Help at hand for small businesses facing economic effects of Covid-19

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Help is at hand for New Zealand’s more than 480,000 small businesses grappling with how to keep afloat during the changing economic environment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A newly established social enterprise, Weather the Storm, has been launched by business consultant Isis Farrelly and sales and marketing expert Cameron Macneil.

Their goal is simple – to support New Zealand’s sole-traders and small business owners in taking immediate action to mitigate the economic downturn.

“These are uncertain and challenging times, so we’re providing advice, tools and resources, including our soon-to-be released programme Getting Through – a step-by step, interactive programme you can complete from home to assess your current position, then develop an action-oriented business and financial plan to get through,” said Farrelly.

“We’ve called upon expert advisors across a number of professions to assist, including accounting, insurance, human resources, legal, marketing and banking.”

The programme, aptly named “Getting Through” offers practical tools and strategies focused on making an immediate difference to a business’s cashflow and bottom line.

Co-founder Cameron Macneil says that when market conditions change for the worse, those who take swift action and adapt don’t just make it through, but often prosper in the long run.

“But to come out the other side of the kind of market impacts that are ahead of us, small businesses need to have two simple priorities: be resilient and maintain profit.”

Macneil says the Government has come out with a great package of measures to support businesses in the short term, but people shouldn’t rely on that continuing indefinitely.

“Small businesses need to take charge of their own destiny and despite what it may feel like right now, they actually have a lot of control over how they come through this,” he said.

“Often the hardest part for small businesses is knowing where to start and what can be done. The resources provided by Weather the Storm and their Getting Through programme takes a whole-of-business approach, providing plain English, step-by-step strategies to reduce costs and improve profit margins in a real-world way.”

In addition, members get the benefit of an entire panel of expert advisors, including Tom Beswick of Ingham Mora. For less than the cost of one hour with an expert, you gain access to advice and strategies across the entire range of topics covered in the programme including cashflow management, staff engagement, lease negotiations, sales generation and many more.

“Whatever the business, this programme will work, and it can be completed from the comfort of your home and at your own pace,” says Macneil.

Farrelly, business performance and change management expert, says they had an early opportunity to test their programme when a family member in Whakatane found her business in dire straits overnight after the Whakarei White Island tragedy and then the emerging effects of Covid-19.

“By February her revenue was down almost 50 percent and she was on a path to insolvency.

“Within days of completing the programme prototype, she had re-negotiated her lease, reduced her operating costs, agreed improved payment terms with her suppliers and restructured her team’s hours.

“These fairly straight-forward changes meant she could keep drawing a wage for herself and continue making her mortgage payments.

“Simply put, they saved her business.”

Macneil and Farrelly say if there’s one piece of advice they can give small businesses, it’s this: act now and take control.

Getting Through is available to any business in sole-trade or small business in New Zealand and launches in early April.

People wanting to find out more or to access the free available resources visit  https://weatherthestorm.org.nz/

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