COVID-19 update: The Government has announced a mandatory code of conduct for commercial tenancies. You can find this information and stay up-to-date on the latest support for business on our coronavirus page or by calling 13 28 46.×

COVID-19 - What small businesses can do now

Time: 0

COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on small businesses. Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell talks about some of the things small businesses can do now to help their business stay afloat during this difficult time.

Ms Carnell talks about the importance of doing a cash flow budget and talking to your suppliers, bank, landlord and the Australian Taxation Office about payments. It is also the time to consider staff and what they can contribute to your business.

Create or update your business continuity plan

A business continuity plan documents the steps you need to take to keep your business running and your cash flow coming in.

Our emergency management and recovery plan template steps you through the process of creating a solid, well-structured continuity plan tailored to your business. To help you complete the emergency management plan template we’ve also provided:

Get expert advice

Consider talking to a business adviser to help you through the process of business continuity and recovery. Use our adviser search tool to find an adviser in your area.

Review your finances

Help for individuals

If you are in financial difficulty, free support is available at the National Debt Helpline. You can speak to a financial counsellor to get advice.

See the National Debt Helpline's guide on steps to take and where to find support for individuals.

Set up a cash flow statement

A cash flow statement tracks all the money flowing in and out of your business. In these challenging times, it can help you identify a reduction in your cash flow early.

Talk to your creditors

Speaking to your creditors can help prevent late penalties and give you details on the hardship provisions they have.

Your bank may be able to help you in a number of ways including:

  • deferring loan payments
  • waiving fees and charges
  • helping with debt consolidation

Create a budget

Creating or updating your budget will tell you how to direct your money to where it's needed most and help you to:

  • prioritise any debt you have
  • make business decisions
  • get finance

Learn about tax support

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is providing relief for certain tax obligations for taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, on a case-by-case basis.

Check if you're eligible for government financial support

The Australian Government has announced measures to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Customer rights during COVID-19

Whilst this is a difficult time for businesses, your customers are still protected under Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACL, as administered by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) and your local state or territory protection agencies, is there to ensure consumer rights are protected.

Handling customer cancellations

Many businesses are receiving cancellations for product orders or services due to cancelled events, travel restrictions or self-isolation.

These may include:

  • travel cancellations and changes
  • event cancellations
  • gym memberships
  • wedding cancellations

The ACCC will be updating their information on consumer rights regularly as new guidance is available.


Businesses are free to set the prices of their products or services. Neither the ACCC or your local state or territory agency have roles in setting prices.

But the ACL does protect consumers from unconscionable conduct by businesses. This means you shouldn't exploit customers, especially if your product or service is critical to health or safety.

Whilst there isn't a precise legal definition for unconscionable conduct, you should always ensure that your conduct isn't so harsh that it goes against good conscience.

Stockpiling and price-gouging medical products

To ensure that protective gear and disinfectants reach those that need it most, the government has used emergency powers to update the Biosecurity Act 2015.

You now can't sell a range of medical personal protection equipment (PPE) items for more than 120% of the price they were bought for.

If you do, you risk a fine of $63,000 or 5 years in jail if you do not surrender the goods to law.

The essential medical PPE include:

  • disposable goods such as face masks, gloves and gowns
  • goggles, glasses or eye visors
  • alcohol wipes and hand sanitiser

The measures are not designed to affect normal consumer buying of goods, commercial imports and exports, or other bulk sales.

Set yourself up for remote working

If you need to self isolate or work from home, there are free tools and resources to help you on the Australian Business Continuity website.

This support includes a range of remote communications, collaboration, workforce management and video conferencing solutions for business continuity that can be accessed on any device at any time anywhere.

If you are planning on using web conferencing to communicate with your staff remotely, the Australian Cyber Security Centre has information on how to select a web conferencing solution and use it securely.

Exporting advice

If you export goods or services, stay up-to-date on the latest advice and global insights.

Find webinars and events for advice

Find webinars and events that can help you gain information and skills to support your business during this time.

COVID-19 infection control training

COVID-19 infection control training is a 30-minute online training module for care workers. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 including:

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • signs and symptoms
  • keeping safe – protecting yourself and others
  • myth busting