Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing my first article about an Armageddon situation as customers and business alike WORLDWIDE go into meltdown. Yet, here we are!
As customers activate “doomsday prepper” mode, and supermarket shelves are eerily reminiscent of scenes from the Walking Dead, it’s got small business owners scratching their heads about what the future holds for their businesses.
Here are the juicy parts;
1. Be on the information bandwagon
It sounds like a no-brainer but you should be informing your audience on your position with the situation. If you’re in a business that caters for gatherings greater than 100 eg Event Centres, Restaurants, Nightclubs etc, you should be informing customers of your cancellation/refund policies, the safety measures you are undertaking and offering confidence to your customers about what your contingency plan is around rescheduling events and bookings. If you have a database now’s the time to email them with a direct message. It will stop the phone ringing with customers asking the same questions and position you in front of others who haven’t taken this advice.
With information changing and being updated almost daily, you may have to do this more than once – but don’t be afraid, it’s information your customers want to know your position on.
2. Get creative
DIVERSIFY. If your business has the capacity to change things up, do it, do it yesterday. If you’re a restaurant that hasn’t considered takeaway or pick-up before – investigate the platforms out there. It’s another way to generate income and if you can creatively package your product together with a needed service, you’ll be well positioned to deliver something no one else is.
3. Let’s get analytical, analytical!
Now’s the time to review your data! Are your channels paying off? Are you paying hand-over-fist for a solution that’s underperforming? You’ll never know if you don’t review. It’s the job that falls by the wayside nine times out of ten but, if you find yourself with a little time up your sleeve give it a go. If it looks like a mashup of numbers, instead of sense – call a professional, your time could better be spent in the above or below points.
4. Train, train, train
Been meaning to upskill of late? Great, no time like the present! There is a plethora of online courses than can be undertaken by you or your staff – most offered at little to no cost.
Allocate some of this down time to investing in the growth of your own business post this apocalyptic state. You’ll be better for it in the long run and your staff will thank you for shifting their focus to the future, when the present is so uncertain.
5. Government initiatives, the need to knows
With updates happening literally daily, I’ve updated this section a thousand times!
Firstly a $17.6 billion stimulus package of sorts was released – what does this mean for you? Well it’s designed to deliver support for business investment by
- Increasing the instant asset write-off and
- Backing business investment through accelerating depreciation deductions.
It’s also proposed to provide;
- Cash flow assistance by boosting cash flow for employers.
This measure is set to provide up to $25,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses.
It’s further proposed to;
- Support employers trainee’s and apprentices’ by granting eligible employers a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.
And finally a further 1 billion in assistance for severely affected regions.
Trying to find a way to keep your staff?
The JobKeeper Payment was announced and passed in parliament on April 9th, you can apply for it from 20th April and should register your interest prior here, in summary it’s:
- Available to those who are self-employed and do not have employees
- Applicable to businesses whose turnover has reduced or is expected to reduce by 30%
- Is a payment of $1,500 before tax per fortnight to the nominated individual
- The period of payment will run from 30 March 2020 until 27th September 2020 and are made monthly in arrears
- An eligible employee must have been employed at 1 March 2020 (including employees stood down or re-hired), is over 16 years of age and is either a full time, part time or a casual employee (who has worked on a regular basis for longer than 12 months)
- If you operate as a partnership or a trust, only one of the beneficiaries are eligible to receive this payment. Therefore the remaining partners must rely on Centrelink support
- The super rules are complicated, seek professionals on this one.
Can’t pay the rent?
And finally on April 7th, the National Cabinet announced a mandatory commercial tenancy code, which will apply to any applicable business (tenant or landlord) that has applied for the JobKeeper wage subsidy and the business turnover is less than $50 million.
This will give access to applicants by way of rental waivers and deferrals in addition to non-eviction measures.
Waivers will see a tenants lease agreement reduce by the proportion of their loss of business. Therefore if your business has dropped by 50% my understand is that you will be able to apply for a 50% reduction in rent.
Deferrals can be used to put off the rental payment in the short term and then spread the missed months over the remaining lease agreement or 12 months, whichever is longer.
The National Cabinet has given authority to each state and territory to legislate with the details being overseen by binding mediation.
“This preserves the lease, it preserves the relationship, it keeps the tenant in the property,” Scott Morrison said.
If your business can apply for any/all of the above, it’s best you get your head around the intricacies so you can best position your business for the future.
For further information and to review the overview of the $17.6 billon dollar stimulus package and download the brochure, head here: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
For further information and to review the JobKeeper Payment – head to https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-04/Fact_sheet_Info_for_Employers.pdf
6. Other grants
Google has offered $340 million in ad credits, which they say can be used at any time until the end of 2020. They haven’t released the exact specifics on how you apply and say that an active advertiser since the start of 2019 should receive a notification in their Google Ads account. A little bit vague on the details but hey, every little bit helps I guess.
For further information see: https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9803410?hl=en
Facebook has offered $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.
The programme aims to help keep your workforce going, assist with rental and operational costs and help you connect with more customers.
To be eligible you must:
- Have a minimum of 2 and maximum of 50 employees
- Have been in business for over 12 months
- Have experienced challenges from COVID-19
- Be in or near a location where Facebook operates
Please Note: When you list Australia as the location in the below link – you’re asked to register for further information and consent to be contacted by Facebook as they’re, “still working through eligibility details in this area.”
For further information see: https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grant
Banks in Australia have independently put together their own offers to COVID-19 business owners. Some of which include a “payment holiday”, reduced rates, refinancing options and cash flow relief.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, it pays to know your options so you can best position yourself for recovery.
7. Plan for the future!
Do you have more staff than you know what to do with? Get ahead on your marketing plan. This situation won’t last forever and when it does settle down, you shouldn’t be scrambling to get up and running, you should be moving with full steam ahead!
If you can use the time to activate your future marketing plans, get those photos taken, update collateral, investigate that new platform, look for business efficiencies. Once you’ve put in place the plan for the next quarter, look at the next six and twelve months. You won’t regret it.
So I guess, while there are aspects of your business that I’m sure you’re winding down, if you can, don’t close off completely. You could use this time to be dynamic, change your offering and ensure you come out bigger and stronger on the other side.