COVID-19 Startup Information Pack

Thank you to our friends at Startup Dunedin for sharing these resources and to Mackenzie Dowson for her excellent work in creating them!

Table of Contents

  1. New Zealand Business Support Package
  2. Working Remotely
  3. Cash Flow
  4. Your Supply Chain
  5. Leave and Isolation
  6. Mental Health and Well-being
  7. Insurance
  8. Customers


New Zealand Business Support Package

This is uncharted territory. The past few months have seen devastating natural disasters in Aotearoa and Australia, and now, the global outbreak of COVID-19. The New Zealand Government has released a $12.1 billion package in response.

Who can access it?

If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy.

To qualify:

  • your business must be registered and operating in New Zealand
  • your employees must be legally working in New Zealand
  • the business must have experienced a minimum 30% decline in actual or predicted revenue over the period of a month when compared with the same month last year, and that decline is related to COVID-19
  • new companies who do not have financials for the previous year also have provision in the business support package
  • your business must have taken active steps to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 (See how you can work towards this one below)
  • you must make best efforts to retain employees and pay them a minimum of 80% of their normal income for the subsidised period.

For definitions of these qualifications, see the information under the ‘Definitions for Wage Subsidy qualifications

How much can you get?

The COVID-19 Wage Subsidy will be paid at a flat rate of:

  • $585.80 for people working 20 hours or more per week
  • $350.00 for people working less than 20 hours per week.

The subsidy is paid as a lump sum and covers 12 weeks per employee.

This subsidy is for wages only. It is to help you keep your staff employed while you consider changes that may be needed while the disruption continues, and to ensure the future viability of your business.


You apply online for either the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy or COVID-19 Leave Payment – click here for more information. 

When you apply you will need to provide:

  • your IRD number
  • your business name
  • business address
  • the names of your employees
  • your employee IRD numbers
  • contact details for your business and your employees

The Ministry of Social Development will be processing and approving applications as quickly as they can. They are aiming to make payments five working days after they have all the information they need from you – but this will depend on the volume of applications received.

If you need any assistance at all in getting your application complete, please do book into our upcoming webinar – Startup Breakfast Club – on Thursday, 2 April where we will have specialists walk through the application.  You can book a place here.

Other NZ Government Support

For more information about wage subsidies for business and assistance with the cost of self isolation leave click here.

In addition here are the links to the official government sites for advice on managing the impacts of COVID-19.

Working Remotely

Video Conferencing

We use Zoom. It’s really useful to still be able to have meetings with your team and check-in throughout the day.

An alternative for Gmail users is Google Hangouts.

Team Messaging

Try out Slack.

Instead of talking in person or cluttering each others inboxes with emails, chat on Slack. Slack is very user-friendly, private, and instant. It’s good for collaborating on different topics, and you can check in with each other on work progress, morale and mental health.

Project Management

Asana  is our go to for teams to manage their projects without being in the same room as each other.

We’ll be updating the tools listed in this section as we learn more.

If you haven’t worked remotely before, you might be surprised by how much you can get done with good discipline and online tools.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is the most common concern of business owners at the moment.

What are your projections? Do you have a plan?

You might want to sit down (or video chat) with your team and talk about the financial projections for your business. Make sure to adjust your projections for different scenarios. At the very least include a best-case, medium-case and worst-case scenario.

Make a plan for what actions you could take in each scenario. You can review your business against these projections at any stage and implement these plans at any time. Make sure to have a list of tasks that will need to be crossed off depending on what scenario you head towards.

It can also be worthwhile to talk to your bank once you’ve made these plans.

The government is advising businesses that they’re changing the rules around tax to help free up cash flow – and you could be eligible for some monetary support.

Supply Chain

COVID-19 is disruptive. You’re going to need to review your supply chain, and plan for different outcomes. You might not be able to get supplies from overseas sources, so it’s worth asking around now to see who you could find as a backup option. Having a little previous interaction with a local supplier could really help you secure that link, if sh*t really hits the fan. Ask yourself “what would happen if X”? There could be flow-on effects you haven’t considered yet, so get your thinking cap on.

Leave and Isolation

Your policies around sick leave are important right now. Have you reviewed them recently?

If any of your employees have been overseas recently, they’re required by the government to self-isolate for 14 days. You’ll need to account for that, and remember that the government has included these circumstances in it’s support package, so if you experience a 30 percent decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020, click this link to apply for some help.

Extra assistance from the government should help you keep afloat if you’ve got wages to pay and sick leave to dish out.

There’s a helpful and informative fact sheet on this topic here.

Mental Health and Well-being

Start with you

Stay open and communicate about how you’re feeling. Just as you’re preparing your business for times to get worse, make sure to take measures to look after your own mental health too. New Zealanders tend to have a “get on with it” attitude, it’s part of what makes us so hard working, but don’t neglect your emotional well-being and hauora hinengaro.

Lean on the Community

Ministry of Awesome will be hosting community events via Zoom to connect you all. There are also Facebook communities – if you’re curious in finding some, reach out anytime.

Your emotional and mental health is important. It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are some things you can do to feel better.

  • Reach out to your usual supports, like family and friends, and talk about how you feel.
  • Stick to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising.
  • Keep in touch with friends and family over the phone, or social media.
  • Keep active. Physical exercise is good for your well-being, look for online classes or courses to help you do light exercise in your home.
  • Wanderble has a fantastic “NZ Lock-in” meditation practice they are trialing for free.  You can register for that here.

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental well-being, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.


It may be a good time to keep your eye on your insurance policy. You should know what’s covered when it comes to business interruption and loss, who to contact about any issues you’re having, and when to contact them. Force majeure clauses are written for this very reason – so have a chat with your lawyer if you need to, and see what your options are.


How do you interface with customers? How do you communicate? Where are they coming from and what kind of marketing strategies can you employ to mitigate loss and keep things ticking along? Upfront communication about how orders may be affected is a good strategy. You should be proactive.

Authored by Mackenzie Dowson from Startup Dunedin with some edits from Ministry of Awesome.  Thanks again for sharing Mackenzie!