By Brendan Taylor
When I landed in Milan there were 12 cases of coronavirus. When I left prematurely 16 days later there were over 11,000 infected with 900 deaths, and the country was shutting down. I got out with 5 hours to spare.
I saw all types of reactions.
- The schools shut very early but the kids were in the streets.
- In the north the restaurants stayed open but were quite empty.
- The locals were talking about it but quite bemused.
- There was no irrational panic buying of groceries.
- On my last day in Italy on a 4km stretch of beach outside of Rome there would have been close to 100,000 people, none wearing masks and showing no signs of anything unusual.
I expect now, 6 days later, with 24,000 infected and 1,500 deaths that they are a country in shock and hurting. The people are close, affectionate, and emotional. Their reliance on tourism is huge. They work hard and it seems they play hard. They are probably going to fall hard and take a long time to recover.
They are probably where we will be in a few weeks or months.
But, let me digress for a while and provide some other personal insights before giving some calls to action and some opportunities for you in business.
Self quarantine is not fun. And yet we are very fortunate. I have an amazing mum and friends providing daily coffee delivery to the mailbox. We have access to online food shopping and delivery. I have a phone, laptop and good internet. And the lifesaver is the ability to exercise at our small farm just out of town.
The downside is that it feels like detention (no disrespect intended to those in real detention). It messes with the emotions, especially the complete lack of social interaction.
As I expect many of you will also find yourself in self or forced quarantine at some stage. I suggest that you prepare yourselves. I don’t mean with toilet paper and pasta and rice. I mean with effective tools so that you can continue to function to the best of your abilities, and consider the emotional and social impact.
Back to the task.
Having time to think is a wonderful and yet scary thing. I have spent 5 days considering and writing notes on the impact on each of my clients’ businesses and industries. I haven’t limited this to all bad. There are some significant opportunities at play here.
The unsurprising discovery is the depth of the unknown, my complete inability to speculate how far reaching this is likely to be and for how long it might continue. Most of the ramifications are yet to be felt.
I considered all key components:
- What you sell
- Suppliers and supply
- Labour, especially labour
Yet the overwhelming message is so simple. Prepare.
- Spend some time to think about the potential effect on your business.
- Think rationally.
- Educate yourself about this situation. That which we don’t know we make up, usually putting a dark spin on it, and reacting accordingly.
- Be ready to move quickly. Fast changing times require swift, well thought out reactions.
- Consider alternative ways to get tasks done, which don’t require normal mobility. For example, working from home.
- You must have a policy on travel, quarantine, and leave entitlements.
- Communicate with your staff, especially if there is a likely reduced workload. There are options with annual leave, personal leave, leave without pay. Casuals need to be considered.
- Consider whether you have adequate supply of raw materials and products that you sell or use. Speak early to suppliers. Offer early payment to ensure supply. There are other options.
- Consider your customers. Give them a reason to choose you. Create a new point of difference, or an experience they cannot resist. It is time to go above and beyond.
- If things go quiet, then take the opportunity to get those rainy day tasks done. Sort out your policies and systems. Cleaning and maintenance. Get yourself and your staff some training. Call your bank and negotiate a better deal. This list is endless.
- And don’t forget the stimulus package. There is something in that for every business.
The main thing to remember is that we have your back. We are thinking of you. We are researching all the human resources possibilities. We are across the stimulus package. We are able to help you think through and deal with the consequences of the possible effects on you and your business.
Please call to discuss further
In the meantime, wash your hands, give a friend a slap on the back, stay positive and stay healthy.
With the expectation that the economy will be potentially taking a spiral downwards the government have announced on the 12th of March a $23 billion economic stimulus package as a response. The major headliners of this package are;
- Small businesses with less than 20 employees will receive over next 9 months up to $21,000 ($7,000 per quarter) per apprentice in wage assistance.
- A payment of up to $ 25,000 to businesses that employ people with a turnover up to $ 50 million. Payment will be delivered automatically via the BAS system and will be tax free payments calculated as 50% of your PAYG Withholding for the March quarter BAS up to $ 25,000 and an amount of $ 2,000 if you employ but are not required to withhold.
- A 50% wage subsidy for apprentices and training in businesses with less than 20 employees.
- Instant asset write off threshold will increase from $30,000 to $ 150,000 and be open to businesses with turnover up to $ 500 million. This will be from 12 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
- A 50% accelerated depreciation deduction over and above what businesses can already deduct in the first year will be available until 30 June 2021.
Pensioners & Concession Card Holders:
- Around 6.5 million Australians will receive an instant cash payment of $750 (Pensioners, health care card holders, all recipients of Newstart allowance, disability support payments, carers allowance, youth allowance, veterans support and the family tax benefit will receive the payment. Payments will begin being rolled out from March 31.
The government is resuming parliament sitting today to pass these emergency measures into legislation and allow the payments to start.