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WA Small Business – Living With COVID
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic over two years ago, the adaptability of Small and Medium businesses has proven to be one of the key contributing factors to whether they survive or close their doors. Throughout this period, different parts of Australia have had vastly different experiences. For instance, businesses in Melbourne have seen the longest lockdown restrictions in the world – where some businesses survived, but many others didn’t. Here in Western Australia, we are yet to experience the full impact of COVID in terms of public health crises and high rates of infection in the community, but WA Small Businesses have certainly felt its financial impact. So as 2022 rolls on and restrictions change, what does the future hold for the WA Small Business community living “alongside” the virus?
WA Small Business and COVID – The Current State of Play
It can be said with confidence that some industries are more heavily impacted by lockdowns than others, but we are currently seeing a much broader scope of COVID-19 side effects of than just those that are lockdown-related. Whilst there is much debate among Western Australians in relation to Mark McGowan’s Labor Government and their mandates, border restrictions, and preparation for eventually re-opening as a whole, WA has thus far been relatively insulated against COVID given our tough stance and geographic isolation.
With recent announcements in relation to the easing of border restrictions, the next question seems to be “how hard are we about to be hit?”. While the answer may not be clear right now, the difficult conditions with which we have been presented over the past 2 years means that now more than ever it is critical that business owners stop, reflect on, and review their business and its approach to dealing with COVID.
WA Small Business and COVID – What Might the Future Hold?
The goal posts around COVID do tend to keep changing as new strains and variants come into play and case numbers fluctuate, but the important thing is to plan for the future. The biggest COVID-related struggle currently facing the WA Small Business community is the severe lack of skilled workers ready to take on jobs. Hospitality and Tourism are two of the biggest industries currently reducing their trading hours or capacity limits in order for the staff available to cope with the demand. Now that COVID is rearing its ugly head in our community, consider what impact could this have on your business. Not only might you find a shortage in skilled workers, but if a confirmed case enters your premises you could see a reduction in your available workforce (spread or isolation/testing requirements) and potentially even the necessity to shut down whilst a deep clean is undertaken.
The best thing you can do for your business in terms of “living with COVID” is to be up to date on your obligations, have a detailed, written COVID management plan in place, and communicate regularly with your staff and customers, particularly if you were listed as a potential exposure site or one of your team tested positive.
WA Small Business and COVID – Useful Links and Information
COVID is a bit of a moving target, so keeping up with changes as they happen is crucial to safeguarding your business. The following links will take you to some useful information that all WA small business owners should be aware of:
- For more information on what is required for a deep clean you can view the advice from the State Government here.
- There is also a dedicated page on the Small Business Development Corporation site that provides COVID updates specifically relating to business – including changes in legislation such as the recent double vaccinated mandates, and Government Support. The link for this page is here.
- Should you need to seek advice on your employer obligations relating to COVID, particularly with regards to paying out leave entitlements, standing down employees, or paying wages whilst having to temporarily close, there are services available to contact. Note it is important that you are aware of what structure you operate under – Pty Ltd comes under Federal law and Sole Traders, Micro Businesses and unincorporated partnerships and trusts operate under the WA State Industrial Relations System.
- HR Consulting Firms: If you are a member of, or are paying for a HR subscription for your business, you can reach out to that provider for advice.
- HR Consultants: At McKinley Plowman, we have access to a number of consultants. Please Contact Us and we can point you in the right direction.
- Chamber of Commerce & Industry Western Australia (CCIWA)
- For individuals that are impacted by COVID (feel free to share this with your employees)
There are also regular updates to how contacts are classified and defined, protocols for isolation, and testing requirements. Here are some recent announcements from the WA State Government:
- High caseload measures for schools and childcare
- New COVID-19 protocols to commence in WA from Tuesday 8 February
- Mandatory registration of positive Rapid Antigen Tests
Next Steps – What Can McKinley Plowman do for You and Your Small Business?
At MP+, we have a team of business experts that are available to review your business in the short-term, and assist you with Business Improvement strategies in the medium- to long-term. A number of services that are currently being offered include:
- Software Review and Recommendations – improving inhouse efficiency and accuracy
- Online Accounting System implementation and accuracy review – are you enjoying the efficiencies that good online accounting systems can provide?
- Strategic Marketing Review – website, branding, social media, strategy
- Forecasting – while we don’t have a crystal ball, relating forecasts and budgets back to knowledgeable assumptions is a significant advantage for your business
- Financial Review – How does your Gross Profit compare with industry standards; do you have the ability to reduce overheads?
- Guidance on Government support available to your business and/or industry
There is no doubt about it, budgeting for a rainy day is extremely important in the current climate. If you are already a client of McKinley Plowman and would like us to discuss your options, please contact your client manager. If you are not yet a client, no problem – we are still available to offer assistance – please contact us and one of Business Specialists will get in contact with you. In closing, we’ll hop on a few relevant clichés – there is no time like the present, and we’re all in this together.
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