If you’ve been in business for over a decade, you have likely fought some terrible monsters in business before. Either way, buckle up because the recovery after this COVID-19 pandemic may take some time. If you haven’t already done these things, it’s still not too late.
1. Arrest cash outflows
- Write to your loan providers and request a full moratorium for 6 months on both principal and interest. This means the loan period will be extended. If they refuse, politely but firmly insist that you’re unable to meet that obligation and require additional time to get back to some kind of normalcy, hopefully. Keep in mind your credit score may be affected.
- Write to your Suppliers and request additional time to clear outstanding balances (but don’t commit to a timeline until you get a clearer picture, instead commit to a date to update them). The earlier the better.
- Write to your landlord and ask for rent to be waived during the COVID period. Or the very least discounted.
- Minimize all spending. Eliminate if possible.
- Barter your services for goods or services that you need.
2. Address Staff
Speak/write to your staff giving your best assessment of how COVID will affect business operations. Be honest and respectful. Be mindful of the labor laws. You may need to ask them to agree to:
- Work from home (some may require security protocols for accessing company information on their personal WiFi and devices).
- Take a pay cut.
- Be laid off for an agreed period to be assessed again.
- Work week-on/week-off (every other week).
- Take all outstanding vacation leave, starting immediately.
- Give special treatment, if you can, to those with medical issues or serious issues.
- Write an individual note to each employee during this period expressing your appreciation of them and encourage them to stay strong (google mindful leadership if you need to).
3. Protect Assets
Do a risk assessment of your assets:
- Move physical assets (equipment etc.) to a more secure location or better secure your current location.
- Check the extent of your coverage with your insurance companies. Now is a good time to review which policies you can’t count on when you need them (it could have been your bad selection, doesn’t matter, but you can change them going forward).
4. Milk cash inflows (as much as practically possible)
Remember cash is king, especially right now:
- What can you continue to sell right now? Stick to cash sales as much as possible, even if you have to give cash discounts. You need money in hand, not accounts receivable.
- Get innovative. If you’re tailor or dressmaker, consider making masks. Alcohol producers convert to manufacturing hand sanitizers.
- Digitize your products if easily convertible. There are tons of software to help. And affordable service providers like Fiverr.com.
- Offer COVID recovery packages to your customers (likely discounted).
5. Develop/review your Plan B (and C) and your Exit Plan
Look at your contingency plans. Do I need to change how I operate in the short-term (or even long-term)? If things come crashing down, what are my alternatives, or how do I exit this business in the most prudent manner? The worst-case scenario is that there is tremendous value in all the lessons you have learned, especially when you consider future ventures.
Finally, use this time wisely….for yourself.
- Take a free online course relating to your business or even a hobby.
- Get the rest that you have neglected for so long.
- Spend time with your family. No fussing. No arguments. Soon you may not have this time again.
- Keep exercising, your business is going to need you healthy and strong when operations fully resume. It will not be easy.
- Re-evaluate why you’re in this business and how does it add to your purpose and faith. Do you still have any fight left in you? You’re going to need it. No easy way out. Yet not impossible either.
Franklin McGibbon (@Biznivist) — Business Activist, Mentor, and Coach for MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises); CEO of Linkar Education; Publisher; Speaker.