The effects of the coronavirus are far-reaching, impacting people and businesses of all sizes across the globe. Only a few short weeks ago, macroeconomic indicators seemed stable with positive business and consumer sentiment. Much has changed since then. To say the events surrounding the coronavirus have been disruptive may be the understatement of the new decade.
Many business owners, both locally and nationally, have been severely and negatively affected by this pandemic, while many wonder when this virus’ impact will finally end. Fortunately, for business owners impacted by COVID-19, help looks to be on its way at last. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the “CARES Act,” will provide much-needed support for business owners in the form of loans, guarantees, tax deferrals and other support. While this help will provide much needed relief for business owners locally, this is only a short-term benefit.
No matter the situation your business is in, below are steps business owners can take to help it survive this difficult stretch:
- Keep your loan current: If you have a business loan, it’s important you keep your loan current. It may make an important difference for business owners seeking access to relief lending programs.
- Cash flow: Understand your cash flow, what lines of credit and lending options you have as well as taking advantage of applicable business insurance.
- Execution & planning: Business owners should continue to focus on execution and planning. The first priority should be to successfully operate the business over the next several months. Implement business continuity plans to safeguard employees, customers, suppliers and all stakeholders and work to ensure there is limited disruption to operations.
- Reforecasting budgets: Reforecast short-term budgets and long-term financial plans regularly, maybe even as often as weekly. Understand any liquidity constraints the business may have and take measures to shore up financing and insulate the business in the event of a drawn-out potential economic downturn.
- Focus on cyber security: You’ve likely implemented a remote working environment. Remember important items like cyber and data security, including the actions of your employee’s spouses and children, as well maintaining a strong work culture while social distancing.
- Leverage technology: Use technology to your advantage and throw out old paradigms that are quickly changing given a new reality.
- Managing business transition: For business owners who were about to start a process to monetize their business through a Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) process, the world may now look suddenly very different. Once the business is stable and management capacity is available, re-evaluate pre-M&A planning work.
For years to come, potential investors will be evaluating operational and financial performance of businesses during this period in order to measure the cyclicality and overall resilience/risk profile of a business. The “right” course of action for each business is unique, but your management team will also be measured on how you navigate this environment.
To the extent possible, track any coronavirus related impacts on your business and expect that at some point you may need to explain in detail how and why the business performed the way it did during this period of disruption. Also consider tracking “exceptional” events like contract delays, customer order cancellations, overtime costs, sick leave, supply disruptions, elevated transportation costs, etc.
Additionally, it is important to review the CARES Act, and determine what assistance opportunities are available for you. For instance, the Paycheck Protection Program program, which is part of the Act, provides forgivable loans related to COVID-19 for small businesses and certain nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees that have been affected by the pandemic.
Matt Hansen is a senior vice president at UBS Financial Services in Rancho Bernardo.