2021 in Review: Stories of Business Resilience

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16.12.2021 Business tips

2021 in Review: Stories of Business Resilience

Meet 4 inspiring merchants who adapted to thrive in 2021. 

It's been a rollercoaster year of devastating lows and inspirational highs, of heartbreaking losses and unexpected gains. Big, small, metro or regional — the pandemic has impacted businesses of all kinds. 

For entrepreneurs just getting their businesses off the ground — developing their product or service, setting up shop, and finding their first customers — the challenges have been even more daunting.

So, how did Zeller merchants weather the storm? Here are four stories of resilience, entrepreneurialism, and community spirit.  

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From a “beer money” side hustle to booming business
Blair Walker — BSL Anvils Australia, Lara

“I started BSL Anvils Australia in mid-2019, because I was a hobbyist blacksmith and bladesmith — and anvils in Australia are insanely expensive. I took my experience, spoke with many more experienced smiths to gain insight, and designed two different anvil styles of my own. Then I had my designs made by a foundry and forging plant. 

At that time, it was really a 'beer money' side hustle. I was still working full-time as a freelancer in film, TV and live entertainment. Then COVID hit, and in the blink of an eye every single job I had lined up was gone. Stressed doesn’t even cover it. And then the anvil orders started rolling in — loads of them. 

Being in lockdown seemed to make a lot of people realise the importance of hobbies, and decide to either start one or upgrade what tools they already had. There were a few bumps along the way — I quickly ran out of room in my garage, and finding a place to store a couple of tonnes’ worth of anvils wasn’t easy. And as more lockdowns were announced, more orders came rolling in fast.

My wife saw I was swamped, so she started automating order emails and teaching herself how to build an app to help me easily calculate freight costs. She now runs the office, working full time on my 'little side hustle'! 

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For a long time, we worked on bank transfer or cash only — but customers were asking about card options and it became clear we needed to look into that. It came down to Zeller and one other business, and it was the fact that Zeller is Australian that made the difference. 

A business that no one thought would do much of anything has turned into full-time work for both of us. I am also incredibly proud of the small part we have played in keeping people sane during these crazy times.” 

A new gourmet market stall for locked-down Melburnians
Natalie Tripodi — Queen’s Harvest, Melbourne

“My family has been selling fresh produce at the Queen Victoria Market for about 50 years. I’m part of the third generation of the family business. When my uncle and dad got involved, the business developed. As a member of the next generation of the family business, I’ve done the same.

Queen’s Harvest is our new baby — it’s our high-end, specialty produce store. Think black garlic, white strawberries, finger limes. My family has always been in fruit and veg, so we thought — why not take it up a notch? 

Myself and my uncle consider ourselves some pretty fancy foodies. We’re constantly researching and keeping an eye out for anything new and upcoming. We love searching for new products and curating new collections — we’re always brainstorming, and thinking about what new and exciting products we can bring to our customers. 

We’ve actually noticed Melburnians have become more adventurous, especially during the lockdowns. People weren’t able to dine out, so they started getting more creative in their own kitchens. I had a customer buy one of everything, simply because they hadn’t tried the products before. The customers’ curiosity and excitement makes us want to constantly do better, and bring them something new and exciting week after week. 

But when our old terminal, provided by one of the big banks, would stop working we’d have to call them and they’d send out a replacement, but we wouldn’t be able to accept card payments until it arrived. Zeller has saved the day — to have a reliable provider has been a game change. It’s just tap, and go.

Queen’s Harvest has already become a one-stop shop for anything unusual, different or quirky. We get everyone from home cooks and amateur chefs, to local restaurant owners, and some big-name celebrity chefs you’ve probably spotted on TV.” 

Using TikTok to bring in new customers
Lizette Mendigorin – Leaf Cafe, Orange

“Since coming out of the last lockdown, business at Leaf Cafe has been going well – especially now that it’s Christmas season. People are coming to the cafe while doing their Christmas shopping, and everyone’s excited. We’re still continuing to adapt to COVID-normal, but there’s a sense that things are slowly getting there.  

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Lockdown was very stressful, mentally. Instead of closing the cafe, we decided to stay open. The staff actually made a plan of who was going to work, when. It was a rotation, so everyone could still earn money. 

It was very quiet for a while, so we started posting on the cafe’s TikTok for a bit of fun and to keep staff motivated. But then we realised it was actually helping bring in new customers, and letting our old customers know we were open. Then, when lockdown ended and things like the Orange Wine Festival could happen again, we had people from Sydney looking us up on Google and making reservations from as early as 6:30am. 

Since business has picked up again, some customers have been wondering why we haven’t raised our coffee prices. Lots of cafes here in Orange put their prices up over lockdown, because the global price of coffee has surged to the highest it’s been in 10 years. Shipping and freight is more expensive, too. It took us two months to decide what to do. We were thinking about adding a surcharge for EFTPOS transactions, or increasing the price – we decided to increase the price. Customers seem to be ok with it, they say it’s value for good coffee and the good service we provide. 

Looking forward, we’re excited to have a new beginning.

Having our freedom. Now, we have a plan for every situation and scenario. This plan helps us to have a sense of power and calmness. Whatever 2022 brings us, we have a plan to help us to deal with it.” 

Pivoting to provide critical COVID-19 services
Matthew Xanthopoulos  — Medical Edge Australia, Melbourne 

Medical Edge Australia is an experienced and proven provider for supporting major and high-risk events across the country through both our first aid, medical and fire suppression services.

When Victoria was impacted by lockdowns, we shifted our focus to support the community by providing a range of different services from providing Rapid Antigen Testing Across States, Supporting government and corporate PCR testing sites, and Quarantine Patient Transport. We have also worked to support the health system as a whole by bolstering Ambulance offloading at hospitals, and additional patient transport services. We have a fantastic team who supports all these sectors and we are very proud of the work they are doing.

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Zeller was able to support us with these focuses by providing an easy to use payment terminal for individuals requiring a Rapid Antigen Test. The service allowed us to take quick easy payments wherever we may be and provide a convenient solution to our customers.

Thank you, Zeller, for supporting us with a prompt setup of the accounts when the time came — as this also had a large impact on the community.”