It goes without saying, but the novel COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge companies Australia-wide and internationally. It’s likely the effects will be felt for a long time. Just how long is uncertain but what’s clear is businesses, and start ups particularly, are feeling the burn more than ever. We took an engineering solutions approach to beat the COVID-19 odds stacked against us.

Even before COVID-19, it was tough for businesses to stay up and running.

The Australian Government’s report on small business counts from July 2019 revealed the survival rates of Australian businesses. It showed that an average of 64.5% of businesses active in 2014 survived to 2018.

The flip side of this is that 35.5% failed. That’s more than one in three businesses. Smaller businesses were the most likely to fail.

Throw in COVID-19 and, while it remains to be seen what the ultimate impact will be, one needs only look at the latest news to find troves on troves of stories about struggling start-ups and businesses going under, shutting doors due to the economic impact of the pandemic. 

You don’t have to be an expert to know that business survival rates have likely decreased. This is especially so for small start-ups who are already among the most vulnerable.

Having launched less than two years ago in July 2018, the odds were stacked against us. So how did COREMATIC manage to defeat the virus and come out on top?

We worked hard to be lean from day one

our start up beat covid with an engineering solutions approach

Our vision was to keep COREMATIC fit and in shape. We used an engineering solutions approach to develop processes from the beginning that would make our expenses as lean as possible. 

Part of lean expenses involved avoiding unnecessary overheads such as merchandising and office costs. Co-founder Jonathan Legault brought a key lesson taught to him by his grandfather. If you earn $100, spend $70 and save $30.

This simple mantra of not spending more than you earnt, meant that even in the short time we’ve been around, we’ve been able to save a healthy amount for life’s surprises.

Investing in our growth and development was a top priority

At COREMATIC, we recognised it was important to save up to invest in our business with our own resources. Not just through external investors.

We did this well, and our resultant savings gave us additional ‘breathing room’ to weather the economic impact of COVID-19 and adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Fortunately, we haven’t had to draw on these savings yet thanks to our existing pipeline of work, which has enabled us to keep all employees on—putting us in a strong position moving through these unprecedented times.

We faced challenges and found solutions

Responsiveness was key. 

Too many businesses were slow to respond to the problems posed by the global pandemic or didn’t have saved funds to adapt to life’s surprises, whereas many of those that reacted quickly or which had valuable reserves have been able to ride the wave without wiping out. 

Still, to ride the wave you need something to surf on, and thanks to our careful business planning since we started COREMATIC, we had just that­—a forward-booked schedule of projects and, if we needed it, enough savings to keep us going for at least three months while meeting all existing expenses and pressing on with all in-progress investments.

We were aided in this by already having remote working policies in place, when meant we didn’t have to adapt to working from home and could instead focus on delivering AAA quality services and products—while a parachute for our business meant we didn’t panic.

We were able to prioritise our resources and bootstrap smartly

Through good management, we’ve been able to see through all our commitments without freezing any. 

When COVID-19 hit, many companies simply froze existing investments due to economic uncertainty and often as a panicked, knee-jerk reaction. 

At COREMATIC, we instead decided to honour all existing investments to their completion. Rather than making new spending on 3D printing face shields like many, we maintained our current spending with our partners—this was our way to help the economy and keep others in their jobs.

It’s about bootstrapping safely, and not just cutting costs with wild abandon in the hope of seeing the COVID-19 pandemic through to its end—which it will.

If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that after a recession or economic crisis there’s a bounce back. At some point things get better, and COREMATIC will still be here to see you on the other side—as lean and flexible as ever, and rearing to get cracking with plenty of big ideas for the future of tech, AI and cutting-edge engineering solutions.