When I started working with local businesses, I was shocked to find out just how alone many of our small businesses can feel and how tough they do it.
With the ongoing drought, bushfires and now Coronavirus, business owners are under immense pressure and are unsure of what the future holds.
The stimulus measures currently on offer are very welcomed by the business community, but this is a rapidly changing situation.
We are expecting our businesses to be responsive, adaptable and flexible, so we need all levels of government to be the same and introduce more assistance for business to ensure they survive this pandemic.
Additional measures could include business owners being supplied with a voucher to receive proper financial advice during this time - otherwise they could be making critical financial decisions without careful considered advice.
This also has an added benefit in that it supports another local business in the Central West. We will also need industry specific rescue packages because different industries are being impacted at different rates.
Most of our jobs in the Central West, if not all of them outside of government, are created by smaller businesses.
Around the country as a whole, one out of every two Australian workers is employed by a small business.
That's why it's so essential that we all support each other now to ensure our businesses get through this time, sustain employment and keep our local economies as strong as possible.
To the business owners, the important thing to remember is that you do not need to go through this alone. We encourage you to meet with your local accountant or business advisor to get advice.
Now is the time to understand your current financial position and cashflow situation and if it is becoming increasingly more difficult, please talk with your landlord, suppliers, banks, utility providers and ATO about restructuring payments and payment terms.
Business NSW have posted guidance on our websites for business owners, including advice about your obligations as an employer and how to best manage situations relating to enforced leave, working from home and other legal or human resources issues.
These are being constantly updated as the situation changes. This advice, plus the links to the stimulus packages for business from the State and Federal Government can be found our website www.businessaustralia.com
As each of us is a customer in this region, we all have an obligation to do what we can to keep local business ticking over.
Our businesses are putting all the necessary precautions in place to look after the safety of their staff and customers.
So, where possible and following guidelines, keep doing what you normally do like buying your morning coffee or purchasing your meat from the butcher. You just may have to order it online or via the phone or do meetings via video!
In particular, we urge the stimulus funding recipients to spend the money with our local businesses.
If you are looking for other ways to help a small business, then don't forget that most of our retailers have gift card options that can be purchased online. I've just purchased a gift voucher for a family member's birthday from the local adventure retailer.
And finally, it's so important to share your support for our local businesses online via social media and this can be done by liking, sharing or commenting on a post.
The important thing to remember is that we may just have to do things a little differently for the near future, but this will pass and everything we do now as a community will help put the Central West in the best possible position to move forward on the other side.