Small businesses make up the backbone of the New Zealand economy. COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown and social distancing has thrown even the best-laid business plans into chaos, leaving that economic backbone in need of support.

It takes a village

You’re not alone in this, so reach out for help and support. Get in touch with your trusted advisers, your bank manager, accountant, mentors or fellow business owners. Talking through problems with people from outside your business will give you a different perspective and could help clarify your options or opportunities.

Don’t forget your customers – and more importantly, don’t let them forget you.

Kiwis are keen to help each other through this, so get in touch with the people who buy your goods or use your services and let them know how they can support you – if you’ve set up a new click-and-collect or delivery system let them know. If you’re selling vouchers to try to improve your cashflow until you’re able to get fully up and running again, spread the word. Sites like sosbusiness.nz can help with this – it’s been specifically set up to help struggling businesses through the COVID-19 crisis, by making it easy for customers to buy vouchers for local enterprises they want to support. Information about how to get listed is on the SOS Business site.

Get online

In the age of click-and-collect, you've probably already looked at your website. Even if that's not an option you can offer, use your website to keep customers updated about what you're doing. Don't forget social media as well - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don't just look at your own feeds, see where else you can promote your business online. Chances are your local community will have a Facebook page or newsletter. Get in touch to see if they can feature your business, what goods or services you’re offering and how people can access them.

Look at national Facebook pages that are showcasing New Zealand business as well, like the New Zealand Made Products page.

Manaaki is another nationwide resource, offering an online support network of business experts and advisers to answer questions and offer advice.

Look local

Have a look and see what support local organisations are offering. Some of the many things on offer include: the Otago Chamber of Commerce and the Otago Daily Times have teamed up to start a local online business directory called dunedinstore.nz, Wellington NZ is offering online seminars about building business resilience, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce is offering a free business mentor for a limited time and, Te Waka, Waikato’s regional economic development agency is offering free online workshops and webinars, as well as Zoom or phone meetings with business advisors.

Have a quick Google and see what’s available in your area.

Kiwibank support

If you’re facing cash flow problems, let us know. Even if you’re okay at the moment but think you could run into problems as the crisis continues, get in touch. Together we can work out what steps we might be able to take to protect your business and help you through this.

The Kiwibank COVID-19 Relief and Resilience Programme offers a range of initiatives to try to support businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get a temporary overdraft, interest-only lending, defer repayments on any existing business lending for up to six months, or get early access to funds in Term Deposits or Notice Saver.

Get in touch to see how we might be able to help and which of these options might be suitable for your business. If you’ve got a business banking manager then contact them directly. Otherwise, fill out a business banking support form and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Government help

We’re also making new lending available through the government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme. These loans, which need to be repaid within three years, are aimed at meeting urgent liquidity needs to help you deal with the fallout of COVID-19. You can apply for a loan through this scheme by filling out our form.

The government also has a wage subsidy scheme for businesses to help you continue to pay staff if your business has been adversely affected by COVID-19. You can find full details about the subsidy on Work and Income’s website.

Stay informed

To keep pace with the changes and disruptions caused by COVID-19, it’s important to stay up to date with developments, news and what experts are thinking. This will help you understand what’s happening in the economy, how your business might be affected and what help and support might be available.

Our economists publish regular economic updates and reports, which you can sign up to receive. We also have a dedicated COVID-19 page for our business banking customers, which is regularly updated with information about the support we might be able to offer.

Any updates from the government will be on covid19.govt.nz and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment also has a page dedicated to COVID-19, which includes information for employers and small businesses. Business.govt.nz also has information on COVID-19 and guidance to help businesses.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has resources for exporters as they deal with COVID-19.