Stay positive and opportunities will come

The business community has been in pure survival mode ever since the full ramifications of the current pandemic became known.

It’s been nearly impossible for business owners to focus on anything other than the short term – ensuring staff can work from home, getting access to loans, and furloughing workers if needed.

But just like the whole world is looking towards a coronavirus exit strategy, businesses need to plot their own path towards recovery and growth.

It’s not going to be easy, but there are steps businesses can take now that will enable them to come out of this crisis stronger and ready to seize the inevitable opportunities.

Cash will be key to getting back to normal trading. For example, if you need to buy stock, producers and manufacturers are likely to need payment up front as they may not have the cash reserves to pay for raw materials and meet other production costs.

That could mean also asking your own customers for payment, or a larger part of payment, up front too where possible. Everyone is going to have to be more flexible and understanding.

This goes for chasing debtors too. Agreeing a staggered payment plan that enables you to get some cash into the business immediately may be a better approach than demanding payment in full which some suppliers will just not be able to make.

Good communication is key. Explain why your payment terms may need to change slightly and come to an understanding. Maintaining strong relationships with your customers and suppliers will help you make the most of opportunities.

It’s a good idea to keep reappraising your cashflow forecasts. This doesn’t need to be too detailed, but needs to cover different scenarios depending on how long lockdown and social distancing measures last. We’ve produced a Business Healthcheck Questionnaire that business owners can use to aid their planning.

Regular communication with staff will also be vital. You may need to bring some furloughed workers back sooner than others and you’ll want to explain clearly that this doesn’t mean workers who remain furloughed are not valued – it’s just part of the plan to get everyone back to work.

We’re living in a time of short termism, but don’t take your eyes of the longer-term completely. Having a plan, a bit of optimism, and a degree of flexibility is what will help businesses get back to where we all want to be.

Please read the blogs and publications on our Covid-19 Hub below providing guidance and planning solutions for our clients and contacts. We will be updating these daily as the ever-changing picture evolves, so please visit regularly and refresh your browser.