Offers and updates in Covid-19 conditions

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Last Friday, I was one of the presenters in the Tourism Industry COVID-19 Survive- Recover-Thrive webcast for the tourism industry. It will remain online for the next 7 Days and can be accessed here.

A lot of great tips were shared by the presenters to assist business owners and managers to navigate through this difficult time. As we all said, it is an ever-evolving situation, in Australia, as it is elsewhere. Already just two days later, we’ve had a major change to our operating environment. As of this week, if you deal with the general public, unless you are an essential service, you will probably not be able to operate.  Please keep checking for updates with your local, state and federal authorities on a daily basis. Your chamber of commerce, local council or tourism association may also be able to provide you with some guidance.

These times can be very lonely for business owners, and it is great to be able to provide support when we can.  That business advice that could be the difference between businesses failing or succeeding is so crucial right now.

From the outset, your health and wellness is important. I mentioned daily meditation, if meditation is not your ‘thing’, I suggest you take a daily nap. On a regular basis throughout the day, take time for wellness. In high stress, your adrenals are working overtime, naps and meditation, take time to sit and look at nature, or perhaps a walk in the garden, or local park, are all ways to reset and return to calmer levels.

A consistent theme with presenters was “we are all in this together”. You can work with your local industry, your competitors can be your allies at a time like this.

Here is a summary of some of the tips that I shared, as well as some of the offers of support that I made:

Cancellation policies

You are within your rights to enforce your usual cancellation fees, but bear in mind we are in extraordinary circumstances. Consider that you can offer a credit for a future booking.  My suggestion, as a goodwill gesture, is that if the client requests it, then you would offer a refund.  If you don’t already have a Force Majeure policy in your terms and conditions, this would be a good time to review that and add one in.

What income is due to you?

Once you have dealt with the immediate cancellations and processed any refunds.  You can then determine what monies are still owed to you.  Make contact with your customers, send them a statement, so that they can reconcile with your accounts.  Remember, we are all in this together, your customers are navigating their way through extraordinary circumstances also.  If they are not in a position to pay you in full, immediately, you might consider offering them a payment plan.  You are better off receiving some payments, over a period of time, rather than none at all.

What bills do you need to pay?

You will also need to do the same with your accounts payable.  Reconcile the bills that you owe.  With the same consideration that your suppliers will be wanting to get payments in as soon as they can.  Are you in a position to pay those straight away?  If you can pay them as early as possible, I am sure that will be appreciated.  If necessary, you may work with your suppliers for you to pay on a payment plan.

A reminder that you are required to be solvent to continue to operate as a business.  This is not be taken as financial or legal advice, but if you are unable to pay your bills ‘as and when they fall due’ then you are technically insolvent.  You can make arrangements to avoid this occurring.  That could be by accessing the current government support, working with your bank to defer loan payments or access new loans, or adding capital into your business.  Note, due to special circumstances, there have now been some temporary changes to insolvency laws. Update on 23 March 2020:

 The Corporations Act is being temporarily amended to protect corporations from potential collapse. Key measures include:

•          Statutory demands: Increasing threshold from $2,000 to $20,000 a creditor can issue a statutory demand to wind up a company. Companies will have 6 months to respond to such a demand (previously 21 days);

•          Bankruptcy proceedings: Increasing threshold a creditor can initiate bankruptcy proceedings from $5,000 to $20,000;

•          Insolvent trading: Relief for directors from personal liability when the company is trading whilst insolvent; and

•          ATO: Will be more flexible with clients including temporary reductions/deferrals of payments or withholding enforcement actions including Director Penalty Notices and wind-ups.


Can you reduce hours for full time/part time staff?  You may need to pay sick leave for staff that are unwell. Consider the option of staff taking annual leave. With the announcements over this weekend, the government has increased the incentive to keep staff on by paying 100 per cent of PAYG withheld on salaries (with minimum and maximum amounts).  Do your sums, are there staff that can have tasks reallocated to work on other things?

For any staff who need to be let go, make sure that you provide whatever they need to access government support payments as quickly as possible.  With the updates on the weekend, there has been an increase to the Job Seeker allowance, which will help employees needing to access this support. Reassure your team that they will have first priority to return when the business is able to operate again.

**Update 14 April. Since publication of this article, the Australian government has now legislated a JobKeeper allowance. This may help pay your own wages and wages for team members who can be reinstated. See the ATO website for details and check your eligibility.

Business operation

We’ve already determined that if you are a tourism activity, it is likely that you are not able to operate, certainly not in your usual way.  Are there ways that your business can operate in an amended version?  Home deliveries, online services?  Please keep checking for updates with your local, state and federal authorities on a regular basis to ensure that you are adhering to regulations.

It is difficult to try to estimate how long these closures will be for. Currently the lockdown on businesses in Victoria now goes until April 13, but this is likely to be extended beyond this date.  For the Tourism Industry, if we take the Qantas grounding as an indication, at this stage, the international fleet has been grounded until the end of May.  That’s not to say that it won’t be extended, but we need to consider it will be for at least this amount of time. In following the steps we’ve mentioned here about reducing your operation, or hibernating your business, you need to factor in that it will be at least 2 months with reduced or no income.

You might offer some incentives for bookings later in the year, like Early bird offers (I prefer value add as opposed to discounted rates) for people who book in advance.  Also, gift certificates or travel vouchers.  Reach out to your database with an offer to purchase one of these options, and add these offers to your online booking system if you don’t already have them.

