As we move into a 3-week period of stronger social distancing measures laid out by the government, it is pleasing to see all our teams fully operational, positive, determined and nicely collaborative.
Many of the business owners I am interacting with are seeing this as a 3-month initial gameplay. Taking important steps now and over the next couple of months can be crucial to ensure you come out the other side in a positive position.
Step 1: Assess cashflow and the financial robustness of your business
- Financial forecasting the next few months, running scenarios of 30%, 50% and 70% of usual revenue. How long can the business survive with lost revenue, while keeping overheads the same?
- How can you boost cashflow? VAT payments can be easily deferred until April 2021, while HMRC also reportedly seem happy to defer 3 months of PAYE/NICs even though this wasn’t mentioned in the government initiatives. The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan from the British Bank will be available via whoever you bank with or have a CID / IF facility with – while it is interest free for 12 months keep an eye out for personal guarantees and what this means. The government grant scheme of 80% of employee wages up to £2,500 is an excellent one if those employees are genuinely redundant due to remote working set-ups or business forced closures and not actually able to work / do their usual role as effectively. Once furloughed however, the employee is not allowed to work for you. So it’s not as relevant for many businesses that need employees to generate sales / assist sales teams. It will give businesses in certain industries an option however to potentially ride out the next couple of months.
- While cashflow assistance/loans are well received, many businesses are naturally assessing their profitability, as they will need to come out of the other side with a more productive business than they had at the beginning of this period which ultimately has an ability to repay this assistance.
Step 2: Ensure remote working environment is as productive as possible
- We are a highly resilient industry and employ creative, resilient, determined individuals who have the skills to find new opportunities. Ensuring a collaborative remote environment with constant communication, recognition of great work and sharing of outstanding ideas are all things that will inspire a group of people collectively.
- While I’ve seen several collaboration tools used to good effect in recent times (Trello and Slack have been popular), I have found Microsoft Teams works well (channels, chat, video, can have multiple teams/divisions set up to oversee collaboration) and I believe they are offering this for free for 12 months.
- Keeping L&D going is also important. I saw a great piece of training in action with Zoom which has interactive whiteboards within the tool, private rooms and group rooms to make training a great experience.
Step 3: Ensure your teams and business are getting ready for the bounce-back
There is no hiding from the fact businesses will suffer a decline, and while the larger economy will no doubt not bounce back immediately, many businesses absolutely will do.
The next 2 months is a time to be ensuring you are strong in the markets you want to be, you are building up strong personal and business brands in those areas, while taking time to assess weaker areas to see what impact there is likely to be.
Communicating verbally with our clients (existing and new) to share our market information, being creative to find them solutions, offering advice on hiring plans and what other companies are doing, are all fundamental to building mutually beneficial relationships that will last well beyond these tougher times.
For many smaller businesses it will be about survival. Having been a start-up ourselves, trying to find our feet through the financial crisis of 2008, we know how challenging a squeezed marketplace can be. Happy to discuss ideas further with any business owners/leaders out there that would like an honest chat around the things we are doing as a business currently. Important we all work together and share some good ideas to get through these next few months in stronger positions!