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Five Ways Businesses can be more flexible and low-risk in 2021

  • Written by Carly

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on many Australian businesses, but plenty more  have used the challenge as an opportunity to recalibrate operations or reinvent their  offering to ensure survival and set themselves up for success. 

With more than 2 million small and medium businesses employing more than 4.8 million  Australians – the equivalent to 44% of the working population – contributing to 57% of the  country’s GDP, Australian small and medium businesses are crucial to our economic and  employment outcomes. 

Chris Noone, CEO of Carly, Australia’s most flexible car subscription service, says the  challenges for small and medium businesses are likely to continue into 2021. “No one  could have predicted COVID-19, and even though Australia has fared better than other  countries, experts forecast a long path back to a ‘new normal’. This means Australian small  and medium businesses need to be on top of their operations and finances to remain as  flexible as possible and ensure they can survive, thrive and grow once again.” 

Here, Chris Noone outlines five ways Australian businesses can lower their risk and  recalibrate to survive the challenges of 2021 and beyond. 

  1. Limit your exposure to risk by reviewing working capital and  expenses  

Ensure any loans, finance and third-party suppliers are competitive and adding value to  your business strategy. If they aren’t, it may be time to look at negotiating a better deal or  seek alternative, more flexible options that will allow your company to work with business  ebbs and flows. For example, Carly is a low-risk alternative to a car purchase, lease or  loan. Under our subscription model, a business can access vehicles on a month-to-month  basis with no lock-in contracts – meaning they can cancel anytime with just 30 days’ 

notice. If a business finds themselves in a position where they need to scale their vehicles  up or down quickly, they can do so with no financial consequences. This level of flexibility  is crucial in times of uncertainty. 

  1. Avoid high-risk customers 

Not all customers are equal – it’s just that simple. Some pose more risk than others, and  when it comes to high-value products you need to have a risk-assessment plan, along with  due-diligence checks, firmly in place. When Airbnb first went to market it quickly learnt  that bookings of more than 10 people can mean a rowdy party as opposed to a family,  which increased the risk of damage and the need for cleaning services. To protect the  property, Airbnb now charges deposits and cleaning fees, which are proportionate to the  property’s size and value. 

At Carly, we developed an identification technology called PeerPass, to protect our cars  and ensure they are returned. Peer Pass validates the identity of the person taking out the  car subscription as well as undertaking a basic credit check. This platform was created to  limit the risk of identity fraud, minimise the possibility of theft, ensure the person taking  out the car subscription is accountable for the use and care of the car, and guarantees that  they have the capacity to make the payments.

High-risk customers impact the performance of your business and bottom line, they can  adversely impact your reputation. Reputation is a key commodity for any business.  A Harvard Business Review study found that reputation is a matter of perception that  leads to various positive effects. Businesses with a great reputation are seen as having  more value, and the industry believes that these companies can deliver sustained earnings,  which is exactly how you want to be perceived during a global pandemic.  

  1. Find new revenue streams to diversify and pinpoint new  opportunities 

While it makes sense in the short term to dedicate all your resources to making sure your  primary source of revenue is in great shape, unforeseen changes in the market or  economy – like COVID-19 – has shown that operating solely under one stream of revenue  can deliver a devastating blow to your business. Diversification of revenue streams is key  to ensuring your business is built on a robust foundation that will not leave you in a  vulnerable position should unforeseen circumstances, like the pandemic, occur. The  automotive industry has been forced to diversify in response to declining car sales in  recent years. Manufacturers have had to find new ways to generate income, such as car servicing, financing and now car subscription. This allows them to utilise floor stock that  has been sitting idle, creating a new and recurring revenue stream that can acquire  customers online and at the dealership.  

  1. Continue to innovate and improve your product to meet customers’  changing needs 

Innovation should be customer-centric, driven by the needs of your customers rather than  the business. A great example of an Australian start-up doing exactly this is Koala.  Founded by Mitchell Taylor and Dany Milham, the online retailer got its start selling  mattresses online. After experiencing initial success filling a gap in the market, they have  continued to thrive by listening to what their customers wanted. They have now expanded  their range to include well-designed, easy-to-access and simple-to-assemble furniture. 

At Carly we are always looking for ways to innovate and improve our product, and our  recent Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Product Ruling is a perfect example of this.  Australians and Australian businesses are looking at ways to increase their flexibility, de risk finances and save on household or business budgets in the wake of COVID-19. Our  ATO Product Ruling ensures Carly subscribers can claim the car subscription payments as  a tax deduction when the subscription is used for business or work purposes This not  only makes our product more appealing to consumers and Australian businesses, it  improves the service we are able to provide and sets a new benchmark for the car  subscription category. 

  1. Track the data, do the research to understand your market 

Businesses today have access to a lot of incoming data. Closely tracking data can bring a  level of certainty and direction to money management but it can also help you to better  understand what’s important to the business and your customer, so you can make better  decisions. Your business will continually evolve, and that can change how you connect with  customers – and even the type of customer you are connecting with. Having a good 

handle on your business’s data and analytics can help you to navigate those changes and  better predict consumer behaviour, identify market trends and determine the return on  investment on your marketing efforts.  

However, always remember that your internal data is often the most valuable when it is  supported by independent consumer research. For example, Omnipoll Surveys (a  consumer research tool), are a great way to validate the stories your internal data is telling  you, as well uncover target markets that you may not have previously prioritised. Carly  recently commissioned a research piece that identified that 38% of Australians, and 69% of  Gen Zs, would consider car subscription for their next vehicle. Gen Z's high propensity to  want to try car subscription was a good indicator for us that our product resonates  strongly with digital natives and people who are familiar and comfortable with the  subscription business model.  

Taking a flexible approach to business and being prepared for more twists and turns is  crucial in this post-pandemic world. The businesses that can adapt and embrace  uncertainty are sure to lead the way, whatever their size.

To find out more about Carly Car Subscription visit

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