With the onset of the coronavirus, many businesses have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Small businesses, in particular, have been the hardest hit by government shutdowns with plenty of owners reeling during these uncertain times, writes Nick Brogden.
Research conducted indicates that 63 per cent of small businesses have been impacted by the virus in one way or another with 91 per cent stating that they are concerned about keeping their business afloat in the upcoming months.
Consumer spending in Australia has also plummeted by 20 per cent in comparison to last year’s levels, leaving the vast majority of businesses struggling to keep their doors open. While these are certainly difficult times, there are ways to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and proactively manage your business during this period.
Utilise government assistance
Since March 2020, the governments all around the world have announced several stimuli and relief packages that are designed to help small businesses with getting through the pandemic. In Australia in particular, businesses impacted will be able to access a subsidy from the government to continue to pay their employees.
This starts with a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee and can go on to a maximum period of six months. Additionally, if you have a turnover of under $50 million, you’ll also receive a tax-free cash payment of up to $100,000 to help retain staff and continue operation. It’s imperative that you know what you’re entitled to so your business can continue running during this interval.
Reduce financial liability
In these tough economic times, it’s important to reduce your financial burden as much as possible. Check if it’s possible to defer your rent payments, refinance loans, or renegotiate vendor contracts. If you can, it may be advantageous to also check with banks if you can temporarily defer any interest payments on outstanding debts.
Assessing your financial position easily and communicating with these various channels can help in reducing your load. That way, you can focus on keeping your doors open and paying your employees.
Consider transitioning remotely
While this may not be pertinent to all businesses, it’s something worth considering. Research conducted indicates that workers that could work remotely were typically happier and more productive than their non-remote counterparts. Now, telework is seen as essential but you could be reaping rewards in the long-run.
Employees will not only have decreased stress levels and higher employee engagement, but it can also help with reducing costs. Some planning will have to be done before you transition to a remote working model as there needs to be a proper structure in place before employees can be successful.
If you’ve got some savings on hand, while you can place it in a bank to get some interest, why not maximize the amount you’re making by investing it instead? Investments can help you with earning some cash, and they’re not as daunting as they seem.
Active exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in particular are great as you’ll be owning a portfolio of securities at an inexpensive rate. If you’re new to investments you also won’t have to worry as it’ll be managed by someone that’s an expert in the matter. Risks are also minimal with Active ETFs as the portfolio helps in the diversification of risk.
Provide employees with resources
With this being a stressful period, don’t forget to also take care of your employees. Each person deals with stress differently, and as a business owner, you should look to providing critical support. Some resources include mental health resources such as online therapy and telehealth to an employee assistance program and even one-on-one video calls with managers and leaders for a quick catchup.
Surviving this challenge is no easy feat, but it is possible. Minimize the effects of the economic impact by utilizing the methods above. Other methods can also include reallocating resources, strengthening your marketing message, and investing in existing customers.
What’s most crucial, however, is being able to adapt and stay agile and flexible. With a positive mindset, adequate planning, and staying focused you’ll be able to come out stronger on the other side and even yield the greatest possible outcomes. There are plenty of small businesses in the same boat as you so know that you’re not alone, and you’ll all get through this together.
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