Businesses are being urged to plan ahead for the end of JobKeeper.
Businesses are being urged to plan ahead for the end of JobKeeper.

‘Now is the time’: Business urged to get ready

WITH small business owners battling through tough economic times, some free advice wouldn’t go astray.

A number of organisations are calling on the Federal Government to issue targeted assistance in the form of vouchers for financial advice to help businesses survive.

The government-funded voucher system would ensure small businesses can access urgently needed professional advice on their viability once stimulus measures end in September.

The move has been backed at a local level by Business NSW regional manager Kellon Beard, who said while there were already a number of funding programs available, many dictated what it could be spent on.

“Having a voucher or a grant that will enable a business to obtain tailored information to assist their particular situation is a good thing,” Mr Beard said.

“Most business owners know their business and their customers really well, but they are facing a situation that most have never seen before, so any assistance is welcome.”

Mr Beard said many small business owners already had a strong relationship with their accountants, and in most cases they were those best placed to provide much-needed advice.

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And for those businesses looking ahead to September, unsure of how they will manage when JobKeeper ends, Mr Beard said it was critical they started a conversation now.

Coffs City Council GM Steve McGrath with Kellon Beard (left) regional manager Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber.
Coffs City Council GM Steve McGrath with Kellon Beard (left) regional manager Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber.

While the Federal Government was indicating there is more stimulus to come, there are scant details as to who would be eligible or what it would target.

“If a business is unsure about the viability when the JobKeeper funding finishes then they should be talking to their accountant and their bank now,” Mr Beard said.

“Now is the time to look at the alternatives that are available to them while the government assistance is still being paid.

“The Federal Government is promising more stimulus, but there is no detail as yet as to who will be eligible for this, or what it will target.”

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The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell is backing the nation’s peak accounting bodies, CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ, who had earlier called for the voucher system.

She said under the program a business owner (or their accountant) would apply for the voucher with services provided by a relevant accredited professional.

“This would ensure small businesses have access to expertise in judging business viability, so they can make an informed decision about whether to turn their business around or exit,” she said.

Kate Carnell
Kate Carnell

“The advisor would be paid directly by the government to the accredited professional up to the value of the voucher.

“Ultimately, we want to see as many small businesses come out the other side of this difficult period as possible – getting a tailored business plan is critical to their survival.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 900,000 businesses are getting JobKeeper and around 690,000 businesses have received emergency cash flow assistance.

“Two thirds of businesses were still reporting reduced revenue in June. Of those about a third were reporting revenue losses of 50 per cent or more.” Ms Carnell said.

“Small businesses with cash flow issues, compounded by falling revenue, may find getting the professional financial advice they need unaffordable.

“The ramifications of this could be devastating for both the business and its owner and family, down the line.

“That’s why our COVID-19 Recovery Plan recommends the establishment of a small business viability voucher program, where small business owners facing financial stress can obtain a voucher valued up to $5,000 to access tailored advice on how and whether to turn around their business.”