This afternoon we learned that on Tuesday, 28 April, New Zealand will be moving to Alert Level Three, beginning the slow return to something resembling normality, after a total of five weeks in lockdown at Alert Level Four. Government is also currently projecting that we will need to remain at Alert Level Three for an additional two weeks, from 28 April through 11 May. If we weren’t thinking of it before, we certainly all realise now that our new normal and new reality will look completely different from the one we had before lockdown – that much is obvious. The only other obvious and constant thing about the current situation is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is one thing businesses are used to dealing with. Yes, this situation is unexpected and unprecedented but the same business planning fundamentals apply.

Business plans, by their very nature, are based on uncertainty. No one can predict the future; however, it is vital to have a clearly articulated plan and strategy, albeit a fluid one, to communicate with your team, customers, investors and debt providers. We’ve developed a framework to help you navigate these uncertain times.

Over the next five days, we will cover off some practical measures you can take now to help you prepare for what’s coming next, whatever that might look like. You will be bombarded with so much information at the moment but this series of articles will use local industries to give you some much needed context.

Here are the five topics we will consider:

  1. Reaffirm: Situation Analysis. Understand the new environment you are operating in.
  2. Reality Check: Do a business stock-take. What are you working with?
  3. Refocus: What can you do better or differently, and what changes do you need to make?
  4. Reset: Define your new strategy. Where to from here?
  5. Relaunch: Put your plan into action. What you need to consider.

Before you begin to work on a plan, have you explored all the government initiatives to support businesses affected by COVID-19?

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy is to support your business if you're impacted by COVID-19, and face laying off staff or reducing hours. The COVID-19 Essential Workers Leave Support is available for essential businesses to pay their employees who: can't come into work because Ministry of Health guidelines recommend they stay at home, and they can't work from home. Here’s a handy guide with everything you need to know about applying for the wage subsidy.

The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme and the Insolvency Relief package are two other initiatives that could help prop up your cash flow in the challenging months ahead. This article explains how you can qualify for a government-backed loan or a debt hibernation agreement.

Cash is king at the moment and if you want to apply for any of the above, it pays to work through your cash flow forecasts for a minimum of six months or 12 months if possible, before applying for any support. It would also be prudent to run forecasts based on the different scenarios and the likely impact of the different alert levels.


If you’ve done all that you can do to keep your business afloat past the lockdown, the next step is to assess your current business model. Is it still fit for purpose? Start by examining and reaffirming (or rejecting) your overall purpose — why are you in business?

For example, a building company’s ‘why’ might be to provide the client with a smooth, painless experience and a home they are proud of. They do this by managing the design, build and procurement process, managing costs and expectations, and engaging with the client throughout the process. The end result is a great affordable home for their customer.

Hopefully by articulating this, you can assess which aspects of the business are impacted by the current crisis and what changes need to be made. Now test some assumptions and strategies that underpin how you do business. This will help you prioritise what is important and identify what you can and can’t control.

  Yes No Unsure
On-going initiatives
  • Tender for new residential development
  • Social media campaign

Big strategic choices
  • Buying land for house/land development
  • Purchasing vertical business
  • Setting up a design team



Supply chain
  • Reliance on European kitchen benches
  • Support local trades

  • Borrowing facilities
  • Structure and value of securit
  • Pricing models – adding premium

Client engagement
  • One-on-one meetings

Situation analysis

Situation analysis refers to a number of methods used to analyse your internal and external environment to understand your capabilities, customers, and business environment you’re operating in.

There are many variables in the current environment and businesses must plan for multiple scenarios.

For example, how will your business be impacted now that we have an additional week at Alert Level 4? How does that change once we move to Level 3 at the end of April? What happens if the country has to return to lockdown for an additional two, four or more months? What will happen to your business if the international borders do not open until the end of the year?

The below matrix designed by McKinsey & Company gives you a big picture view on how you can visualise where your business might fit in the spectrum.

Where do you fit? A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis can help you work through different scenarios. It helps you identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition and your new reality. Test your assumption against different scenarios.

Don’t wait to start planning for the future until perfect answers present themselves as they’re a rare commodity at the moment. Start now.

You need to ask yourself some hard questions and this is something we will explore in more detail in tomorrow’s article ‘Reality Check’.

Business & Commercial Set-up & Structuring