrictions change,” he said.
“(Businesses) kept their core focus and introduced new initiatives to make them more resilient.”
Ask for help
No business has to do this alone and Mr Tune said while they were in a position to assist, the first step had to be asking for help.
“I think it’s an Aussie thing – sometimes people can be a bit reluctant to ask for help.
“You can’t force someone to ask for help. You can put yourself out there and say were here we are free we are able to provide support, but they need to take the action to reach out.”
Like so many businesses Alt Collective came to assist, they too pivoted to make the most of the tough situation. Seeing the vast need in the community, the organisation expanded from catering solely to new start ups and fledgling businesses.
“As soon as covid hit we reached out to the Department of Employment Skills and Education and asked if we could pivot and work with more established businesses, especially those who had shut down.”
Clarence Valley Council recognised the value in getting on the front foot during the lockdowns too, engaging Alt-Collective to approach local businesses and help them navigate through the uncertainty.
For more information visit altcollective.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org.