The Australian Prime Minister keeps mentioning building a bridge.  If you imagine that you are at Point A and you need to get to Point B which is the other side. How long is the gap? What it is that you need to get there?  A reminder, if you are considering taking on debt with a loan, that you need to consider the ROI on this.  How many bookings in the future, will you need to repay this loan?  If it doesn’t make business sense to borrow this money, you will need to seek other options. Make sure you’ve also looked at local, state, federal grant options, these are usually tax free and don’t need to be repaid.

Forward planning

If you are able to keep staff on, or you may do this on your own, here is an opportunity to use this time to work ‘on’ your business.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Create or refresh your Marketing Plan so you are ready for implementation when you can restart
  • Content marketing – you can keep engagement with your customers through social media, there are a lot of fun things you can do to keep in touch with your customers.
  • Update/create staff training tools (look at Loom, Zoom and Youtube as options for creating instructions/training)
  • Update/create procedures manuals
  • Identify or review your Core Values
  • Review your Risk Management Plans, do they need to be updated with the understanding of managing a crisis like this?
  • You may have a list of tasks that you haven’t ‘gotten around to’. This may be the perfect time to work through that list.

Will your business survive?

The brutally honest assessment is that some businesses will need to close permanently.  If your business was already struggling, this impact may be too much to endure.  Ensure that you follow the steps that I’ve mentioned above to help you to determine your situation.  Having been through a business closure before, we were well established after operating successfully for 15 years, but were impacted by a string of events, including the GFC. In any case, I can tell you that there is life after this. You are not a failure, you will have many more opportunities in your business life.  I definitely learned a more about business by going through the process of closing a business, especially about contracts and clauses and why they are important. This has made me a much more savvy business person, and allows me to provide strong guidance for my mentor clients in how to structure and create strong foundations for their business operations.  In the Webcast I mentioned, there may be alternatives, look to your competitors, consider that options like a merger may be a solution.

Look after your health and wellness

Even though you may be feeling a lot of stress and concern about your business, you as a person are okay. If you are healthy, then you are okay. Look after your mental and physical wellbeing as a priority.  Seek help from a health care professional if you are struggling. You can visit your GP to access a mental health plan, which is covered by (partially or fully) Medicare. As I mentioned above, meditation or naps, time in nature are essential. Another suggestion that has helped me through difficult times, is to practice your “3 Favourite things”. Do this for yourself and with your family each day at dinner. If you are on your own, you might make a pact with a friend to send your 3 Favourite Things to each other by text at the end of each day.  The favourite things can be simple, watching a bird through a window, having a nice piece of food, spending time with family, having a good friend who supports you.  It helps you to refocus your thinking on the things that are positive.  Even on the darkest days, there is always things to be grateful for.  Some people like a Gratitude Journal, where they write down the things that they are grateful for each day. A quote that I like to refer to is “This too shall pass” and it will. Put it on a post-it note on your fridge if it helps.

My special offers of support

As I mentioned in my presentation. I have created a few business mentoring options which may help people navigate their way through the current circumstances.  My usual rate for 1:1 mentoring is $2500 per month, for one session a month and ongoing support, this is a 12 month commitment.

I am offering a discounted one-off Business Continuity Mentor Session to provide guidance with plans; the Marketing Made Easy template so that people can use the time to prepare a marketing plan if they don’t have one, or to refresh an old one. I will put my Core Values Training online, which is available for purchase at a tiny fraction of what I charge for a workshop. I will re-open my Group Mentoring Program with a first month free (usually $97). For anyone who feels they have no option but to close permanently and would like to discuss that, I am offering a free Business pre-closure session. There is a limited amount of these available and are on an application basis.  If people could consider to only apply for that if that is where they truly believe they are now, for those with cashflow/capital they may consider the Business Continuity Session.

See details with links below:

Business continuity session – $550

If you are wanting a mentor session to provide some guidance on how to navigate through this difficult time. Sessions are conducted via Zoom. This special price is limited to one session per person/business. Book a session here.

Marketing Made Easy – $47

Booklet and template to help you easily create your marketing plan for only $47. Access Marketing Made Easy here.

Core Values Training – $97

Online training to help you understand and create the core values for you and your business. Available from 25 March for $97.  Click here to register here.

Group Mentoring – one month free

Usually $97, one free month if you join now. I will be focussing on activities to help us navigate this challenging time.  After the first month, you can decide if you want to stay at the $97 per month rate, or cancel with no fees. You can sign up here.

Pre-closure chatfree of charge to accepted applicants

Only a few sessions available. This is a free of charge mentor session. If you feel that your business will need to permanently close and you would like to discuss. It is by application basis you need to complete this survey and I will make contact to advise if a session is available for you. This session is to provide guidance, and not to be taken as legal advice. To apply, please complete the survey here

Wellness on Time

If you are wanting some wellness activities that you can do at home.  Here is an option through my business Wellness on Time – 28 Days of wellness – $1 per day = $28 – you can see details here: Wellness on Time

If you have any queries, you can contact me by email here: [email protected]

We are all in this together, and I am happy to offer support where I can. Reach out through one of those options if you would like assistance.


Natalie Pickett

Entrepreneur, Speaker, Mentor

Natalie Pickett is an serial Entrepreneur from Melbourne, Australia. She is a sought after speaker and mentor who helps people to grow their business and achieve their own best level of success.