Lessons for SMEs on revamping your business model during tough times

The events of the past year have ushered in big changes for Australian SMEs, with many having to pivot quickly to adapt to the changing times.

As an owner of a small Pilates business, an agile approach has been paramount to the shifting direction of our business model.

When the pandemic hit and lockdown ensued, it was a huge deal for the company, as we were forced to close all three of our Pilates studios. However, my business partner and I soon realised that the demand for our classes wasn’t slowing, as people sought to continue workouts at home.

We made it our priority to understand exactly what the needs of our customers were and realised that they still wanted to take our classes, but virtually. Through these insights, we made the decision to invest in pivoting our business to an “online-centric” model, to accommodate the changing needs and behaviours of our key audience.

With the demand for Pilates increasing during lockdown, we very quickly revamped our online offering from a single purchase offering to an always-on subscription model, catering to the demand by providing unlimited digital classes to our customers. As a result of reinventing the way customers could access our services, revenue has increased by more than half, and more than doubled compared to last year.

It isn’t easy to make big changes during times of uncertainty, but there are a few key things I believe helped us navigate it well. Here, I want to share my learnings from the past six months on revamping a business successfully, during a challenging climate.

Know your customer

This one is crucial! As a small business owner, the most important thing is to know your audience. When lockdown hit, we had a solid understanding of who our customers were and what they wanted. This meant that we were quickly able to define what our digital offering should be, based on the needs of our customer base.

We knew that there was a demand for easy ways to get fit at home without losing the feeling of being at a class, and that spearheaded our decision to change the way we offered our services online, and then informed the format in which we developed out our refreshed content offering.

Don’t be afraid of change

When the pandemic hit, the prospect of closing our studios – and main sources of revenue(!) – was incredibly daunting. However, we knew that big changes were abreast and that innovation was needed. Our bold approach to revamping our digital offering was scary, but we knew we had to pivot quickly. Don’t be afraid to change things and make bold moves – they often pay off!

Keep up to date with industry trends

Finally, I would recommend that whatever industry your SME is in, to keep on top of the trends within your field.

For us, we are predicting there will be a shift in health and wellness businesses offering digital options for customers to incorporate into a training routine and fitness apps will continue to gain popularity. Our clients are increasingly seeking a hybrid model, as people look to buy blocks of classes at our studios while also training online, due to the convenience. With this intel in mind, we’re already planning the next stage of our business model growth.

My advice is don’t forget how important is to be across the trends gaining momentum. Staying relevant and ahead of the curve during times of big change is – in my opinion – priceless.

Tori Clapham, Founder, Peaches Pilates