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SME success strategies in the wake of a pandemic
22 March 2021 | Minutes to read: 3

SME success strategies in the wake of a pandemic

By Scott Harrington

This article was first published by Inside Small Business on March 21.

As Australia recovers from the economic fallout of the pandemic, Scott Harrington, Director, Business Advisory at William Buck, considers ways to protect your business from the impacts of another downturn and set the scene for success in 2021.


The key to success will be to remain agile and adaptive.

This is especially true in a year that’s already been marred by sporadic outbreaks and lockdowns.

Agility will set your business up to respond rapidly and flexibly to changes, including announcements of snap lockdowns – like the “billion-dollar lockdown” we saw in Melbourne this February.

Last year, we saw many organisations move to remote working with little notice. While most of our clients did well in the face of this adversity, those that really exceled had a few things in common:

  • A business model that could adapt to the change
  • Strategic thinkers who could understand how to continue to service their customers given the changed environment
  • Collaborative technology in programs such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, with a workforce trained to use them, and
  • Business continuity procedures.


Innovation will remain critical to success as businesses that succeed will seek to stand out from their competitors.

Last year saw many businesses pivot to products and services needed in response to the pandemic, products that were in demand, or that better suited supply chain limitations.

Some of these organisations want to keep capitalising on their new-found success and innovate further. Others should recognise the importance of innovating, especially given the speed at which digitisation sped up over the course of COVID-19.

Consider whether the Research and Development Tax Incentive is something your organisation can benefit from. A recent increase in the R&D exposure threshold from $100 to $150 million per annum means those businesses that up the intensity of their R&D are the biggest winners.


It might sound obvious, but planning and setting your desired goals is also vital. This could mean a tweak or a complete revamp of your current plan.

At William Buck, we ask our clients to consider what’s worked for their business in 2020 then distinguish between what was temporary and needed for survival, and what will continue to produce results into the future.

It’s advisable to develop a people strategy this year, if relevant. A volatile 2020 resulted in new remote working procedures, employee wellbeing programs, and for many, a reduction in hours and pay. Consider how you can prioritise your people, ensure their wellbeing and position your business for success.

Digital readiness

Technology played a major role in business continuity last year, and newly adopted technologies will have a long-lasting impact.

Contactless payments, improved work collaboration tools, telehealth tech and IoT devices are just some of the tech trends that saw increased adoption.

Not only will these continue to boost efficiencies post-pandemic, their preservation will improve the readiness of business in the event of another lockdown or economic crisis.

Social media has also had a significant impact on customer behaviour. With a few Facebook posts and some COVID press, you can drive people straight to the supermarkets– take Toilet paper-gate for example!

Government incentives and stimulus

With the demise of JobKeeper, it’s time to look at the remaining incentives if you’re still in a less than ideal position.

The Federal Government’s business website www.business.gov.au, is a good place to start, with many links to Federal and State Government support measures.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of measures, it’s certainly a start. For more information on any of the above, contact your local William Buck advisor.

SME success strategies in the wake of a pandemic

Scott Harrington

Scott is a Director in our Business Advisory division with over 25 years' experience providing strategic advice to private businesses and their stakeholders. He specialises in business and group structures, tax planning and compliance, strategic planning and succession planning. Scott also works closely with international companies seeking to establish a presence in Australia, assisting them to navigate through structuring and set-up while ensuring they understand and meet all of their Australian obligations.

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