COVID-19 has impacted businesses in different ways, and many have had to re-imagine or pivot their business to reach new markets and take advantage of new opportunities.
We interviewed an electrician and the owner of a winery to find out how they used the NSW Government’s COVID-19 financial support to shift the way they work.
Find out how they reached new customers and enhanced their businesses while facing the challenges of the pandemic.
COVID-19 support sparks life into border business
When the NSW border with Queensland closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hinterland Electrical Services in Byron Bay lost 70% of its client base.
Owner Eli Glenister said the impact of the restrictions was devastating for the family-operated business he had spent five years building.
“Before COVID hit, 70% of our business was Queensland-based and 30% was in the local Byron Bay area. When border restrictions were enforced, we had to flip those numbers.”
In the middle of further restrictions for the construction industry and a struggling local economy, Eli applied for the 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant and the JobSaver payment to ease cash-flow pressure and give himself time to focus on sales and marketing.
“The application process was seamless and only took me about ten minutes to apply for the Business Grant and JobSaver. When the money came through, it was just awesome! It took so much of the stress and pressure off. It gave me the time to focus on sales, shoring up more local work, and planning for the next six months.
“We also haven’t been doing any marketing or advertising, so the money will be used to advertise in the local area that we’re still here, we survived, and we’re ready to go,” Mr Glenister said.
Eli said the Business Concierge service offered by Service NSW reassured him that he wasn’t in this alone.
“My Business Concierge was proactively getting in contact with me when COVID kicked off to make sure I was okay and to see if I needed any help. I just remember feeling really lucky that someone had my back. That was the nice thing about it,” Mr Glenister said.
Cupitt’s Estate plans for post lockdown future
Following the devastating bushfires in 2019, businesses on the New South Wales South Coast were still rebuilding when COVID-19 travel restrictions once again left them without a steady stream of customers.
Libby Cupitt, the owner of Cupitt’s Estate in Ulladulla, which boasts a boutique winery, craft brewery and artisan fromagerie, found the silver lining in the absence of customers at the family-owned business during this challenging period.
With the support of Service NSW for Business and the NSW Government’s COVID-19 grants, Libby was able to take the time to set her business up for its post-lockdown future.
“The support gave us the opportunity to think about what we really wanted to focus on once lockdown came to an end,” Mrs Cupitt said.
After successfully applying for the Small Business Bushfire Grant in early 2020, with the help of her dedicated Business Concierge, Libby sought further financial assistance through Service NSW for Business to help Cupitt’s Estate navigate the latest COVID-19 challenge.
Libby accessed JobSaver payments and the 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant to keep her staff employed throughout this period and to concentrate on maintenance work for the enormous property, while adding new features to the business in anticipation of customers returning.
“The JobSaver payments and the grant were awesome. We have a lot of operating costs and to have a steady income during this time was a big relief.
“We’re a working farm with a lot of buildings and machinery, so the support helped us to keep the wheels in motion.
“The payments also gave us an opportunity to take some risks and try new things. We’re building a stage for live music on weekends and an outdoor bar to improve that space.
“We could also ensure our kitchen garden was completed, which is essential to our restaurant. We couldn’t have done any of this without the support,” Mrs Cupitt said.