Helping SMEs recover in wake of Cyclone Gabrielle

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Aotearoa was rocked by an extreme weather event in February, with Cyclone Gabrielle leaving many Kiwis dealing with the aftermath of such an unprecedented and horrific event.

Many households and businesses were severely damaged, undoubtedly causing significant trauma and distress for those involved.

As we turn our attention to clean up and recovery in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, there are some things small business owners can keep in mind to help them get through and back in business.

Advice for small business owners:

1. Get in touch with customers and suppliers

No doubt there will be disruption to your day-to-day operation, which is likely to cause delays for your customers.

Proactively reaching out to discuss the situation will help get everyone on the same page when it comes to deliverables and working through the recovery in the near future.

Likewise, reach out to your suppliers to check in on how they fared and what sort of delays they’re facing when it comes to operating.

Having a grasp on this will give you the insight necessary to plan around any shortages or obstacles your business may face in the short term.

2. Government support schemes

In the aftermath of an incident like Cyclone Gabrielle, the Government can support the recovery with financial aid.

For example, the Civil Defence Payment could be an option to consider.

If your insurance is unable to cover the extent of the damage, there are opportunities to seek additional relief to get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

3. Take stock and plan ahead

Natural disasters are something we often don’t consider as part of our business plans until it’s too late.

Now’s the time to review your business protocols around natural disasters to ensure you and your employees know what to do in the event of an incident.

Creating a Civil Defence pack with important numbers and information would also be helpful, as well as regularly checking your first aid kits.

As we start to recover and rebuild, small business owners can take the lessons learned from Cyclone Gabrielle and investigate ways to mitigate the impact of potential future incidents.

For example, if your business was brought to a standstill due to the cyclone, what role could digitalisation play in helping you reopen and get back on track in the future?

Cloud-based tools and technology can help businesses operate during challenging times, like when we saw Kiwi small businesses embrace e-commerce in droves during the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020.

4. Look after your and your staff’s wellbeing

Events like this can be quite traumatic, especially if you or your employees have experienced major damage to property or belongings.

Taking care of your wellbeing – as well as your employees’ wellbeing – is so important in these times of hardship.

At Xero, we’ve extended the Xero Assistance Programme to all small businesses in the North Island, regardless of whether they are subscribers or not.

This means any small business owner, employee or their family in the Bay of Plenty will have access to three free confidential counselling sessions through XAP until Friday 31 March.

To anyone wanting to access XAP, simply message xap@xero.com.

Now’s the time to show support for your employees, as well as taking care of your own personal wellbeing.

Related: Xero: Passionate about helping small businesses prosper

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Bridget Snelling
Bridget Snelling
Xero New Zealand Country Manager

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