With small business owners preparing for COVID-19 restrictions to ease across parts of the country, Commonwealth Bank today provided three top tips and key business insights to help SMEs plan for recovery.

CBA’s Executive General Manager Business Lending Clare Morgan said: “Each business is unique and faces its own set of challenges but there are some broad considerations I’d encourage every business to revisit ahead of Australians being able to move and shop around again.

“In recent months, we have reached out to millions of our business customers to offer support and hear about the issues being faced,” Ms Morgan said.

“Through these interactions we have been hearing some common questions and talking to businesses about key considerations they should be thinking about. The three key ‘musts’ are: doing a regular review of your expense base, being aware of and accessing the support options available to you (from your bank and government measures), and considering your businesses’ outlook.”

Review your expense base

  • We know employees are the biggest asset for a business – it’s important to have open discussions about the needs of the business.
  • Experience from previous lockdown has demonstrated how rapidly business activity can resume following the conclusion of the lockdown. Maintaining connections with, and support for, staff during this time is a key element of businesses’ ability to bounce back quickly. You should outline these plans with staff.
  • If you are facing difficulty meeting your rent commitments due to reduced revenue, speak to your landlord.
  • If you have business or personal loans, speak to your bank or other lender about support available. CommBank is actively supporting its customers with a range of options such as repayment deferrals, waiving fees and charges (including for merchant devices), customised payment arrangements and tailored support packages.

Access Support available

  • CommBank customers can access Benefits Finder in the CommBank App or NetBank, a free service which identifies benefits such as rebates and grants that you may be entitled to.
  • We are continuing the take a leading role in the Government’s expanded SME Recovery Loan Scheme (SMERLS) by helping SMEs access funding at low rates and on flexible terms. 
  • We recommend reviewing the Financial Support Guide to understand what options may be most relevant.
  • Commbank has a broad range of coronavirus support measures available.
  • We are making payments simpler for eligible small businesses by automatically routing transactions, and waiving $7 million in merchant fees before Christmas for businesses hardest hit by COVID.
  • Non-financial support for owners can be equally critical. CommBank has access to free counselling for its business customers, and recently partnered with prevention-focused mental health not-for-profit Smiling Mind to offer a series of wellbeing webinars.

Consider your business outlook

  • Having considered opportunities to reduce your expense base and additional support available, many businesses have identified opportunities for new revenue sources.
  • Incorporating technology in your business is more important than ever. Consider whether you are happy with your online presence, whether there is value in better using cloud services in your business, and whether there are apps that could help you run your business more effectively, such as Vonto.
  • Customer engagement through digital channels has become increasingly important. Businesses have started or increased their focus on websites, eCommerce and social media as a means to stay connected with customers and generate ongoing sales. Commbank has partnered with ecommerce platform BigCommerce to help businesses build and grow their online presence.
  • Some businesses have chosen to ‘pivot’ and launch new offerings. For businesses selling products, this often involves an emphasis on ‘Do-It-Yourself’, takeaway, and contactless delivery. For service businesses, this pivot often involves recordings, or delivery via phone or video.
  • Working capital and cash flow need to be carefully managed. Consider opportunities to optimise by looking at payment terms, supplier relationships, international currencies, and opportunities to unlock value in outstanding income you are owed. Also consider Stream working capital, a cash flow solution for businesses.
  • If you have concerns about the ongoing viability of your business, consider your options and obligations in relation to insolvency. Australia’s small business insolvency regime has changed during Covid and you can learn more here.

If you need any support, CommBank’s 24/7 Australian-based Business Financial Assistance team is available on 13 19 98. Further information is available online: www.commbank.com.au/supporting-business