The Covid-19 pandemic is having a growing impact on global and Australian businesses.
Business owners therefore need to make sure they are well prepared so they can survive until the situation settles down.
If the government has allowed you to keep operating, you need to be open for business as usual – but differently!
A business continuity plan is a great way to have everything on paper, so you can ensure you’ve covered all the bases.
So, what do you need to do to protect your business going forward?
There are three areas you need to focus on:
1) Protecting your team
2) Protecting your cash flow
3) Protecting your business
Let’s look at these in a bit more detail.
Protecting your team – because they are your biggest asset!
Talk to your team every day – about how the business is going and find out how they are feeling.
This keeps them informed and therefore reduces stress and boosts morale. This is especially critical if they are working remotely.
You also need to focus on reducing the risk of transmission by
- improving office hygiene
- having meetings where people are spread out
- using work from home strategies, like Zoom meetings or a WhatsApp chat group.
Your team may also have questions about what would happen if the business were shut or in lockdown.
Do they need to take voluntary leave or compulsory leave? Do they need to take unpaid leave?
Work out who is critical to operations and/or see if they can share the pain so all can survive.
Make sure you comply with any government regulatory requirements regarding COVID-19 like travel and self-isolation/quarantine restrictions as well as the usual OHS rules (especially if your team is working from home); and the normal Fair Work Australia requirements.
Protecting your cash flow – because cash is king!
Protect your top line revenue by letting clients know you are ‘Open for Business’ as usual… but different!
So, watch your pipeline of work closely and check in with your debtors to make sure they are going to pay you on time.
It’s also important to minimise capital and discretionary expenditure and organise supplier payment plans.
And make sure to take advantage of Government Stimulus Packages including the ability to defer tax payments – but make sure you lodge your BASs and returns on time even if you can’t pay.
Update/prepare your cash flow forecast for the next six months and perform good/bad/ugly analysis – where are the pain points? What can you do to fix it?
Don’t forget, you can also talk to the bank ASAP about reducing loan repayments to minimum or interest only (or even put on hold, if that’s something they have the capacity to do.)
Protect your business – with a business continuity plan
First and foremost – talk to your clients and suppliers. It’s important to let them know you are open for business but let them know what has changed eg office hours, zoom meetings, job completion dates etc.
Adapt your operations:
- what do you have to keep doing versus what can be suspended?
- what do you have to do differently?
- can your team work remotely? Test NOW (before you find out the hard way!) Do they have the equipment (eg dual screens), safe space (OHS issues) and internet bandwidth to work from home effectively?
If your team is still working in the office – make sure staff take home their laptops each night just in case government recommendations change and they can’t make it back to the office in the morning.
Manage capacity and productivity by giving your team clear productivity goals to keep them on track. If there isn’t any client work they can do from home – what else can they do? There is always something productive to achieve!
Use this time to upskill and expand training opportunities:
- catch up on CPD via reading, research and online webinars
- devise a new marketing plan – write blogs, newsletters or new website content
- product/service development – work out ways to improve the quality, variety or efficiency of how you do business
- document processes – this is the perfect opportunity to update your checklists, templates, job descriptions, induction manuals operation manuals etc.
Get some help from the experts
Many businesses are well placed to survive this crisis.
However – communication is essential. Talk to your team and your customers, keep them in the loop about updates and developments. Use technology to keep the wheels turning.
If you need any help – or even just need a sounding board – give us a call. We can help develop your business continuity plan, to ensure you are in the best position possible.