In the face of the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), you’ve hopefully heard advice from the Department of Health in Australia and the Chief Medical Officer as well as from your local public services, but you may be wondering what it means for your local business. We worked with leading small business organisations to compile the following tips to help you in your preparations. The best thing to do is to plan, stay informed, and prepare.
Nextdoor reached out to the NSW Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope, who said that, while people should take the necessary precautions and advice from health experts, it is important to remain calm and continue normal activities.
He told us, “First and foremost, the safety and wellbeing of everyone in NSW is the Government’s highest priority.” Mr Tudehope also said, “We understand small businesses are doing it tough in the face of the coronavirus, which is why it’s vital we all continue to get out into our local communities and support small businesses. The message is clear – our local communities and shops are open for business.” His sentiments are being echoed around the nation across all state and territory business ministries and organisations.
Anne Nalder, Founder and CEO of the Small Business Association of Australia recommends that small business owners not be complacent and to do a reality check as soon as possible in order to survive during a period that is uncertain. She says, “Do not leave things to the last moment. The most important thing is not to feel ashamed to seek help. You need to be on top of the challenge and ensure you keep in touch with your suppliers.”
TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE YOUR BUSINESS
- IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING DIFFICULTIES or know someone who is, please don’t hesitate to call the Small Business Association on 1300 413 915 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN: Amend your plan to deal with disruptions to your business operations. Pay particular attention to your cash flow during this period. Be ready to implement new strategies to safeguard your employees, customers, and business partners as best you can, whether exploring alternative suppliers, making changes to production, or considering digital over in-person meetings. Update customers of any contingency plans you have in place, or if there will be issues or delays in your products or services.
- STAY UP TO DATE: If your business also has an international presence with employees outside of Australia, refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) site.
- IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES or entering into a tight period, get in touch with your bank and ask for assistance under the Banks Hardship Provisions. Also talk to your telecommunications and energy providers, they are usually understanding and can defer or reduce payments.
- IF YOU OWE THE ATO $100,000 or less, you can phone 137226 which is a self-help line and you can make arrangements to defer your tax bill or arrange a payment plan.
- SHARE YOUR PLAN WITH CUSTOMERS: To alleviate concerns around coronavirus, share what measures you are taking in the interest of your community’s health. Display your plan at your business location and/or on your marketing channels, like e-mail, website, or social.
- PROMOTING HYGIENE AT HOME AND AT WORK: The risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the social and work settings can be minimised through a good standard of general hygiene. This includes: Promoting cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene. Routine cleaning of frequently touched hard surfaces with detergent/disinfectant solution/wipe. Providing adequate alcohol-based hand rub for staff. Learn more on work and home hygiene on the Health Department site here.
- GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURS AND FELLOW BUSINESSES: A Localised community response can be critical, so talk with your neighbours and local customers (particularly the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions) about neighbourhood emergency planning. Share your plan with other local businesses in your communities, especially those in your supply chain.
- IDENTIFY HELP IN YOUR COMMUNITY: Local authorities will have a pulse on neighbourhood conditions and will be able to respond quickest in a time of need. Take the time now to learn about plans in place in your communities and share yours
As the situation unfolds, refer to this list of resources from our recent blog. For real-time information about the virus see this map. The Health World Organisation website is a useful resource and includes a section for Myth Busting, so that during this time we can stick to the facts and keep our communities and one another safe. And of course, make use of your Nextdoor Neighbourhood and reach out to neighbours. Do continue to support your local businesses, because when local businesses thrive, local communities do too.
You can also see updates in media releases and transcripts from Minister Hunt relating to coronavirus on the Health Ministers’ site.
For questions about testing or the welfare of people with the virus, contact your state or territory health authority.