A few tips and words of advice.
- Paying Staff:a. Apply for Wage subsidy – it may take time to come through.b. You are no longer obligated to top-up to 80% if not financially viable.c. If staff are able to work from home, 80% pay does not mean only 80% work.
d. Expect some push-back and disquiet from some staff. This is often due to ignorance of the scheme and general situation.
e. Be human; talk compassionately to staff. Communicate clearly (backed up in writing) and in a timely way.
f. Be patient and considerate (these are all v worrying times) but the general principles of employment law still apply. Get professional advice if disputes arise.
- Payment holiday: Check if your Life & Trauma Insurance supplier has a 6 month fees holiday scheme which allows cover to be maintained. I suggest talking to Mark Scown Insurance Broker to get a view of possible options.
- Mortgage options: Check with your lender/advisor for specific advice, but options may include:a. Payment deferral (“holiday”)b. Term extensionc. Changing to Interest only
There are pros and cons to each of these options – so get clarification.
- Property Lease options: Contractual clauses such as “No Access” and “Force Majeure” may oblige your landlord to revise your monthly payment to a “fair proportion” due to the Government imposed closure. This might reflect an office space effectively becoming merely a storage unit due to the lockdown.Seek legal advice if you need to go down the “formal” process but start with a friendly discussion with your landlord. It may save legal fees.
- Supplier Discounts: Ask for discounts
- Cashflow: “Cash is king” – Cash availability is essential for you to buy your groceries. Look to extend your cash cycle, iea. Cash out: Ask supplier for extended payment term, andb. Cash in: Offer a “early payment” discount to customers
- Payment of Tax: A complex matter best discussed with your accountant. However, the essence (and key point) is that you will no longer have interest applied to late/non-payment of Tax (GST, PAYE and Terminal Tax) by the IRD for the coming period. Do make sure you still file your Returns on time as that legal obligation remains.However, don’t be stupid nor irresponsible as a business owner/Director … it will likely bite you on the bum later!
- Cost Cutting: Review your budget (Business and home) to determine what is “essential” and what is “nice to have”.
- Client Retention: A few options:a. Look after your clients where you can, e.g consider a COVID-19 Level 4 Discount whilst we are in lockdown.b. Keep communicating with clients but absolutely avoid spamming, e.g I truly no longer care about Hannah’s shoes daily COVID-19 update … I have unsubscribed to their mailing list!
- Don’t panic: Don’t make rash decisions nor be paralysed with fear. Keep yourself well informed and remain open to (and expect) significant changes in your business/home world. Ask for a second opinion, critical review of your situation … Probably not your mum!
- Mental Resilience & Wellbeing: One of the most important things you need to remember is to maintain your mental wellbeing during this extreme time of uncertainty- especially if you are a key decision maker within your business. Having a “Wellness Coach” has been a major benefit to me. I have been working with Charlotte Walsh for nearly a year now and she continues to be a huge support … keeping me sane(ish) well before COVID-19 was even a thing. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Her sessions can be held via video conference. If this is something you’d like to explore, you can find her on the “Wellness Balance Energy with Charlotte Walsh” Facebook page or her webpage. Do it, you won’t regret it!
- Getting help: Funding may be available:a. Using the Regional Business Partnership (RBP) scheme, Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC) and Christchurch Employers Chamber of Commerce (CECC) have a limited Government budget to provide 100% subsidised support to businesses. This support covers a range of smart advisors … including me and my wife Belinda!b. The maximum funding is $5000 and RBP acceptance criteria apply. Get in touch with ENC/CECC if this is something of interest.
Remember the only constant in life is change – I’ll try and update this Checklist if significant changes occur.
Stay safe AT HOME!!