Ballarat's Stuart Benjamin has been appointed chair of the state government's Small Business Ministerial Council, the timing of which he described as a "hell of a challenge".
The committee's role is to provide "direct and unfiltered" advice to the state government on behalf of small businesses and chambers of commerce across the state.
Mr Benjamin, who will remain chairman of Regional Development Australia's Grampians region, said urgent action needed to be taken in as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens.
"Our job is to make sure that both the state and federal government is acutely aware that small businesses in survival mode - it's not stimulus, it's survival," he said.
"With the largest proportion of people being employed by small business, and with small business accounting for nearly 98 per cent of all the business done in Victoria, it's a pretty significant sector.
"We need to keep those businesses alive and employing people."
He said the council had already made submissions to state and federal politicians.
"Make no mistake, government wants to help," he said.
"They are absolutely focused on supporting small business, and it's our job to make sure those interventions are as effective as they can be - quite frankly, it's about bang for your buck, how do we get the biggest amount of return for what we're investing."
He said anyone in strife should get in touch with their local chamber of commerce - Commerce Ballarat here - and financial advisors, who will know which benefits and supports are available.
Importantly, staff need to know what is happening.
"Be open and honest," he said.
"People are not silly, they know it's tough, and they know we're all at risk.
"If you have to take your staff from being five days a week to three days a week to save your business, have those discussions right now - it's not fair on them, and it's not fair on your business."
Mr Benjamin said the only positive was that it was an "all-encompassing" crisis, with no one sector singled out.
"It's a matter of getting your business, and your team, through the next six months, then we'll have the biggest boom we've ever seen," he said.
"That's the light at the end of the tunnel - get through six months and you'll survive anything."
For more information on COVID-19 visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus or phone the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice if you are displaying symptoms.
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