COVID-19 has been a shocker for the business community. Many business owners struggled and continue to struggle with reduced demand especially after the lockdown. But according to veteran tax consultant and business advisor, Richard Ashby of Gilligan Shepard, these challenges can’t compare to what’s lying ahead. As Richard puts it “The primary challenge for client’s we see, will be how their businesses deal with the “new normal”.
Read on and find tips on how to keep business running successfully in the ‘new normal.’
First, reach out for help to cope with the turbulence
A survey by the Auckland Business Chamber in early April indicated that nearly one in three small and medium businesses won’t survive COVID-19. This triggered frantic efforts by both the business community and the government to try and save these businesses which contribute to about 30% of the country’s GDP and employ nearly 600,000 Kiwis. According to Richard, “Some of our clients seemingly unaffected by Covid-19, while others have hit the wall, particularly due to a forced lockdown and border closures, having the consequence of revenues completely drying up.”
The government set up various programs to keep businesses running including:
- Cash flow loans and support programs
- Wage subsidy and leave support programs.
- Business Debt Hibernation
Also, private organizations like banks started various in-house initiatives to keep businesses running. If your business has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s handling taxation issues or cash flow loans, you should reach out for help. For instance, Richard noted that “the wage subsidies have been a lifeline for some of the clients.”
Review your supply chains
On 19th March 2020, all borders were closed and on 21st March we were in a level-4 lockdown. Some say that this was how New Zealand beat the novel virus. However, it also triggered an unprecedented disruption of supply chains. It was harder for suppliers to keep business running and traders struggled to contact critical suppliers and estimate shortages. It became apparent that businesses should focus on local supply chains.
Review your supply chains and keep your business running by taking these steps:
- Keep talking with your suppliers to understand their contingency plans.
- Identify alternative suppliers as a backup plan to improve resilience.
- Review possible contractual liabilities due to delays, cancellations or quality issues and take appropriate action.
- Review lessons learned and develop strategies to improve.
Permanently establish a remote working option
What business leaders have been procrastinating for nearly a decade has become a critical agenda now. Accelerated by the virus, several companies are taking steps to make remote working a permanent feature.
Don’t bury your head in the sand. Take the following steps to establish remote working and keep business running:
- Develop the policies.
- Use a training approach.
- Review your recruiting strategy (to combine both skills and a virtual culture).
- Build a robust virtual culture.
- Invest in technology.
- Adopt a continuously improving mindset.
Allow team members more flexibility to keep the business running
Along with establishing remote working options, remember, each individual in your team is dealing with the crisis at a personal level. Some may have to deal with schooling issues for their kids. Others may be called to attend to personal matters on short notice. Whatever the case, try to be flexible and have a working continuity plan.
Lastly, communicate with clients
Don’t forget the most important asset for your business – your clients. They are the ones who keep your business running. If most of you clients are walk-in customers, the lockdown and social distancing must have dealt a blow on client relations. But you can salvage some grounds through digital platforms.
Reach out to your customers through various platforms and keep your business alive in their minds. You may not be an expert at this or any of the steps above. But as Richard puts it, “One key message is for all businesses to be aware of exactly what support is out there, to assist them through these trying times.”
Take these steps, and engage with the community, government agencies and customers. You’ll be sure to keep the business running successfully.