As Australia bunkers down into self-isolation and embraces social distancing, it’s become clear COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on small businesses across Australia. Through this time of uncertainty and instability, we want to support our clients and keep small businesses up and running. We’ve asked two of our long-term Resource Team members, senior accountant Yateender Gupta and business consultant Bob McCotter, for their professional advice on getting through this challenging time. Both Yateender and Bob have over 30 years’ experience in their respective fields and have been passionate advocates and volunteers of Ignite since its inception. They have witnessed the trials, errors and successes of Ignite clients, and understand the barriers business owners are now facing. They spoke to us about the importance of staying informed, knowing your new rights in the COVID-19 climate, and taking this as just another business challenge – one you’ll definitely be stronger for.
Don’t get stuck in denial
“You must accept what is happening’, says Yateender. “You can’t complain, you can’t ask yourself why me? You can’t change this, but you can change your strategic thinking.”
Stay up-to-date with COVID-19 government initiatives
Take the time to research what the government is offering for small business owners (and their employees) in this unstable climate. “New South Wales is offering $10,000 grants for utilities, electricity, water, even accounting fees,” says Yateender. “If your business has lost over 30% of revenue, you can qualify for the Federal Government Jobkeeper payments to keep your staff employed”.
Connect with your landlord
On a positive note, your lease (if your business has one) is secure. If you’ve been paying rent to your landlord and revenue suddenly drops, explain this to your landlord – they can approach the bank and get repayments deferred, providing the landlord agrees not to evict.
Start thinking long-term
Think about the future of your business during social isolation restrictions “Takeaway is going to be the only option for months, so it’s worth considering repurposing your restaurant kitchen or food truck to accommodate these changes,” says Yateender. “Anything you spend on changing the way your business works to suit the current situation is completely tax deductible.”
Use this time as opportunity to reflect and upskill
Business consultant and Ignite mentor Bob McCotter recommends viewing this time as an opportunity. “What opportunity, you might ask? Nothing is happening!’ he laughs. “But if you’re stuck at home staring at a wall, you can actually use that to be productive – it’s a chance to pause and reflect”, he says.
Take stock of the challenges your business may be facing, and consider whether there are any actions you can take to overcome them. “Bad with computers? Take a free online course. Take an English course if the language barrier is something holding you back – this is the time,” says Bob. TAFE NSW are currently offering fee-free online short courses in practical business skills and enhancing your digital impact, among others. Check out the TAFE website for further details.
Get creative with how you connect with your customers
A big concern for some small businesses in this time of self-isolation is a lack of customers and foot traffic. If this is how your business usually brings in profits, it’s time to think outside the box, and refer back to Yateender’s advice about adjusting your business to reflect the current climate.
Bob recommends getting as digital as possible. “People are staring at their screens more than ever, so use it – do I need to do a short Facebook clip explaining what I do, to engage people?”.
Try and incorporate boosting your business into your daily exercise routine. “You’re allowed to go and exercise – should you be dropping leaflets into people’s letter boxes as you walk? Anything could help,” says Bob.
Don’t give up
This won’t last forever, and we have to work to support each other so we come out the other side. Take care of yourself, you friends and family first and foremost. We’re all in this together
If you or your business need assistance, please reach out to the Ignite team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yateender and Bob are also always happy to directly lend a hand; contact the Ignite team for their details.
We are here to help.