Smart Business Planning in Very Uncertain Times – “Business Unusual” and Actions to Take Now!
During the last few weeks, one of the many adjustments I’ve made involved finding a different way to exercise and manage my stress level. I have my daily walks with my long-haired miniature dachshund, Riley, but due to the difference in the lengths of our legs, he limits the distance. In the last week, I have started going solo for a long walk through the surrounding neighborhoods and have noticed that a lot of non-accountants who are “sheltering at home” have been doing landscaping or DIY construction projects. Friends and family tell me they have been decluttering or cleaning their homes. I recently commented to a client that I think that making order in chaotic times may give us a sense of calm over that which we can control. From a business perspective, perhaps planning for your business can do the same thing.
Though the US has never had quite this type of situation before, we can still apply some lessons learned from other types of economic, weather or other natural disasters to our planning and decision-making strategy for the next few weeks and months.
Start now by assessing the risks and the resulting impact on your business from this pandemic. Develop plans for various scenarios and determine those most likely to occur. Develop an action plan for each of those scenarios and begin to execute those plans. Communicate well with customers and employees. Continuously monitor and adjust your plans or “course correct” as the circumstances will likely continue to change.
In the assessment phase, a common theme is “How is this pandemic affecting your employees, your customers, your suppliers etc.?”
As you develop the scenarios for your business some are considering a “quick recovery” of 1-3 months from now vs. a ”global slowdown” that might last 3-6 months. We all might benefit from considering whether there are any novel opportunities for our business as well. Identify the “best case”, “worst case” and “most likely case”. For many, the “worst case” won’t happen but it’s still wise to have a strategy that could be employed quickly, if needed.
As you develop your action plans for the likely scenarios, consider needs to 1) maintain your cash, 2) increase your knowledge about the federal and state stimulus type programs that are available, 3) increase your line of credit, if possible and communicate with your bankers, 4) pay attention to the centers of influence/experts in your industry and 5) determine what costs to reduce, cut or defer. Consider both short term needs as well as long term reputation. Consider the health risks for your employees who may not be able to shelter at home and work productively at the same time. If one gets sick, who “on the bench” has the knowledge to pick up and carry on. I have heard the term “triage” in this phase of the planning – determine your most important activities – What is most important for your clients, employees and suppliers?
Monitor your results and adjust your plans quickly as the environment changes. Make the smart, informed decisions as best you can to shorten the recovery period for your organization.
We are grateful for the work of our elected officials who passed the CAREs Act and the bankers tirelessly working with the SBA to make the funds available to many who need them quickly.
We are so thankful for our employees, many of whom are working at home while caring for their young children and are still able to serve our clients when we are needed the most.
We appreciate our many loyal clients and please know that we are here to help.
And, finally, we have the utmost admiration for our healthcare workers, first responders, grocery and drug store employees, delivery personnel and faith communities for their work at this time. When you can, please thank them and their families for their service to our community.