Glen Smethurst, from Van Isle Paint, shares tips to help local businesses guide their teams through the pandemic. Photo by Julia Marie Loglisci Photography,

Strategies for Victoria small business survival

Local entrepreneur adapts to global economic challenges, and shares his revelations

Glen Smethurst has never managed a business during a global pandemic, but as Managing Director of Van Isle Paint he’s been working hard to find success on the fly while his team adapts.

“It’s not just about business, it’s about keeping operations running for our employees. I need to be at my personal best to help ensure our success,” he says.

An early start helps Smethurst stay focused, making sure his business survives and his employees are taken care of. “It’s an eerie time and it’s easy to start drifting, succumbing to the fear and anxiety. There are mornings where I can feel that stress like an after-burner, blowing me back into bed, but I need to step-up.”

“Every micro move matters. I’m aiming to utilize every second of my day,” Smethurst says, but it’s important to make goals achievable. For personal fitness he admits to a bad habit of overdoing his workout and falling off the routine. In fitness and in business, gradual success is better. “Now’s not the time to overcomplicate, we’re studying our markets and focusing on what we know.”

Expect your plans to fall apart and stay motivated to rebuild. Smethurst has combed through his business and eliminated expenses wherever possible. “Most luxuries we can’t afford right now. I’m looking at every penny spent realizing the opportunities we had to strengthen our operations.”

Smethurst isn’t a fan of the clichés like ‘it starts from the top’ but admits the phrase has rung true these days. “I’ve learned to understand how my every move affects our employees. If I’m healthy, positive, and focused, it rolls through the company.”

His business has made strategic investments in technology and training to help adapt. “If we can improve our response times by covering employee technology costs, if it’s more strategic for someone to work from home, if tech training will help someone transition, those investments are worth it,” Smethurst says.

Through leadership and communication, Smethurst has encouraged Van Isle Paint employees to get creative and contribute to the company’s collective success. “We’ve been able to generate hours for our employees and improve our output by remaining mentally and physically ready.” Smethurst says.

FURTHER READING: Adapting your business to the new normal

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