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Things kind of suck right now. We all know it. We all feel it. But we WILL get through it. You know how? We’ll get through it together. No matter what dark, crap, difficult times we may be dealing with right now as we all navigate through this time of COVID-19, this minefield with no blueprint, we will make it through as long as we support each other, help each other and stand by each other. For some, offices and businesses have closed, creative events have been shut down, and people are wondering how they’re going to financially be able to survive and support their families. It may feel scary and nearly impossible right now, friends, but together, we can all get through COVID-19 with our business and our humanity intact.
If you’re running a services business there are a number of things you can do to help not only your own business, but other businesses around you, so that you all have the potential to come out of this stronger, better and more resilient than ever before.
Show solidarity to other small business owners
We are all going through it right now. It hurts. So how can we help each other? Perhaps instead of heading over to Woolies to fight the crazy people with tasers, head to a local milk bar or mom and pop shop to get some of the things you need - for your pantry, for your kiddo to stay entertained or for your new home office. There are lots of small businesses you can support in this time of need. And you can give them support in return! Perhaps for a discounted rate you can offer them some marketing for their business to stay on its feet. Maybe you can offer a trade if finances are tight! A photoshoot for a supply of - dare we say loo roll? How about gin? - you get the idea!
For those businesses that are truly facing financial hardship, the ATO has a supporting plan currently in place to work with businesses due to the COVID-19. They are offering a series of relief options, so if you need help call their Emergency Support Information Line at 1800 806 218. When speaking with the ATO, Give them a detailed explanation of how the business is affected by the COVID-19. Perhaps sales have dropped off due to appointment cancellations that would normally be face-to-face. Maybe regularly scheduled workshops have been canceled because of COVID-19. Also, be sure to share the date you want to defer the payment to. Fortunately, the ATO is currently open to negotiating give the circumstances. Keep in mind, the deferral of BAS payment will also apply to the March through to June activity statements at this stage. Another wonderful grant option is being offered by Facebook’ $100 million in cash grants and ad credits are available for small businesses to help keep them afloat during these difficult times. Find out more here: https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants . Please continue to monitor the ATO and Facebook sites and links for any updates.
Practical steps to take
Find out what the right processes and procedures are for you to continue running your business. This covers everything from proper hygiene maintenance if your place of business is remaining open, to where to go if you are seeking support from the government due to financial hardship while work has stalled. You can find details for all of these important factors to consider on the Fair Work website.
- Working from home is a very real possibility for many who have never had to work remotely before. Yes, it can be wonderfully practical for many, but it isn’t always easy. We want to offer you some suggestions to transition into remote work during a difficult time as easy as possible.
- Communication is key. Be sure to know what is expected of you from your employer and colleagues from the word ‘go’. If you’re an employer, be sure your staff has all of the knowledge they need from you for a smooth transition and make them aware you are here to support them and you’re in it together.
- Connection and tech is important, too! A solid WIFI connection, email up and running and awesome apps and means to stay organised and connected with your team will go a long way to keep things running smoothly, even when the world outside feels sideways...check out apps like Slack, Trello and Monday. Use HelloSign, SignNow or DocuSign to get those digital signatures. Keep in mind many are free to a point, so figure out your needs and if you can work with a couple of them at one time for different purposes, you’ll be able to stay highly connected and organised without having to spend an extra penny!
- Space and things in place will help keep your head on straight, too. This is where that supporting small business comes in! Get the supplies you need to feel orderly and to help create a peaceful environment to work in. Maybe that’s special pens and a new notebook, maybe it’s a scented candle you love. Whatever the case may be, make the space one that feels good to be in. This will also help you feel more productive. If you are having to work around the kiddos, create a game plan together. Maybe it means an hour of play followed by an hour of work, helping them to understand the new situation. Maybe it means a couple hours with an aunt or uncle and trading childcare duties with healthy loved ones who are in the same boat. Or it may mean some screen time when that isn’t normally your thing. Don’t knock yourself for it. Strange times call for exceptions and understanding. You’ve got this. You’re not alone.
If you usually work in an environment where people get together to work, learn or share projects and creative events, using apps like Zoom or Skype or Facebook Video Messenger can be a great way to stay motivated and stay employed. If you’re a company of performers, live stream shows for a low-cost ticket and keep people in isolation or who are socially distancing entertained! Or postpone your event instead of canceling so tickets can be moved over to a later date instead of having to be refunded. Run classes online, whether it’s art, yoga, dance or a course in philosophy, it truly is possible! You can still charge for classes and earn money to get you through. You can even trade services and lessons with someone else if finances are tight and you cannot afford to pay for a workshop or course like you normally would. Webinars and handouts are an easy way to stay on top of your game, and they can even help you connect to other businesses and form relationships you may never have formed in normal circumstances! Not saying COVID-19 and isolation is a gift... but you can find the positive in it.
We know that this is a difficult time for all of us. But we will get through this. And if we do our very best to stay level headed and more than anything else, stay together and support our family, friends and neighbours, we may even come out of it better off than how we came into it…
Lots of love to you all. xx