Stabilizing Your Business: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
Mar 24, 2020
With constant changes brought on by both the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other natural disasters, your business may be presented with cash flow challenges and opportunities you may have never faced before. To respond to these changes, look no further than a motto with which you are familiar: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. The slogan used by the United States Marine Corps outlines steps you can take to combat the challenges you are facing as you make decisions that will be key to the survival of your business.
Improvise (Internal Factors to Consider)
The process of turning profit into cash flow will be longer during a major business disruption. Develop your plan of attack by first determining expected profit or losses, and then be extra mindful of customers taking longer to pay you and vendors needing you to pay them faster.
What can your business do to generate revenue in a new way? Figure out what the market needs and see if you can meet a missing need. Identify underperforming products or services that can be suspended until market demand returns to support them.
Can you accurately forecast revenues in both the short and long term? Consider the duration of the revenue decline and how your customers are affected by the crisis. You should consider re-forecasting weekly during the foreseeable future.
Who do you need to protect? In a perfect world, you would like to protect all your employees. However, when faced with a crisis, you must make difficult choices. We have spent considerable resources in recent years to build our teams. You will need them even more as the economy recovers. Options include:
- Retaining only employees essential to the business
- Lowering hours to include combining roles
- Reducing wages paid
- Payroll tax credits for employer-paid leave
- Using family members to fill positions
- Monitor legislation for additional support to encourage keeping employees longer
What cash outlays can be delayed or eliminated? Carefully distinguish between needs and wants and consider:
- Deferring tax payments until the new deadlines afforded by the government
- Contacting your landlord and asking for delayed terms or abatement on your rent
- Cutting discretionary costs, such as advertising, travel, incentive compensation, and contributions to employee benefit plans
- Carefully analyzing all capital investments to include postponing routine repairs and maintenance
- Purging expenses related to segments of your business no longer generating revenue
- Reviewing all contracts for points that can be renegotiated to defer or reduce payments
- Canceling shipments from suppliers that have yet to ship and are no longer needed
Adapt (External Factors to Consider)
Do you need to negotiate payment plans with your existing customers? Now more than ever before, you need to understand how quickly your profits will turn into cash. Remember, your customers will be negatively affected by the pandemic as well. Any periodic payment will be better than none.
Vendors and Suppliers
Can you use the goodwill created with your vendors and suppliers to extend payment terms? Now is the time to use that goodwill you worked so hard to create.
Push back against vendors who are requesting payments to be accelerated or evaluate new sources.
Do you have access to the cash needed to fund your business?
- Ask for payment deferral for fixed-term loans — The banks have been given extraordinary support from the regulators to delay loan payments
- Are your lines of credit available and sufficient?
- Federal direct lending to small business will be an unprecedented opportunity — Details are still being developed, watch for more information
- SBA loan programs are available to help fund losses with up to 30 years for repayment
- Did your business have business interruption insurance for which it has a claim?
- Can you borrow against life insurance policies or redeem credit card rewards?
Overcome (Make a Plan)
Do you have a plan to overcome the crisis in front of you? Do you feel comfortable assimilating the information you have gathered to a workable plan? It is imperative to quantify your cash flow needs to make the best decisions.
No matter what you’re facing, you are never alone when it comes to your business. Engaging with a CPA firm can help your business by:
- Creating a working cash flow model for your business to run multiple planning scenarios that can be easily updated as conditions change
- Sharing examples of best practices of how our clients are meeting these challenges
- Helping you evaluate all funding sources to meet your cash needs and ascertain the level of funding needed to survive the crisis
- Evaluating your business’s ability to generate future profits to repay the funding required to get through the disruption
If you are unsure of next steps, or just need more help developing a solid plan for your business, be sure to reach out to your CRI advisor for more information or advice.
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