- Pivot your business, find alternative revenue sources and guard cash flow.
- Seek government funding and check you’re meeting all your legal obligations.
- Take care of your staff, customers, and most importantly, mental health.
The Covid-19 pandemic has derailed some of the best laid business plans and blindsided many business owners, who found themselves navigating a harsh business climate within weeks.
Although many are living through a time of uncertainty with no end in sight yet, the full economic impact of this calamity will not be known until months ahead. For now, most SMEs are looking at survival rather than growth, and this is where a business continuity plan is sorely needed. These are the areas you should be looking at in your plan, and what you can do about them.
1. Get a grip on your cashflow.
Cash is king in any crisis, and this one may require big reserves. Review your budget, forecast your cash flowcut, cut down expenses, sell off old inventories, chase up payments and do everything you can to ensure you can sustain the business for the next 6-12 months. Your accountant should be your best friend by now.
2. Renegotiate or consolidate your business loans.
Talk to your banker or broker as soon as possible. Many banks are offering loan deferment for up to 6 months or flexible low-interest loans to help with cash flow and manage debts, depending on your circumstances.
3. Talk to your creditors and debtors.
This can help give you some breathing space with cash flow. There is a chance that your creditors are stuck in a pickle like many others and will be more lenient and emphatic towards your situation. And try to bestow the same empathy to your debtors if possible. Always go to the negotiation table prepared with cash flow projections and the full financial picture.
4. Reduce your rent.
Several state governments have released a mandated code of conduct on commercial rent agreements, following the government’s call on this pressing issue. You should have already spoken to your landlords, even if your business is not severely impacted. It’s important to keep the communication lines open, should circumstances deteriorate for your business
5. Seek government funding.
There are cash grants, the JobKeeper wage subsidy, and government guaranteed loans for small businesses doing it tough. Throw in a historic low interest rate, extra tax deductions and state-based support, there is a horde of financial assistance out there for you.
6. Rejig your business model, products or services.
A crisis can bring a wealth of opportunities. Businesses that are flexible, stay nimble and agile are more likely to survive this storm. Look at what your clients or customers need right now. Many retailers have shifted their efforts on their online stores highlighting items people need such as home office furniture, toys, entertainment items and self-care products. Gyms and fitness studios are doing online classes, restaurants are doubling down on takeaways and professional services are doing everything online now.
7. Find alternative revenue sources
It’s time to get creative with income. Can you look for new partners to offer something your client or customer needs right now? Many businesses are in the same boat as you and partnering with the right company may give you a killer combo. What about new sales channels or target markets? It helps to survey your existing client database to get some ideas.
8. Hold on to your best customers.
Don’t lose the customer or client you already have. Figure out the best ways to deal with refund claims and delays, so they still feel like doing business with you after this catastrophe is over. Always communicate emphatically and honestly with them. Try offering discounts, payment plans, or subscriptions.
9. Manage your supply chain and logistics.
Discuss with your manufacturers, vendors and suppliers on current and potential roadblocks. Renegotiate orders and payment or source for local suppliers if there is a disruption. Don’t burn any bridges. Also, consider the odds of a logistical nightmare. Plan for different scenarios and come up with a contingency plan
10. Take care of your staff
While many are downsizing, you should try to retain your employees as much as possible, because you will need them at the other side of this pandemic. There are options to take. You can ask your staff to work reduced hours or use up their annual leaves. There’s also the JobKeeper wage subsidy to help with salaries, instead of standing them down or laying them off.
11. Stay on the right side of the law.
Get a lawyer to review all your contractual obligations with clients, customers, employees, suppliers and anyone you do business with. Ensure you stay on the right side of law and calculate any legal risks for every decision you make. This is where your legal department is invaluable or hire a top business lawyer.
12. Invest in the right marketing.
Your budget may be tight, but you should still focus on the few channels that will bear fruit for your business. Many people will be online, feeling bored, stressed and anxious at home, so investing dollars in online marketing and advertising may be a good idea. Speak to digital marketing experts on this, if you need help.
13. Perfect your technology mix.
Cloud services are now booming with people jumping on online meeting and working remotely. You need to figure out what works best for your business and choosing the right combination of cloud services and servers. Lastly, make sure you have a solid backup routine to avoid losing any work.
14. Heighten your cyber security efforts.
It can be as simple as using a VPN, installing anti-malware software on your employees’ laptops or using cloud services with encryption features. The important thing is to avoid dropping the ball on cyber security because you may lose money, reputation and precious work.
15. Be kind to yourself and safeguard your mental health.
Accept the situation and understand that everyone is doing it tough, so go easy on yourself. You are not alone. Speak to other business owners, take time out if you need to and just breathe when you find things to be overwhelming. Remember, there is no business without you, the owner.
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