Small businesses have been the strength of New Zealand’s economy. From start-ups to small retail shops and nascent e-commerce platforms, there is no shortage of small and mid-sized enterprises in the country. However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been fair on these small entities, which are now struggling to survive. The whole world has been grappling with the novel coronavirus, which has led to the closure of non-essential services and lockdown in various countries.
However, the strict measures taken by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have helped in eliminating the threat of community transmission in the country. The lockdown has been lifted after seven weeks, and the bars and clubs have been reopened. Nevertheless, the impact of the lethal virus on the commercial sector cannot be overstated. Naturally, entrepreneurs who have bought a profitable business for sale in New Zealand are feeling uncertain and concerned about the crisis.
They have witnessed the worse time for their business and have to be sure about starting again without any fears. So here is a survival guide for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Safety At All Costs Must Be The Priority
As businesses have been allowed to open, the onus of keeping the spread of the virus under control is now on the business owners. Thus the premises must be cleaned, and all the surfaces must be disinfected regularly. The employees must maintain physical distance and wash their hands often. If any of the staff members are not feeling well or has flu-like symptoms, he/she must stay at home in self-isolation and get medical advice. Retail shops must demarcate spots for customers so that they do not come too close to each other.
Everybody must avoid touching their face and use a sanitiser to clean their hands when they are outside. Also, the employer must have all the contact details of the staff so that they can be easily identified for contact tracing. All the guidelines for hospitality sector must be kept in mind if you are operating a cafeteria in the office.
2. Communicate With Your Customers
Your customers are the most vital aspect of your business, and you cannot keep them in the dark. You must inform them how you plan to reopen and what precautions you will be taking. If you are only going to offer contactless deliveries through online orders, then make sure your buyers know about it. Reassure them that you will be offering the same quality and service without fail so that they continue to trust you.
Keep them updated about the trading hours and safety guidelines that they will have to maintain. Also, if there is any delay in procurement of supplies, which will increase the time of deliveries, then make sure the same is intimated to the customers so that they do not feel betrayed or annoyed.
3. Continuity Planning For Small Businesses
We all need to have a backup plan ready for an unprecedented crisis that is being experienced across the world at the moment. A business continuity plan must include the details of handling the operations in times of a natural calamity. It can help you to get back on track without struggling as you will have the required strategy in place. It will include identifying the most profitable products and discontinuing the ones that are not getting any sales.
You must delegate work to key members and make sure that the entire project is not dependent on one person, and there is a backup available. Maintain a strong rapport with your suppliers, investors and customers. Lower your costs by downsizing and refinancing loans to low-interest rates.
4. Rely on Remote Working For Most Tasks
To minimise the risk of infection, it is recommended to ask your employees to work remotely as far as possible. Leverage the digital medium to connect with your staff and help them work seamlessly. Adopt new modes of communication, such as video conferencing and live chatting to avoid any confusions and errors in understanding.
Provide your staff with the required software and hardware to manage the operations effortlessly from home so that you can align your remote team’s goals. In fact, a remote workforce is more productive and satisfied as they do not waste time in travelling to the office or get distracted by office gossip and chatty colleagues. The sense of enjoying the perfect work-life balance fills them with the zeal to perform better and maintain a positive attitude.
5. Take Your Business Online
The lockdown has made a lot of people rethink their business strategy and understand the significance of doing business online. Most of the customers are glued to their mobile phones, and the online shopping industry has grown by 6.9% during 2014-19. Tools like Shopify and WordPress have made it affordable and effortless to get a business website with e-commerce functionality. You can leverage business listings and Google My Business tool to entice local customers and make them aware of your contact details.
Also, engage them through social media profiles to retain your loyal customers and promote your brand. You can even diversify to find new customers. For example, you can start selling face masks, sanitisers, disinfectants and other essentials until the demand for your original product line resumes.
6. Monitor Your Finances
Staying on top of the financial records is the priority of entrepreneurs. Thus you will have to renew your budget and financial projections for the next quarter. Consult your bookkeeper and understand the depreciation in sales that will affect your goals. Make a tight budget for the next few months and cut down on the redundant costs.
Manage all the ongoing costs like rent, insurance and utilities. Negotiate the rates of raw materials with suppliers and the lease with your landlord. Utilise the pocket-friendly ways of marketing instead of using traditional media. Reach your customers through social media platforms, mobile apps, website and email marketing to send out any messages.
7. Make Use of Government’s Support
Small businesses which had to pull down their shutters due to COVID-19, and are now facing a financially distressing period can take advantage of the tax relief and cash flow improvement schemes offered by the government. The provisional tax threshold for the year 2020-21 has been raised from $2500 to $5000. Similarly, the threshold for small asset depreciation has been increased from $500 to $1000.
Businesses which have been adversely affected can pay their outstanding tax in instalments and get the provisional tax calculated again by the IRD while providing proof of their inability to pay the amount. Enterprises which had a turnover ranging from $250,000 to $80,000,000 can also apply for a business loan to manage the flow of capital.
As an entrepreneur who has bought a business for sale in New Zealand, you must be feeling sceptical about the future. However, a far-sighted approach, along with this survival guide, will help you to stay afloat with minimal obstructions from natural disasters.