Keeping track of rapidly evolving business requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak has been a real challenge for many small New Zealand businesses. Taupō-based bookkeepers The Admin Angels have been hard at work over this time, helping their clients navigate the Government wage subsidy application and the accompanying declaration, along with any impacts on employment agreements, payroll, and business practices. “During those first few weeks of lockdown many businesses were feeling pretty overwhelmed” says Heather Sumpter, joint owner of The Admin Angels. “Our clients needed to quickly access the Government wage subsidy as the lockdown was having a big impact on cashflow. Initially there wasn’t a lot of guidance available on eligibility requirements. We spent many hours working through the latest information so we could give the best advice possible. It was pretty difficult as things were changing on a daily basis” says Heather.
Heather and business partner Nic McCondach decided to offer much of this advice free of charge, due to the unprecedented circumstances. “It just didn’t feel right to charge our clients at such a stressful and uncertain time. A global pandemic isn’t really something you plan for as a small business” says Nic.
Prior to the outbreak the pair had implemented remote-working systems with all their clients. “Before the lockdown some of our clients preferred for us to work with them at their premises. However, we always thought it was a good idea to have a back-up plan just in case. Most things can be completed digitally now – we just ask clients to take photos of paperwork and send them through. Some of our clients have needed additional training and support, but most have adapted really well” says Heather. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on business cash flow, The Admin Angels are now looking to offer a new service. The team will be delivering training on bookkeeping fundamentals to help small businesses complete bookkeeping tasks in-house, reducing external costs during these challenging times. Eligible businesses can now apply for funding from the Waikato Regional Business Partner Network to help cover the cost of these new services. Nic offers some words of caution to businesses who are looking to pivot and adapt to the new COVID-19 trading restrictions. “A lot of businesses are looking at how they can re-invent themselves. However before investing in new infrastructure, branding and marketing, make sure there is a genuine market opportunity and that you will have a clear point of difference. You need to be thinking long-term about what your investment will deliver over time” says Nic. The pair also have some tips on managing business costs when cashflow is tight. “This is the time to really look at your financial reports and understand what they say about your underlying business. At a very basic level you need to make money before you can spend money. There aren’t many levers that generate cash in a business, so look hard at your larger fixed costs like rent, vehicles and staffing. You need to build a strong underlying business and make sure you have something left over for a rainy day” says Nic.