As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to alter society in unprecedented ways, it has become evident that, while necessary, the steps being taken by government officials to minimize the human lives lost will result in a severe economic contraction. What is unclear is the scope of those costs. Federal, state and local governments have already and will continue to implement unprecedented policies to deal with the disease and economic fallout it has caused. Here, we will identify areas that private companies and individuals should consider in lessening the impact on our businesses and employees over the coming days and months.
Consistent communication with all stakeholders creates stronger, more flexible relationships which in turn make it possible for us to work together. Start by leveraging your existing relationships with advisors, suppliers and customers. Then be on the lookout for new relationships, as turnover is inevitable during times of crisis.
- Think through multiple steps in the supply chain no matter what product or service you provide. This is important because, we more than ever, are an interconnected society. Nothing in our economy is isolated.
- How could this impact our customers and our customers’ customers?
- How could this impact our suppliers and our suppliers’ suppliers?
- Where you can afford to help customers by extending credit do so, but in a prudent manner.
- Get creative with the products and services you provide – can you do something for your customers at a lower price point to maintain relationships and their continuity of business?
Protect your employees by assessing who can and should work remotely. Technology allows great flexibility to perform most tasks from any place with an internet connection. Utilize these resources. If possible, send as many people home as your business model allows, even if your business is deemed essential. Further, create a strong system of communication to make sure each individual is aware of the situation. Then, they can let you know their status.
Determine how the economic stimulus bills in congress will impact you and your employees. Review MWB’s summary at https://mwbpc.com/families-first-coronavirus-response-act/. Additional stimulus is expected soon, so look for additional information from MWB when details are available. If possible, get your taxes filed sooner rather than later – payments are deferred to July 15th but this will provide clarity on cash needs in the coming months and if you are due a refund, it will be processed at filing.
The most important thing a business can do right now is to be prudent with cash.
- Maintain liquidity in a time of great uncertainty.
- If you are not in a secure cash position, hold off on investments in new products, employees, infrastructure or locking into new contracts.
- Be proactive to establish and/or expand financing instruments by either working with your current bank or looking elsewhere to more non-traditional and creative partners to secure capital.
- Both Missouri and Kansas have been granted eligibility by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to allow for small businesses and nonprofits in the state to apply for low-interest disaster loans for working capital.
- Bank regulators announced that they will ease certain restrictions that borrowers might normally face when seeking loan modifications and pledged not to criticize lending institutions for working with borrowers in response to the pandemic.
- Postpone or withhold dividends except for what is needed for tax liabilities to maintain flexibility.
- If needed, develop a plan for laying off or furloughing employees while helping them get available governmental support.
- Don’t hoard cash or other goods but ensure you and your organization have what is needed to survive.
Moments of crisis create moments of opportunity. For some, this opportunity will come in the form of showing leadership to diminish the human, emotional and economic toll. For others, whom are fortunately positioned, it will be the opportunity to invest back into the economy and society in a time of need by putting capital reserves to work to leverage financial return for themselves, partners, and employees. Grasping this opportunity is not a selfish act, but one of responsibility. It is our responsibility to minimize the economic contraction we are facing together.
Decisions should not be made out of fear, but it is prudent to identify worst case scenarios in order to be prepared. Ponder this, how many times in the last two weeks have you felt like you overreacted only to realize, if anything, you underreacted?
This is a moment unprecedented in our lifetimes. It calls for unprecedented preparation, creativity, flexibility, and leadership to pull us through.
We hope you and your families remain safe and healthy during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. If there is anything we can do to help, please let us know.
Below are links to other informative resources to help you and your business navigate these times:
How small businesses can apply for SBA disaster loans:
AltCap, a KC based Community Development Financial Institution offering loans for small businesses:
Tools for Assessing Risks
Scenario planning guide from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants:
Utilizing a Risk Heat Map to complete risk assessment:
Articles to Help You Brainstorm
35 questions for coronavirus planning:
3 ways to tackle the coronavirus’s economic risk:
Fraud and Cybersecurity Considerations
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency resource page
Be on the lookout for fraud during “disasters”:
How to Keep Your Employees Working Remotely
Tips to work effectively work remotely:
What’s needed for staff to keep working remotely: