COVID-19: Australian Business Survival Guide

Article by
Philip Martin
PMCA
September 2020

Practical advice on keeping your business strong

6 minutes

During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are facing new and unpredictable challenges.
This is the first in a series of articles about how small and medium-sized businesses in Australia can best confront these challenges.

These articles offer practical advice on business improvements that will speed up your recovery.

It’s an unhappy fact that many businesses will not re-open, despite the best efforts of their owners. If you’re concerned that your business might be one of these, you should act quickly and seek advice. We can offer you support to help minimise any damage to your personal finances.

That said, most businesses have the chance to emerge from COVID-19 stronger than ever. But it won’t happen unless you act.

Here are 7 things you can do today to set your business up for survival and success.

 

Access business assistance during COVID-19

Our economy is driven by small and medium businesses. The far-reaching JobKeeper program has meant that many businesses affected by the COVID shutdowns have been able to retain their staff even if there is little or no work to be done.

The government is also offering 100% cashback on PAYG withholding for the first 6 months of 2020 – up to $100,000 in total – as well as guaranteeing some new loans written by banks and SME lenders – a move designed to support new short-term unsecured loans.

Of course, loans always need to be repayed, but as a survival strategy it’s welcome news to many Australian businesses. At almost$190 billion, the support packages are worth a whopping 10% of the value of the entire Australian economy.

If you haven’t already, your very next step is to talk to us at PMCA to make sure you’re getting the assistance you’re entitled to.

Understand your business

No matter whether your business has ground to a halt or is still steaming ahead, the post-COVID landscape for Australian small business is going to be dramatically different. So it’s more essential than ever to fully understand your business’s position in the market.

If COVID-19 has made an impact, start by assessing the scale of that impact. How has your business changed? Look at cashflow broadly, including rent, tax, wages and other fixed costs, payments to suppliers … everything. Your ability to survive, pay debts, keep staff and service your costs all rely on your financial health.

Then there’s the view of your business that doesn’t live on a balance sheet: customers and competitors, the strength of your market or industry, supply chains and even your products or services.

Is everything hunky-dory, or could your business use a bit of care and attention?

Focus on cashflow

For many SMEs, revenue is down. And eventually, government stimulus will stop. With this knowledge, what can we do now to survive in the short term and prosper in the longer term?

JobKeeper and the SME Guarantee Scheme are a good start in terms of maintaining some cashflow, but there’s more you can do to reduce outgoings.

First, start by talking to businesses you need to make payments to. Everyone understands the dramatic impact of COVID-19; you might be able to to renegotiate payment terms with suppliers, landlords, banks and even the Australian Tax Office.

These groups all have a vested interest in your survival and future strength. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

“Returning to normal” is missing the point

Speaking at the National Press Club in late July, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell said “A tailored financial plan is critical for small businesses to survive, grow and employ.”

Ms Carnell went on to stress that the very time when businesses can least afford professional help to properly plan is exactly the time they need that help the most.

In planning for the post-COVID future, we should resist the easy temptation of simply ‘snapping back’ to the way things were. We’re going to emerge into a different economic landscape: buying behaviour may change, the importance of technology will increase, and you might even have fewer (but far more aggressive) competitors. How will your business respond?

Now is exactly the right time to challenge your assumptions and think creatively about the best way to serve your customers. Imagine what ‘better’ might look like for your business. Redesigning a business to survive tough times and prosper will pay handsomely in the long run.

 

Harness technology

Depending on your business’s size, age and industry, your exposure to technology might involve full-scale, integrated enterprise logistics,

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. We’re happy to help

The material and contents provided in this publication are informative in nature only.  It is not intended to be advice and you should not act specifically on the basis of this information alone.  If expert assistance is required, professional advice should be obtained. We are here to help, contact us today:

Philip Martin Chartered Accountant
Phone 1300 744 547 | Web pmca.com.au | Email philip@pmca.com.au
Level 9, 440 Collins Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000

stock control, production, accounts and customer databases, or it might just be Gmail, Word and Excel.

If you’re like most business operators, changing and improving underlying systems and processes is one of those annoying tasks that is easier ignored.

Resist settling for the status-quo. Tech-based business tools are becoming easier to use and more useful. There are probably tasks that you currently do manually that can be automated. There are automated tasks that can be integrated into related processes. And there are possibly entire processes that can be engineered to run without you needing to lift a finger.

Some quick wins are within easy reach, such as embracing cloud-based platforms, buying in functions ‘as-a-service’, improving data security and automating tasks.

 

Embrace a new management dynamic

While some small business owners have always worked from home, lockdowns and social distancing rules now mean that 32% of the population – 4.3 million people – are now working from home (Roy Morgan, June 2020). If you’re a white-collar worker, that figure is much higher, approaching 60% in some industries.

This shift has led to a sudden and dramatic change in the dynamic between co-workers, and between employees and their managers. Only some organisations are dealing with this well.

While many managers and supervisors enjoy the surety of ‘line-of-sight’ management, amore successful approach is emerging, based on output mixed with a healthy dose of trust. While maintaining working relationships and instilling organisational culture are certainly more difficult with a dispersed workforce, there’s evidence to say that productivity is actually enhanced with remote teams.

If you’re a business owner managing people working from home, set expectations, check in occasionally, and understand that when work and life collide in the home, flexibility, generosity and understanding will go a long way to ensuring you have motivated employees.

 

Communicate with stakeholders and customers

COVID-19 is an ever-changing challenge. If everyone who uses or relies on your business understands what’s happening, trust is strengthened. Emerging from this crisis, that trust will be essential to your continued success.

Start with your employees or contractors. Make sure they know what the business’s activities and prospects are. Keep creditors and debtors in the loop too. Just as you might need support, those who owe you might need consideration too.

And, finally, make sure customers know what’s happening. Keep your website up to date every month, and use other regular contact mechanisms (newsletter, Facebook) to inform them about openings, closings, changes or delays.

COVID-19 is an ever-changing challenge. If everyone who uses or relies on your business understands what’s happening, trust is strengthened. Emerging from this crisis, that trust will be essential to your continued success.

Ready to get on top of your tax and accounting?

Philip Martin can change the culture of your business to ensure independent financial strength.
Philip - Portrait Photo

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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If you haven’t already, your very next step is to talk to us at PMCA to make sure you’re getting the assistance you’re entitled to.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

link me

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

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link me.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

link me.