It’s around twelve months since COVID really started having an impact in Australia. A few things that come to mind when thinking about the past year:
- Restrictions and closures to national and international borders;
- Whole communities went into lockdown and got cut off from the outside world;
- Students learning online and alongside their parents who were also working from home;
- Changes to workplace laws and awards;
- Billions of dollars sunk into the economy by the Federal Government in the form of stimulus measures such as JobKeeper, JobSeeker Cash Flow Boost and JobMaker;
- Years worth of legislation rolled out in a matter of weeks;
- People accessing their superannuation early;
- Deferrals and abatements on liabilities such as rent, payroll tax, ATO debt, mortgages and loans;
- Hand sanitiser has become a staple in homes, cars, handbags, schoolbags and desk drawers, and standard practice when entering many businesses and public places;
- Weddings and funerals have gone virtual;
- Panic buying and odd shortages on toilet paper;
- We’ve introduced new words into our everyday vocabulary such as pivot, social distancing and hotel quarantine;
- Whole cities have come to a screeching halt with businesses closed, workers and students at home, cars left in the garage;
- A greater need for mental health services as the emotional and financial toll of the crisis left it’s mark;
- Families spending more time together because we’re all at home, but also an increase of domestic violence and alcohol consumption;
- An alarming increase to unemployment;
- Communities and neighbourhoods come together like they never have before;
- Businesses have pivoted and are doing wonderful things they may never would have otherwise;
- An increased use of technology as a way of working, learning and communicating;
We’ve shown that we can operate flexibly and responsively to change and unexpected developments and I’m without doubt there are many others that I haven’t listed here.
We’re now less than 4 weeks away from the end of JobKeeper. That also means the end of the additional powers that exist within the Fairwork Act that give flexibility around stand down and change of duties, which have really assisted businesses over the past 12 months.
With the end of JobKeeper, now is the time to ensure you are well placed to continue operating through April and beyond. So thinking about your cash flow and how you’re going to get through the coming months and rebuild will become more important than ever. You may soon find that ATO payments, deferred loan payments, deferred rents, will now become due.
With over 1.5 million people still relying heavily on the support of JobKeeper, the end of the scheme may mean making some hard decisions about flexibility arrangements or redundancies; having serious conversations with your landlord, suppliers and the ATO; considering what other things you can put in place to ensure the viability of your business; or making the very tough decision to gracefully bow out.
In the roughly twelve months since COVID it’s important to note that it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. There have been some very positive outcomes and I’ve listed some of them above. Others include:
- According to one recent survey 1 in 5 businesses actually grew their revenue by 30% or more in September 2020 compared to September 2019, and continue to thrive.
- 43% of businesses pivoted and 20% of those said they’re going to keep the changes because they have improved the depth and breadth of their businesses.
- Many businesses have gone digital – online selling, virtual meetings, flexible working arrangements, electronic check-ins, online ordering and deliveries, electronic payment methods.
There are a lot of great stories, but how do we continue to thrive past the end of March? I think two of the really important business lessons we can take from COVID is remembering how vital cash is, and realising the importance of being prepared – whether that be through a pandemic, fire, flood, cyclone, or loss of a key team member.
As well as keeping a good eye on the cash, you will be in a very good position if you:
- Go digital and invest in good technology
- Engage a BAS Agent or other business advisor
- Keep good records
- Have robust systems and processes
- Engage with the ATO to bring your lodgements and payments up to date.
- Communicate clearly with your customers, your team, and your suppliers.
The legacy of the last 12 months is going to last a long time. But I think the best thing to come out of it is how we’ve adapted in times of extreme adversity and uncertainty, and how we’ve worked together to come out the other side not only intact, and in some aspects better than before. But I’m under no illusion that there are still tough times ahead for many. If you’d like to have a chat about how you can go digital, improve your systems, or improve your cashflow, click the link below to book an obligation free chat.