The December COVID-19 spike, Northern Beaches lock downs and health-related mandates around compulsory mask wearing are now in the rear-vision mirror. Each served as stark reminders of how quickly things change and the speed at which such spikes can impact businesses. For example, during the week of the pre-Christmas lockdown one CBD-based retailer advised that trade was down some 60% on expectations.
Another, a Café operator, advised that business had been back up to between 70% to 100% during mid-December but crashed to around 10% to 15% during the third (COVID-spike) week depending on the day. For these businesses foot traffic and trade is extremely sensitive to announcements about what's happening in the broader community.
So, with a new year upon us, where are the opportunities to do things differently and move forward.
Collaboration is Key
Back in the beginning of the pandemic, the concept of a new face of collaboration was discussed.
In an earlier article it was suggested that complexity generally drives the need to collaborate. However, today's market adds other even more obvious reasons for its consideration.
Not long after the pandemic hit, the CBD Sydney Chamber and BiziNet Group decided to work in partnership to present new ways to connect once face-to-face networking was extinguished due to the health risks.
Since April 2020, these independent organisations have jointly presented over 28 online Virtual Expert Speaking & Networking and the Business Formula events. This has seen over 500 individuals participate, guest expert presenters from local government, e-tailers, insolvency and accounting practices, economists, business associations, IT security, 3PL logistics, yoga and relaxation experts and more. These events have deliberately presented both conversation-generating and networking opportunities. Where participants are given the opportunity to introduce themselves, their businesses and set up further conversations beyond these sessions. Relationships have flourished and business opportunities developed.
These are set to continue into 2021 and be complemented by face-to-face networking within the boundaries set by the health authorities.
But collaboration can't stop here. Continually changing times require further innovation.
Collaboration within areas of specialisation
Discussion with our Members suggested that conversations might be more productive when those in the room all talk the same language.
2020 was the testing phase for inviting small groups of businesses which work within similar industry areas, to look at how they could extend their existing individual networks, share knowledge and explore business opportunities. These roundtables are by invitation to Members-Only (or for those that wish to become Members) and generally limited to between 10 to 15 participants.
2021 will see increased visibility for these roundtable groups in areas of speciality which include Allied Health, Professional Financial Services, Real Estate & Property and IT & Tech Services. These groups are looking for opportunities and will measure their success accordingly. And the CBD Sydney Chamber will support them.
Collaboration with overseas partners
Part of a Chamber's role is to connect businesses. Then it makes sense to extend these connections to groups which are willing to share experiences and potentially develop relationships.
The CBD Sydney Chamber in partnership with BiziNet Group have reached out to international Chambers of Commerce within both Asia and Europe that support similarly sized businesses and are no doubt experiencing similar business challenges associated with the pandemic. Can we share these and build relationships of value? Time will tell, but we will make the effort.
Collaboration with other Chambers of Commerce
This is yet another opportunity to extend networks within networks.
A number of local Chambers of Commerce that will be approached to extend these conversations across a larger audience. And why not? Each have Members with experiences and capabilities to share and collectively are looking to build back better. Whether this involves virtual or face-to-face opportunities, it represents more rather than less.
Move Forward with Support
Business owners have faced almost unparalleled challenges over the last year. Some have fared reasonably while unfortunately others, especially those in areas including tourism, events and hospitality, face newly emerging challenges on a week to week basis.
What is clear is that collaboration in all it's different guises can present opportunities to move forward.
The CBD Sydney Chamber is here to support business and grow that potential.
Chamber Membership Counts. Be A Member
The CBD Sydney Chamber connects, engages and supports businesses and people in business to achieve the best possible outcome - whatever the business conditions.
The Chamber provides access to clear information, business support services, training and upskilling opportunities for business owners and their teams, the roundtable specialist series and the Women in Business Network, the Chamber can be a valuable support in moving through the current economic challenges.
That's why Membership Counts.