These are a number of tips and resources for small businesses should consider during these hard times with the COVID-19 outbreak.
1.) LOOK AT YOUR FINANCIALS & CASH FLOW
With many states being under quarantine and either shutting down or restricting, how long will your business be able to survive through lost revenue, employee absenteeism? You will want to look into your business’s cash flow and plan for a 6 to 8-month drop in revenue.
The best strategy would be to get a line of credit approved now, even if you don’t end up using it as it will be your safety net. Make sure to aggressively pursue your accounts receivable.
2.) PREPARE FOR A DISASTER LOAN
• Complete and assemble 2019 and prior year financial statements
• Start documenting and forecasting the impacts of the situation.
In the past, SBA disaster loans have required many forms, can be confusing, and could take 3-6 weeks before receiving money. For additional details, visit sba.gov/disaster.
Some notes about SBA Disaster assistance in response to the coronavirus:
• The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering small businesses low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital. Small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus(COVID-19) can qualify.
• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
• These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
• SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to pay.
• For additional information, contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 or visit SBA.gov/disaster for more information.
• Please call Chamberland Business Accounting at 401-765-1235 for help in gathering your financial information and applying for SBA assistance.
3.) COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE AND GET ONLINE!
Reassure your customers and staff that your business is taking all necessary precautions to keep your business safe and clean. Provide both your customers and staff with up-to-date information as often as possible and let them know they can reach out to you at any time. Communicate with them any changes such as hours of operation, delivery options, curb-side services, etc.
Take advantage of online platforms such as your company’s Facebook page or website to inform your customers of your operating status and how they are able to purchase your products or services. Utilize mass email platforms such as Constant Contact or MailChimp to communicate to your customers any new information; you can also use post mail for those who choose not to have an email. Make sure your business has a “Google My Business” profile with updated contact information.
4.) UNDERSTAND YOUR INSURANCE POLICY
Are you aware of what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t? Business interruption insurance is insurance coverage that replaces business income lost in a disaster. Business interruption insurance is not sold as a separate policy but is either added to a property/casualty policy or included in a comprehensive package policy as an add-on or rider. If you don’t have this insurance, it may be too late to help you in this emergency, but you should know what is, how it works, and how much it costs.
A government-mandated closure (hospitality business, for instance) most likely will enable business interruption insurance to kick in.
5.) LOOK AT YOUR SUPPLY CHAINS
Do you use a variety of vendors or do you receive all of your goods from one source? During a pandemic, supply chain management is crucial; you should always have multiple providers of essential resources of your business to ensure your goods will be delivered. To help possibly reduce costs, partner with another local business to share a vendor contract; it will make your order bigger and seen as more important as well as helping to cut down on costs.
6.) DEVELOP AN INCIDENT RESPONSE PLAN
Do you have any plans in place for your business during this pandemic? Look at your business model and evaluate if your employees can work remotely? Can you sell your products online? These plans need to be created, communicated, and implemented in your business.
Make sure your employees are properly trained and have an understanding of how to use any new technology before they are sent to work at home. You should also look into which services or programs can be temporarily shut down.
Go through all of your expenses and cut everything that you don’t need!
7.) PRACTICE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AT YOUR PLACE OF BUSINESS
It may seem silly to have to continue to tell your employees to wash their hands, cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing. But the truth is, habits are hard to break. Printing signs on your office printer can help as subtle reminders to your employees and customers to practice better personal hygiene-key to recovery from this illness, according to the public health experts.
8.) NEW PAID SICK LEAVE REQUIREMENTS
Starting April 1, businesses with ONE OR MORE EMPLOYEES must provide to any affected employees:
• Paid sick leave-2 weeks paid leave at 100% of employee’s normal pay, up to $511 per day
• Paid family and medical leave-additional 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave at 67% of normal pay, up to $200 per day (small businesses can apply for a waiver of this in some limited circumstances).
• Small businesses will get a tax credit to cover these costs
• Gig workers and independent contractors will get the same benefits in the form of a tax credit.
Gig workers/independent contractors: if you are paid by another company (e.g. a rideshare company, caterer, a worker platform like Upwork, another contracting company)., you’re eligible for a tax credit of up to 2 weeks sick leave at your average pay and 12 weeks of family/medical leave at 2/3 your average pay. The same caps apply-$511/$200 per day. You must show you had to comply with self-isolation or care for family members, including children whose schools have been closed due to the coronavirus. Tax credits will be applied against your tax payments, or you will get a rebate if your tax is lower than the credit.
Even if you’re not currently negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you could be in the future depending upon circumstances, or you could face another type of business interruption. If you are in this situation, use your time now to develop a disaster recovery plan.