Greg has an ideaA COVID-19 new business development plan

Now is not the time to take your foot off the pedal. Besides, for most design business owners there’s no option but to push through the pain. The key is to plan short term, mid term and long term goals and strategies; a Covid-19 new business development plan.

Step 1: Survival

We are in the midst of a lot of doom and gloom. Now is the time to show leadership rather than giving in to the pressure.

The graphic below (sourced from The Age newspaper and credited to AMP) shows the industry sectors we can look too for survival.

Impact on Australia’s GDP from COVID-19

60% of industries are forecast to take a negative hit, with only 16% receiving a boost.

Impact on GDP

Boost includes: Communication (2.6%),  Health (8.2%), Public admin (Govt) (5.7%)

Neutral to slight hit includes: Agriculture and Mining (11.7%) Utilities (2.6%)

Medium hit includes: Construction (7.4%), Manufacturing (5.9%), Professional Services (20.4%)

Large hit includes: Rental, Hire, Real Estate (12.1%), Retail, Wholesale (8.3%), Accommodation & Culture (5.3%)

Communications, Health and Public admin (Government) are areas that have received a boost.

Your survival plan involves preparing a list of clients you have worked with in the past 18 months. Use the DBC Client segmentation sheet (download here).

It’s worth the time to fill it out in detail.

Look at clients and ex clients who fall into the Communication, Health or Government sectors.

The government funding for health alone is $2.4B. The communication needs for the recipients have grown exponentially. If you have any clients or ex clients in that sector now is the time to be talking to them.

Write a strategy: Step back and treat your design studio as a client. You have been briefed to help a design business communicate its benefits to a healthcare provider. Write a brief. Think about the besieged health administrators and the myriad of message they are getting. How do you get cut through?

Action: Develop a campaign to put the design services and their benefits to the correct people in the health sector. Set KPIs; number of contacts; key messages communicated; number of Zoom meetings; RFEs; jobs.

Step 2: Recovery

Many predict we will start to see a general recovery in about three months. Now is the time to prepare.

Boosting your profile in specific industries is essential. Look at the industry sectors in which you have some experience and identify where they fit in the graphic above. The degree of ‘hit’ can be read as a a timeline for recovery. If you have clients or ex-clients in the Neutral/slight/medium hit you can predict they will return to ‘normal’ quicker.

Now might be the time to build up some ‘brownie points’ by using your survival-stage downtime to play a long-game. Position yourself as the business that supported the sector in hard times. Insist that anyone who is given pro bono has to take part in a case study the shows ROI. These case studies are fed back into the industry as the recovery starts.

Step 3: Growth

It seems we won’t be able to count on growth until at least the fourth quarter of the next financial year. This is the time that businesses start budgeting for the next financial year. It is a long way out and is totally unpredictable.

What we can safely predict is the human centred design/design thinking band wagon will march on. Businesses offering new or different services in this space will experience growth as clients look to innovate their way out of the slump.

Use your downtime in the survival stage to upskill everyone on the team. Include everyone, even if you stood them down. Set up virtual in-house training to help everyone gain.


Never waste a crisis

We are facing a broken economy – demand for design services will decrease; supply of design services will increase and morph into new forms; and the financial stability of design business will be rocky at best.

What we know is clients will want maximum impact and value. We need to show that each dollar spent will create assets and intellectual property for our clients.

If you want to learn more about how the DBC is helping the Australian design community contact Greg Branson.

Greg Branson

Contact Greg Branson if you would like to learn more about the many programs the DBC offers.

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Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed The Design Business School to help owners manage their business better along with showing designers how to get more involved in the studio and develop their career path. Contact Greg.