Businesses advised: now’s the time to be pragmatic and proactive

Karyn Starmer30 March 2020
Andrew Sykes

RSM Director of Business Advisory Andrew Sykes says “the decisions we need to make today are the ones that make sure that we are still here in six months”. Photo: RSM.

Professional services providers in accounting, insurance and business support services are urging business to be pragmatic and proactive in order to survive the COVID-19 crisis and protect their businesses.

Most businesses have already made changes to adapt to operating in an environment of social distancing but there’s more they can do to emerge from the crisis in good shape.

Rubik3 Associate Partner Nadia Pessarossi says while businesses have had to put changes into place quickly and use a variety of communication tools to meet and work, embracing technology will help them evolve successfully.

“Try to think ‘this is business as usual’. Look at opportunities to keep operating but make it virtual. Use telephones more, use Zoom Video Conferencing. Really think outside the square,” Ms Pessarossi said.

RSM Australia Director of Business Advisory Andrew Sykes says that for businesses that have had some good years recently, now is the time for long-term decision making.

“The decisions we need to make today are the ones that make sure that we are still here in six months. Work towards building a sustainable business,” Mr Sykes said.

Mr Sykes urged business not to delay making decisions.

“We are all going to get stressed and experience cash flow issues. Take advantage of the stimulus measures. Don’t shy away from your problems. If you are having cash flow problems, don’t hide from your bank,” Mr Sykes said.

He suggests asking to go interest-only on business loans or accessing the unsecured loans offered in the stimulus package. There are still lending criteria for these loans and they must be paid back in three years but they may assist staying afloat until then.

He is also urging businesses to make sure they lodge their March BAS as that’s how the stimulus will be calculated. Unfortunately, to get the second stimulus payment the business needs to be operating, so businesses like gyms and clubs won’t get that.

Mr Sykes says that small businesses should speak to their financial advisers to see what they are eligible for. “It is very confusing at the moment because we are getting different announcements and it is changing rapidly, but so is the business environment,” he said.

Stimulus measures

RSM Australia Director of Business Advisory, Andrew Sykes is urging businesses to take advantage of the stimulus measures. Image: Supplied.

allinsure Managing Director Peter Chamberlain says many businesses have now realised that their business insurance policies do not cover this pandemic but should still be looking ahead at the risks to their business and consider risk mitigation to make sure a bad situation does not get any worse.

“This is a difficult time, no doubt, but there are also opportunities. Looking ahead, business will be different. I think people will really start to examine their work-life balance and try to get the balance right,” Mr Chamberlain said.

RSM’s Sykes says keeping employees engaged is important.

“Think back a few months when we were struggling to find good staff, try to keep your valuable employees so they are there with you on the other side of this.”

Ms Pessarossi is also urging business to look after their staff and suggests checking in with them regularly as well as finding new routines to ensure their health and well being.

“It can be as simple as going for a walk before the daily staff video conferencing hookup, or perhaps have lunch together via Zoom. Keep the team connected, stay in touch.”

She said there are some upsides to the changes being made in offices around the country.

“After 20 years of being told to embrace technology we are now at a point where we are being forced into it. This is an opportunity to go paperless, use the cloud, trust technology. It is important not to be scared of change,” Ms Pessarossi said.

Mr Sykes agrees. “There is no doubt this upheaval will lead to efficiency in the workplace with a bigger focus on productivity. Technology will free up more time for all of us. There will be positives. Good things can come out of this.”

For more resources to deal with the impact of coronavirus on your business visit RSM’s Coronavirus Advisory Centre.

Original Article published by Karyn Starmer on The RiotACT.

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