March 28, 2020 Small business

COVID-19: DON’T PANIC – GET PRACTICAL

Things are moving downward for big and small businesses everywhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t panic – get practical. Do everything in your power to adjust to this new, changing situation. Step by step, you need to put your business in the best position you can.

SORT YOUR FINANCES

If you have more than simple cash flow issues, call The National Debt Hotline on 1800 007 007. Rather than trying to find all the options that might apply to you, make a call, state your situation and hear the range of relief and incentives that might apply to you. The National Debt Hotline is a free, not-for-profit confidential service. Check out their COVID-19 financial survival guide.

If your small business has been impacted by the coronavirus and lockdowns, contact your bank bank’s hardship line. This will be a regular process to them at this time. You may wish to postpone payments on mortgages and credit cards if you can. Just be sure to plan for when those repayments will become due again. At that point, you may wish to postpone again. Just ask the questions and get some clarity. Click on this link, and scroll down to find your bank.

Call the ATO if you have any debt or a payment plan currently in place. If possible, defer payments. By making the call, you can make an agreement that may stop interest accruing. Call the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218. The ATO has a regularly updated COVID-19 resource.

You may be finding it difficult to pay your rent due to a downturn in business. There could be a good case for reduced rent or even a freeze on rent until things get back to normal. Make your case clearly and simply with some basic numbers to support why you are unable to pay your regular rent until income flows again. Ask for what you want – don’t second guess what your landlord might accept. Your landlord will probably appreciate having a tenant in place for when things pickup, rather than a vacant space to advertise. There is COVID-19 information for residential and commercial tenants available at the Tenant’s union of NSWVictorian Small Business Commission and Residential Tenant’s Authority.

In the same way, suppliers might be willing to change their payment terms to keep a customer by keeping you trading. Talk to everyone in your supply chain. Discounts and deferred payments can be discussed.

CONNECT

Talk to people, it’s good for your health. For now we can’t get out to communicate in person. That face-to-face contact is important for clear communication and for maintaining relationships. A popular app is Zoom for video conferencing. Sign up to online Meetups in your industry. Check out Meetup’s webinar about hosting your own online event.

It can be hard to be motivated when you’re under pressure. If that is becoming an issue, get particular – get a schedule. Sort out tasks, get them into a logical order and work through them. There will be a feeling of achievement as the list is whittled down.

Now is the time to explore that wrinkly old saying ‘work ON your business not just IN your business’. What would make your working day easier? What would make things more trackable? Findable? Repeatable? There’s generally an app for that. Explore options to suit your setup. Slack is good for internal messaging if you have a partner or team. Airtable and Asana are great for assigning tasks and tracking projects. The Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) is heavily used for collaborating and sharing.

ADAPT

Think more broadly about what you do. Is there something similar, or something different you can do or make to keep money coming in? This could be a temporary move or a change to your business model. Online retail will grow hugely during the coronavirus pandemic and will likely stay in place afterwards. Have you set up a robust system to take orders and payments? Do your deliveries work the way you want them to? If you provide a service, is your booking process smooth for everyone? Now could be the time to make the change to that better system you wished you’d gone with at the start. Keep moving. Keep thinking of ideas and improvements. Stay tuned for our news story about former NEIS clients who have adapted their businesses to weather the storm.

For the latest health information and advice regarding COVID-19, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website, which includes coronavirus resources such as a home isolation and care fact sheet.

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