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From haunted houses to ‘destination venues’: How small businesses succeeded in 2019, and what they expect in 2020

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Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the Australian economy. From small retailers and tech entrepreneurs to sustainable farmers and artists, Australia boasts 2.1 million of the brightest, dynamic and most innovative small businesses.

The turn of the year is a significant time for any small business as it’s a chance to reflect on the year that was, and to look ahead to new opportunities that could arise with the dawn of 2020. GoDaddy has helped to power the growth of many Australian small businesses and reached out to find out what shaped their 2019, and what are their aspirations, challenges and predictions for 2020. 

Dean Slakas, CEO, The Party People

2019

“The retail industry we operate within is changing rapidly. While online retail is driving much of the growth in the sector, experiential retail and pop-up stores were key trends that bridged the online/offline experience and defined the retail sector for us in 2019.

“For example, Halloween is really growing in Australia – and competition is increasing – so we decided to be really innovative with our strategy. We devised a new retail concept never before seen in Australia and it paid off for us. We created a 3,000sqm Halloween pop-up store complete with a magic mirror for people to try on their costumes, and a haunted house built right inside the store.

“This was supported online with our website featuring special promotions around the day. The whole initiative really paid off for us, adding about 20% in revenue to our business!”

2020

“We have big plans for 2020, and they stem from the success of our pop-up trial. Ideally, we would like to open another party store and two additional pop-up stores this year. We are planning to grow at a time when other retailers are scaling back their physical operations.

They’re focusing solely on their e-commerce strategy, but we want to focus on both. So, alongside our website – which actually saw our business quadruple it’s revenue – we want to build our bricks-and-mortar presence. In a period when many retailers are turning their back on the high street, it’s an opportunity for us to stand out.

“Through this dual strategy, we’re aiming to achieve a really healthy cash flow. Our business is extremely seasonal, and we have a large fluctuation in our finances between our key season, which is now, and our slow season in July. By really attacking this festive period, where the demand for our products and services are high, we can safeguard ourselves when our business has its natural quiet spell.”

Nerissa Jayasingha, Co-Founder, Lankan Tucker

2019

“‘Never stop evolving’, is an ideology we place a lot of importance on. To stay ahead of the pack, we need to constantly evolve our business to keep it fresh…otherwise, you can quickly get left behind.

“We’ve introduced Sri Lankan breakfast and lunch options to the Melbourne brunch scene as well as boosting our presence online to make it easy for people looking to discover new dining experiences. As a result, our client base has grown considerably, and we’re now considered a ‘destination cafe’ with people travelling from all over Melbourne to be part of what we’re doing.” 

2020

“Our goal in 2020 is simple: we want to have lines of hungry customers stretching out the door! But to do so, we’re going to need to involve even more people in our journey. That means being active online as well as in our local community.

“Word-of-mouth is a strong marketing tool in our industry, and is where a lot of our patrons hear of us, but we know, for our line to grow, we need to utilise the power of a website and social media so more people can discover us when they are searching for new dining experiences.

“A New Year is always exciting, and we can’t wait to continue our physical and digital evolution in 2020. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and we want to share that journey with people.”

Edison Li, Founder, Urban Lupe

2019

“If I could sum up 2019 in only a couple of words, I would say unstable and unpredictable. However, I view challenges as opportunities, so with this unpredictability has come tremendous growth potential – particularly in how we reach and service our customers.

“In 2019 we made two changes that had a profound impact on the business in terms of sales. Firstly, relocating the business to a new location with more footfall and a customer-base that was more suitable to our business. And secondly, our online presence with GoDaddy has complemented our retail store. Changing location was a risk – as you never know how it will be received – however, both have delivered a strong return to our business and allowed us to reach a wider audience.

“There’s still a lot of hard work to be done, but I like to make things happen in a positive way, and find fun in every challenge.”

2020

“I hope more people will realise the importance of “buy less but buy better” in 2020. It’s an important mantra for small businesses – who take pride in providing a better, more personalised product or service. For Urban Lupe, I want to continue to grow and take my products, which I truly believe in, to more customers in 2020.

“My new location will help me to achieve that on a local scale, and having an online presence will help me reach more people on a broader scale. It’s a tough market, but being active both locally and online will, hopefully, help me thrive!”

Jill Schoolenberg, Regional President for Australia, Canada and Latin America at GoDaddy

2019

“Small businesses are the innovative and inspiring entities that bind local communities and high streets across Australia. By displaying many of the characteristics imperative in business – resilience, creativity and innovation – to overcome roadblocks and challenges, we have observed that many Australian small businesses have not only survived, but thrived in 2019.

“In particular, the way many within the sector have integrated digital solutions into their marketing has been particularly impressive and demonstrates a willingness to evolve and remain at the cutting-edge of what they do. We’re proud to be supporting the small business and the entrepreneurial community in Australia – including the likes of Urban Lupe, Lankan Tucker and The Party People – and are excited to see what they can achieve in 2020!”      

2020

“Of the innovative local businesses that succeeded in 2019, many did so by embracing the power of having an online presence. Yet, GoDaddy research shows that 59% of Australian small businesses survey still do not have a website.

“There seems to be a healthy appetite when it comes to consumers shopping and interacting with businesses online. So, if your small business does not yet have a website, 2020 may be the right time for Australian small business owners and entrepreneurs to get started and create an online presence for their venture.”

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