What To Do With Your Business In Lockdown
Published 6:12 am 2 Jul 2021
As Australia is plunged into multiple lockdowns, it’s time for businesses to brace themselves again for impact.
Just weeks ago, the Australian economy was making a remarkable recovery with unemployment returning to pre-pandemic levels and the booming housing market helping to cut budget deficits across the country.
Greater Sydney’s two-week lockdown is estimated to be costing the economy $143 million a day in lost activity, and with just 5% of Australians fully vaccinated, these latest lockdowns are unlikely to be the last.
Undoubtedly, this will present a significant challenge for the economy and business owners.
The JobKeeper scheme – which was broadly considered a success – ended on the 28th of March, meaning that this latest bout of COVID-19 cases and lockdowns across the country will leave many employers and employees without an economic lifeline this time around.
As a business owner, you will obviously want to do everything in your power to enable your business to navigate through the current challenges and setbacks caused by stay-at-home orders, and to ultimately ensure that your business continues to thrive long after the COVID-19 pandemic passes.
Here are some tips to maximise your odds of doing so:
Understand the government support available to your business
The first thing you’ll need to do is understand the restrictions placed upon businesses in your state to see what you can and cannot do during these lockdowns.
Currently, each state has different lockdown rules and regulations and the duration of each lockdown will be dependent on new cases that arise. So, while NSW is expected to have lockdowns until the 9th of July, that date could easily be extended if new cases emerge.
With this in mind, business owners should prepare themselves for potential extensions to lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in case the worst case scenario occurs. Expect the best but prepare for the worst.
With NSW currently experiencing the largest spike in COVID-19 cases, they are the only state that has introduced new support measures for businesses that are facing lockdowns, including: “grants of between $5000 and $10,000 for small businesses, payroll tax deferrals for all employers, an extension of the Dine & Discover program to 31 August and the ability for people to use Dine & Discover vouchers for takeaway delivered directly to their home by the venue itself.”
If you operate a business in NSW, ensure that you get the necessary support available to you to trade through this lockdown period.
Ensure your business is “lockdown-proof”
Government initiatives like JobKeeper, Dine & Discover and HomeBuilder were able to provide a necessary lifeline for Australia’s economy, as well as businesses that were upended by the COVID-19 restrictions and faced serious financial losses.
However, as we know from the past year and a half, lockdowns are as unpredictable as new COVID-19 outbreaks, and support from governments isn’t a guarantee. This is why it’s important to ensure that whenever a lockdown does hit, your business is as well-equipped as possible to continue operating.
For example, if you sell food or products, ensuring that you have contactless click & collect and effective delivery services will enable you to continue making sales regardless of the relevant lockdown laws in place.
One case of an effective adaptation strategy to COVID-19 lockdowns was Freshchoys, a fruit and vegetable retailer in Melbourne. When stage 4 lockdowns hit Melbourne last year, it looked like Freshchoys was going to face serious hardship. That is, until the owner of the company began to sell their produce on the app WeChat.
Instead of struggling due to the lockdowns, Freshchoys’ ability to adapt and implement delivery services saw 8,000 new customers signing up to the company’s chat group. Instead of having to lay off workers during this period, Mr. Yu, the owner of the business, had to employ additional staff during the height of the pandemic to handle the new business he was receiving.
Another company that is utilizing cutting-edge technology amid the pandemic is Wing, a drone-delivery service run by Google’s parent company Alphabet.
Currently operating out of Canberra, businesses can sign up for Wing’s services, and have their products delivered to customers within minutes via drone – avoiding traffic and emitting fewer emissions than a car.
Customers can even have coffee delivered via the drone service, which hangs upright from the Wing drone and is lowered to ground level without spillage.
If you provide educational services such as exercise classes, music lessons or counselling services as examples, ensure that you are familiar with online meeting programs like Skype or Zoom and can quickly transition to a business that operates from home when lockdowns hit.
For example, Fluidform Pilates implemented an at-home pilates program, and when individuals sign up to receive the monthly instructional pilates videos, they are sent a kit which includes a mat, resistance bands and other necessary equipment to do pilates.
Providing online meetings can be just as fruitful as in-person meetings and you may even find that you can continue working from home outside of lockdown conditions, potentially saving you money on renting an office and travel expenses.
In the UK, some motivated individuals have even implemented virtual pubs, where individuals drink, play live music and have trivia nights all via Zoom.
An uncertain future
While not every business will be able to adapt to the lockdowns, such as a recent case of a barber who was fined for remaining open during Sydney’s lockdown, it’s important to take this time to look at your business with an open mind and see if there are creative ways that you can adapt to the ongoing uncertainty.
Until vaccination rates reach a critical mass in Australia, lockdowns will always be a possibility no matter where you live, and your business could be financially hurt each time a new outbreak occurs if you aren’t sufficiently prepared.
However, if you can effectively alter the way your business operates during these unique and uncertain times, your business may not only survive but may even thrive.
Protect your assets
Making your business antifragile is crucial if you want to be able to weather the ongoing storm that is COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns. However, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life can take very unexpected turns, and no matter how prepared you think you are, mistakes can always occur.
Before you know it, you could be in the middle of a lawsuit or filing for bankruptcy – with creditors knocking at your door to repossess your assets.
This is why it’s important to protect your assets to ensure the rug can’t be pulled out from underneath you.
For more information on how to protect your wealth and personal assets in today’s uncertain times register on our free upcoming webinar.
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