Survival Manual for Founders: Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis

We've conducted the Founders' Resilience Survey earlier to better understand the challenges that founders are facing, here we've prepared the insights, pointers and a range of available relief measures that every employer should read.

1. What are the challenges that employers are facing? How to solve cash flow issues?

Offline operations may not be feasible for some companies due to suspension by officials, quarantine of employees or with health and safety consideration in mind. Cash flow remains the top concern, with significant impact to retail and catering sectors in Hong Kong. Insufficient cash flow not only led to loss of profits but also affected the viability of business operations.

In response, some managers are temporarily setting up emergency teams to drive better customer values by connecting online and offline platforms. If cash reserves are insufficient to support the business in the short- to mid-term, then the priority is to reduce costs by renegotiating business contracts with parties including banks, suppliers and employees.

Examples of Hong Kong banks that have released relief measures to borrowers:

Standard Chartered
  • Financially burdened companies and mortgage borrowers can pay interest only on their loans up to a year, beginning on 1st March
  • Waive late fees on credit cards and fees on local electronic fund transfers from 1st March to 31st May
  • 50% subsidy for new applicants for the government-sponsored SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, capped at HK$50,000
  • Customers can again apply for an interest-only payment scheme and receive interest and fee relief for late payments by credit cards and personal loans
  • Relief loans up to HK$30,000 per person to support industries such as aviation, hotel and retail, which are some of the most critically hit sectors by the Coronavirus

2. What effective emergency measures can be taken now?

In addition to maintaining cash flow to protect the lifeblood of a business, founders and managers will also have to consider more enforceable measures to maintain the stable and smooth operation of the business, including business expansion strategy, seeking new profit growth points and balancing between investments and expenditures. Here are the top measures that founders are implementing right now:

Building a remote working system now will also benefit in the long term. This will require founders and managers to take the lead in making overall arrangements, such as effective communication across various departments and teams, smart remote online management, and reorganizing or establishing internal discussion and reporting mechanisms.

The government has rolled out a range of relief measures to support SMEs, here is a quick summary on the relevant measures:

  • Under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, a concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises, which 100% guarantee will be provided by the Government over an application period of 6 months.
  • Profits tax reduced by 100% for the year of assessment 2019/20, up to a ceiling of HK$20,000
  • Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and up to HK$1,500 per quarter in the second half of the year for each non-domestic property.
  • Business registration fees for 2020-21 will be waived; company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years.
  • Non-domestic household accounts will enjoy a 75% discount for monthly billed electricity charges, up to HK$5,000 per account; water and sewage costs discounted by 75%, capped at HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively

3. How to manage your team's health after resuming work?

Many companies are on their way to full resumption of work. It could be another tough battle to take prevention measures in the workplace and contain risks. Now more than ever, group medical insurance has become important as all employees are worried about how they receive health protection through insurance. As an one-stop solution provider, StartupCare Hong Kong offers SMEs a new form of digitalized group medical insurance that is equipped with following highlighted features to support you and enrolled employees in crisis as such:

  • Hospital Income and Cash Benefit: receive allowance of up to HKD 2,000 per day

  • Prescribed Medicine and Drugs Benefit (obtained at registered pharmacies): up to HKD 4,000 per year

  • eClaim: forget about the traditional paperwork and handle claims at ease


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