How to gain new skills during COVID-19
Valuable lessons learnt from TAFE NSW and Westpac’s small business course that helped a lawyer market her business.
While 2020 was a tough year for business owners, it gave many the chance to adapt and grow. According to Westpac’s SME COVID-19 Tracking Report, 44 per cent of SME customers pivoted their businesses during the pandemic, adding new products or services, moving their businesses online or exploring different distribution channels.
For Carol Grimshaw, Owner and Principal Lawyer at Grimshaw Legal, it gave her the chance to explore different ways to market her business, with the help of the TAFE NSW Small Business Growth Series – a 12-week, self-paced course tailored to help those facing ongoing challenges due to COVID-19.
After finding the course online, Ms Grimshaw was keen to explore the opportunity to self-educate. “It was the chance to do some free, small business training in conjunction with TAFE NSW,” says Ms Grimshaw. “I thought they couldn’t possibly choose me, but there’s no harm in putting my hand up. I was over the moon to be proven wrong, especially since I knew the course had to be excellent given it was offered by a bank.”
The course kicked off in March 2021, giving 1000 Westpac customers the same actionable content that Ms Grimshaw had access to when exploring new ways to communicate with her customers and innovate her business.
Here’s what else the course offered successful applicants.
While the course itself is free for those who successfully enrolled, Ms Grimshaw says that many of the modules teach you “cost-effective” ways to reach more customers within your own business. “If you haven’t done any social media marketing before, it really opens up your eyes to what’s possible, as well as teaching you about Electronic Direct Marketing, which you can do yourself, for low or no cost,” she says. “If you’re a business owner like me, who had clients before they had a business, the course might also make you go back and start planning initiatives to help you operate more productively and profitably.”
While you can technically complete the course in 12 weeks, you also have access to the course materials for up to six months if you’re in need of a refresher. This makes the content relevant to those not only doing the course, but also, helps to find ways to integrate learnings into their own businesses. "Being a lawyer, I have to sometimes be in places unexpectedly and that means I can’t attend sessions,” says Ms Grimshaw. “I missed some of the live sessions, which was disappointing but, because the course is online, I was able to go back to them later.”
Successful applicants have access to TAFE NSW industry specialists, via live Q&A check-ins, each month. This gives applicants the opportunity to truly understand the weekly topics, asking for actionable ways to make the modules work for their own businesses, post COVID-19.
The content has been specifically designed to help businesses thrive and survive during, and after, the pandemic. From building customer relationships in a digital world, developing innovation strategies in response to today’s challenges and creating risk management strategies, Ms Grimshaw says it’s made her rethink her own business model. “I started my own firm, Grimshaw Legal, in April 2018 and like many professional service businesses, I tend to rely on clients coming to me when they have a problem.
"I’m looking to change that model, to start actively marketing packages of services to different sectors and businesses."
The next phase of the course is now closed, however you can access learnings, tips and tricks for your business here.
This article is a general overview and should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before acting.