A virtual panacea for regional business

regions, regional businesses, virtual

Being in business during a continued roll-out of pandemic-induced restrictions and limitations is challenging to say the least.  The way we work has been impacted in a way none of us had ever imagined.  As a result, the traditional Bricks and Mortar Business Model – the foundation upon which many businesses, large and small, have been built – is now being replaced by a new way of working; that of an online or Virtual Business Model, which is spreading its wings and taking flight.

Regardless of where a business is located, the flow-on effect of the global pandemic will have been felt in some way, shape or form. Whilst regional businesses have had to deal with the fallout just the same as their city counterparts, for many it’s only been compounded by the woes that have come as a result of the impacts of devastating bushfires and floods in recent times. For some, it’s a bridge too far, and they are simply unable to continue.

Businesses who have survived – even thrived – have understood and embraced online technology as a key driving force in creating a consistent business strategy. For regional businesses, the game plan has changed considerably in that their ability to operate online has levelled the playing field and has meant that they now have the world at their virtual fingertips. By utilising a Virtual Business Model, they are no longer bound or constricted by the tyranny of distance. For the first time ever, regional businesses can look beyond their local pool of human resources and retain the services of skilled professionals who work from home and utilise the internet to ply their trade. 

With approximately 97 per cent of all Australian businesses falling into the category of small business, and 25 per cent of those being classed as micro-business (employing one-four people), there is a lot at stake if we are to succeed with our private enterprise endeavours. Our innate instinct is to survive…and those who have come this far have been able to pivot and adopt new practices and strategies to do just that.

As a result, I believe we’re seeing a revolution in the way we work which will remain with us for the foreseeable future.  As a society, we have become used to working from home, and businesses have no doubt realised that there is a huge cost-saving benefit to them as a result of this. 

To meet the change in how we work, we’re seeing technology adapt to support the home-based workforce with tools and apps that are easy to use and which drive productivity, improve connectedness and build team culture.  Contractors, freelancers and virtual assistants who make up the “gig economy” that drives the Virtual Business Model are now seen as a viable option with a huge cost benefit in comparison to hiring full-time or part-time staff, together with the other obvious savings around office space and staff amenities.

Whilst the traditional Bricks and Mortar Business Model still has a place in society, what’s interesting is that the lockdowns and restrictions have changed the habits of a nation that have become accustomed to shopping and doing business online. The flow-on effect is that for the great majority of service and small product-based businesses, a Virtual Business Model is now an accepted way of operating in today’s world. 

For regional businesses, rather than curling up and fading into nothingness, the Virtual Business Model opens up a whole new world with the advantage of being able to compete from a decentralised location whilst still remaining current and cutting edge. I wonder, could this newfound way of trading be the virtual panacea regional businesses have been waiting for?