Friday, 13th March, 2020

Dear Member,
Well done, you are doing great!

Over the week I have spoken to 30 plus members personally to assess the impact of the COVID-19 disruption.  It is gratifying to see that most members have commenced their response to the sales downturn. The experienced business owners/managers who have been affected by the disruption are:

  • Responsively adapting their marketing and sales plans
  • Reducing key operating costs (labour, rent, inventory, leases)
  • Contacting key suppliers (including landlords) and talking to them about renegotiating trading/payment terms where appropriate
  • Contacting their business banking relationship manager and discussing ‘what-if’ scenarios with them (I’m doing ok now, but what cashflow/capital assistance might be available if this is still the case in three months)
  • Contacting their outsourced IT and network support companies to discuss IT continuity plans (planning for extended periods of staff needing to work remotely)
  • Reviewing business continuity plans, health and safety, insurance and sick leave policies
  • Keeping close to their accountants, lawyers and HR advisors and keeping good financial records

Not started? Act now

If you have NOT started adapting in your business or do not feel that you or your staff have the necessary skills to guide your business through this downturn it is essential that you seek help now. Do not wait until it becomes a problem.  

  • Your accountant should be your first port of call. This is an essential expense in a struggling business, don't try and save money here. Any approaches to lenders, landlords or key suppliers for debt support will be better with a clear and reasoned plan prepared by you and your accountant. It is the end of the financial year for small business. Your accountant will also help you think about which financial year you wish your problems to show up in. 
  • Ring your business relationship manager at your bank - make a time to talk to them about your business (not just your loan). If you think you don’t have one, it is just because you have never spoken, they are there. Pick up the phone. 
  • The government will shortly increase their business training and consultancy assistance available through the Regional Business Partner programme nationally. More details will be announced shortly, however registering with this programme now, if you are in need of help, is recommended. There is no cost to this, just call Tara Druce on 021 216 6543 or register on
  • Connect a Business Mentor. We have a talented pool of mentors operating in the Otago Region and we can match you with the right mentor to support you one on one. If you are interested in this support please contact Cara Bradley on 027 253 8137 or email
  • Ring me and I will talk over your options with you. 

SURVEY - Help us seek and target government assistance for business support on your behalf

Working with our colleagues at the Otago Chamber of Commerce I would like to ask you to fill in the following survey to assist us get a better picture of the help required in the business community, so that we can better seek and target government assistance.  It will take no more than three minutes to complete. Click here to start:

Our thoughts are with the families of the 51 people who were murdered on 15th of March in Christchurch. May peace be with them.

Have a good weekend.

Anna Mickell
021 488 709

Anna Mickell
Chamber CEO