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  • Writer's pictureCherie Larson

How Business Owners Can Survive in the Age of COVID-19 (And Beyond)

Here we are at the end of July. PPP funds are spent, sales have been up and/or down, costs are up, employees are on edge (or hard to find), employees are working remotely or adding extra steps to work in the office or store, COVID-19 is on the rise, and the future for most small business owners is uncertain.

None of us could’ve imagined the current state of things or that it would last this long. The only thing that is becoming clear is that the future is muddier than ever.

How do you cope as a small business owner - and what steps should you be taking now to lessen your risk and improve your chances of surviving and thriving in the future?

Cash Is King

Cash has always been important, but never more so than these past few months. Cash reserves have allowed some businesses to stay afloat that otherwise would have closed. It has kept employees on payroll and has provided business owners some breathing room to figure out the next steps. The best thing you can do for the future of your business is to build up as much cash as possible.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Sell as much as you can AND collect what you can from your clients. If they are struggling to pay, set up a payment plan. Even a little bit every week will whittle away at their bill, help your cash reserve, and help your client reduce their debt.

  • Cut your expenses as much as possible. What do you pay for that you can do without (even for a few months)? Do you need all of the vehicles your company owns? Do you need the space you’re renting (or own)? Can you move somewhere smaller? What about the software or subscriptions you’re not utilizing or could get along without for a while?

  • Are you getting what you’re paying for out of your employees? Are there employees that you should have replaced long ago? Are your employees doing the right job? Maybe this is the time to look at finding a replacement or changing roles within your company. Having the right person in the right seat is the most efficient way to operate. If business continues to drop, how can you minimize the impact on your employees while not hurting your company?

  • Set aside a portion of your cash coming in into a separate bank account – and don’t touch it! Save it for a rainy day (or season). Hopefully, you don’t have to touch it and can spend it on growth or as a reward for the owners at a later time.

  • Did you recently get EIDL funds? Set these aside for now (preferably in a separate account at a bank that’s not easily accessible). See if you can get by without using them. Having these funds in your back pocket can help you to sleep at night. Not spending the money can also give you a backup plan and a last-resort option if the next few months end up being worse than you had predicted.

Plan for the Long Term

Even though the long term seems more unknown than ever, spend some time planning for the “what-if?” situations. What if my sales go up? What if my sales drop off and don’t come back? What else can I sell that might be a new source of growth? Where would I like to be two years from now? In a perfect world, what would I need to do to get there? In a less-than-perfect world, what steps can I take to move in that direction? What do I need to learn to be better prepared for the future?

Plan for the Short Term

As business owners, we often create grand plans and goals reaching out years at a time. These goals are important to have, but things are very different now….and changing often. Know where you want to go, but start planning for the short term – this week, this month, this quarter. Regularly sit down and adjust those plans to meet the current situation. Don’t get discouraged that what you wanted to accomplish next month isn’t going to happen then.

We are all in a survival mode of sorts and just staying in place is an accomplishment. What does success look like to you now? Is retaining all of your current customers success…even if you don’t grow? Is being able to fund employee salaries for the next month a success? Start thinking differently as to how you succeed and what that means.

Get Your Books in Order

You can’t know where you’re at financially if you don’t keep up with your financial records. How do you know who owes you, what you owe, if you’re making money (or how much you are losing) if you’re not recording everything? It’s an important step to making good business decisions.

Find A Support Network

Being a business owner is hard. During these uncertain times, there are a lot of difficult decisions to make. While we think everyone else knows what they’re doing, the truth is they don’t. We can all benefit from the input of others…and sometimes just knowing others are facing the same challenges can help.

Sometimes we can solve problems as a group that haven't been solved individually. Find your tribe. Get a few other business owners that you are comfortable confiding in and talk…Zoom, coffee outside at Panera, picnic lunch at the park – think outside the box, but get the ideas and support of other like-minded owners.

Looking for a financial partner? Someone who can help you think through the financial challenges, get and keep you on track with your financial decisions, and assist in planning your business’ financial future? Give us a call or schedule a time to talk – we would love to hear from you!


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