Surviving COVID-19: Business Owner Checklist

ChecklistWe have received an excellent checklist by our friend Matt James from North Canterbury Business Services.

This checklist provides business owners with key points and is helpful and concise.

Please note: these topics have many parts that are constantly changing. For example, the wage subsidy and reducing pay to 80%: This needs to be negotiated and not unilaterally imposed by employers.  We will be updating this checklist as changes occur.


  1. Paying Staff:
    • Apply for Wage subsidy – it may take time to come through.
    • You are no longer obligated to top-up to 80% if not financially viable.
    • If staff are able to work from home, 80% pay does not mean only 80% work.
    • Expect some push-back and disquiet from some staff. This is often due to ignorance of the scheme and general situation.
    • Be human; talk compassionately to staff. Communicate clearly (backed up in writing) and in a timely way.
    • Be patient and considerate (these are all v worrying times) but the general principles of employment law still apply. Get professional advice if disputes arise.
  2. Payment holiday: Check if your Life & Trauma Insurance supplier has a 6 month fees holiday scheme which allows cover to be maintained.
  3. Mortgage options: Check with your lender/advisor for specific advice, but options may include:
    • Payment deferral (“holiday”)
    • Term extension
    • Changing to Interest only
    • Restructuring
    • RefinancingThere are pros and cons to each of these options – so get clarification.
  4. Property Lease options: Contractual clauses such as “No Access”and “Force Majeure” may oblige your landlord to revise your monthly payment to a “fair proportion” due to the Government imposed closure. This might reflect an office space effectively becoming merely a storage unit due to the lockdown.
    Seek legal advice if you need to go down the “formal” process but start with a friendly discussion with your landlord. It may save legal fees.
  5. Supplier Discounts: Ask for discounts
  6. Cashflow: “Cash is king” – Cash availability is essential for you to buy you groceries. Look to extend your cash cycle, i.e.:
    • Cash out: Ask supplier for extended payment term, and
    • Cash in: Offer a “early payment” discount to customers
  7. Payment of Tax: A complex matter best discussed with your accountant. However, the essence (and key point) is that you will no longer have interest applied to late/non-payment of Tax (GST and Terminal Tax) by the IRD for the coming period. Do make sure you still file your GST Returns on time as that legal obligation remains.
    However, don’t be stupid nor irresponsible as a business owner/director … it will likely bite you on the bum later!
  8. Cost Cutting: Review your budget (Business and home) to determine what is “essential” and what is “nice to have”.
  9. Client Retention: A few options:
    • Look after your clients where you can, e.g consider a COVID-19 Level 4 Discount whilst we are in lockdown.
    • Keep communicating with clients but absolutely avoid spamming, e.g I truly no longer care about Hannah’s shoes daily COVID-19 update … I have unsubscribed to their mailing list!
  10. Don’t panic: Don’t make rash decisions nor be paralysed with fear. Keep yourself well informed and remain open to (and expect) significant changes in your business/home world. Ask for a second opinion, critical review of your situation … probably not your mum!
  11. Getting help: Funding may be available:
    • Using the Regional Business Partnership (RBP) scheme, Enterprise North Canterbury (ENC) and Christchurch Employers Chamber of Commerce (CECC) have a limited Government budget to provide 100% subsidised support to businesses. This support covers a range of smart advisors … including me and my wife Belinda!
    • The maximum funding is $5000 and RBP acceptance criteria apply. Get in touch with ENC/CECC if this is something of interest.

Remember the only constant is change – we’ll try and update this checklist as significant changes occur.

Stay safe, and stay at HOME!

Matt James Matt James
Head Business Coach
North Canterbury Business Services