There are a lot of business owners out there right now flipping their ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’. The scariest part is not the unexpected hiatus, but the fact that many of them don’t know if they’ll ever be able to flip it back to ‘open’ again.
With constantly changing information about the crisis, it’s hard to know what’s going to happen next or if that next announcement by the government is going to be the one that causes you to walk away. Despite all the uncertainty, there are strategic actions you can take to help stay afloat amid the pandemic until this whole thing is over.
These business-saving strategies include:
- Accessing government aid
- Putting practices in place to keep your business healthy even now
First, we’ll cover what’s available to you and your business, and how you can access the aid and resources currently available to you. Next, we’ll move onto some resources and information you can access to know what’s going on, if and how your business can function, and how to make sure you’re ready for business, post-pandemic.
Accessing government aid
The federal government has come out with a sweeping package to not only help individuals but businesses as well. But because the situation is still evolving, it can be hard to keep track of what’s available for your business.
So, let’s break it down quick.*
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
When work dries up, most business owners lay off their employees. After all, that’s one of the largest expenses for most businesses. But this can cause other problems down the road. For example, by running your business with fewer employees, the probable and very sudden bump you’ll see in business once the government restrictions lift can catch you flat-footed. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is designed to help you keep more employees by covering 75% of payroll expenses for businesses that qualify. For those that don’t, the previously released 10% coverage of payroll expenses is still available to collect as well.
The wage subsidy is:
- Available to businesses that have seen a drop in revenue of at least 15% in March and 30% in the following months
- Covers up to 12 weeks of payroll retroactive to March 15
- Covers 75% of payroll costs up to $847/week per employee
Extending the work-sharing program
The work-sharing program gives EI benefits to employees who agree to a cut in their regular work hours because of a lack of work that is beyond the scope of their employer – which includes COVID-19. This benefit has recently been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. This allows employees and employers to work together to maintain the integrity of business while lowering bills during this difficult time. To learn more, head over to Canada.ca.
Both the federal and Manitoba governments are offering to defer tax bills without charging interest. Businesses can leverage this by taking the money they’ve saved for taxes and using it to take care of bills and keep the doors open and ready for when business revs up again. Just be careful how you use this money, as the tax bill will come due in autumn. The new due date for business for federal income taxes is September 1. GST/HST that is due March 27 can be deferred until June 30, 2020.
The Manitoba Provincial Government has deferred tax payment for provincial income tax and corporate income tax to August 31 to keep step with the federal government.
Access to credit
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) are working with private lenders to ensure businesses can still apply for and receive loans during this time. For more information, head over to the Government of Canada website.
Furthermore, Ottawa is rolling out the Canada Emergency Business Account, which gives small and medium businesses access to interest-free loans up to $40,000. Business owners can apply for this loan through their own bank. This program is slated to begin mid-April when more information should be available.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Finally, for the self-employed, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit can be used to shore up funds until the worst is over. The benefit offers up to $2,000/month for up to 4 months for people who cannot work due to COVID-19, or those self-employed workers who have seen a 30% reduction to their income.
Info and resources to get you through the pandemic as a business owner
There’s more to it than just getting through. For business owners who are focused on their post-COVID-19 future, there are a variety of resources that will help you prepare your business not only to survive but to begin thriving once again!
One of the best ways to prepare yourself and your business for the repercussions of this pandemic is to be prepared for any opportunities that present themselves. That starts with the above government aid, but should also include educating yourself on how to best protect yourself and your business.
The Manitoba Chamber of Commerce has an amazing list of tools and resources you can use to keep up with changing requirements for businesses and try to work towards preparing your business for the inevitable return to the new normal, whatever that may end up being.
As the pandemic continues to cause havoc, there are a variety of things you, as a business owner, may want to consider:
Encouraging employees to work from home
Moving your business’s services online (if you can)
Working on your business during this downtime so you can come out of self-isolation stronger. This can include things like creating a stronger web presence, increasing brand awareness, looking over business expenses to re-budget, and more.
Maintaining your business during COVID-19
This pandemic may be the biggest obstacle your business will ever encounter. Familiarize yourself with all the support options that are available to you to give your business all the tools available to get through this.
For more guidance on how to tweak your business to ensure its success, call Bayview Financial and talk to one of our financial advisors today.
*This information is current as of April 15.