People key to crisis survival – what we learnt from the 2020 Fast Movers

Kishen Vijayadass, Partner, Business Services |

17 June 2020

When we reflect on 2020 as a business community, I wonder what will stand out in the long term? For many of us, the past few months have brought about more change than the sum total over our lifetimes.

For me, it has been devastating to see many in our community lose income, suppliers, staff and in some cases, their entire business.

It has also been truly remarkable to see the swell of support from the broader community – a renewed focus on buying local products and services and helping our fellow South Australians make it through.

Needless to say, Fast Movers has been a very different competition this year. What is usually a very social, busy calendar of events has become an exercise in finding ways to celebrate together, remotely.

What has remained this year, and indeed only strengthened, is the feeling of goodwill and community that this competition engenders.

As businesses from various industries and regions come together to gauge their growth against one another, they also celebrate each other’s successes and in some cases, those of their competitors.

Fast Movers is not a race to the top at the cost of all others, it is a collective push to be the best that we can – to learn from what others do well, share our business experience and to build on the unique qualities of our state.

Those at the pointy end of the 2020 competition, our Top 25, have told us that despite current circumstances, they are still expecting to see growth in revenue, profit and staff numbers over the next 12 months.

It seems they share a resilience and optimism that has also been on display in the broader South Australian community during this challenging time, which is great news for us all.

Economic recovery will depend, to a large degree, on a business community with the confidence and the capacity to pick up and move forward.

Our Top 25 have also shared their strategies for adapting to the challenges presented by this time – with many able to quickly move to online models of work and service delivery, shuffle staff responsibilities, source new revenue streams, or simply move to establish a firm plan for making it to the ‘other side’.

Some already had those plans in process: “Our industry has been considerably affected by the recent situation and our sales have dropped by two-thirds, so our management team worked through ideas to regain some control over revenue. We considered the plans we had in place for future growth and quickly implemented some of the strategies that were already on our road map.”

While others took a holistic, adaptive approach:­

“As the Covid19 pandemic unfolded we observed many challenging impacts placed upon the business community. We viewed this through a glass-half-full approach and pragmatically strategized as to how we could leverage our skills to add value and support in any way possible for our clients and community.” 

Many have spoken about their teams – how it is the people in their organisations and not necessarily the systems or processes that have been the true revelation. As one finalist put it:

“I have been impressed by how our team has risen above the challenges we have all faced. Everyone has been working well together and supporting each other during this time. The COVID-19 crisis seems to have revealed what we are capable of, and brought us closer together…”

I find it fitting that at a time like this, in a place like South Australia, it is the value of our human resources that have come to the fore. In a crisis that threatens us as humans, it is our very humanity that will see us through.

Perhaps, this will be the stand-out memory in our reflections on this time?

People, after all, do business with people. Fast Movers celebrates this each year and we hope now more than ever, you will join us in doing so.