We are all facing a considerable level of uncertainty at the moment and for business owners in particular there will be a host of thoughts occupying your minds as to how to navigate the next few weeks or potentially months as the world battles against the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, we want to avoid any panic but clearly there are very real concerns for business owners. So we are pulling together our thoughts and learnings at this very unusual time to help you manage your business.
Community and communication is key
Business owner or not, no one really knows what is going to happen. That uncertainty has a huge impact on all of us but as a business owner you have to consider your business, clients, employees and of course yourself and your family.
Whilst no one has all the answers the best we can all do is talk (maybe via Zoom) to each other and where possible, support each other.
Whilst we may all be encouraged to isolate and distance ourselves from each other, it’s clear that to get through difficult times, community and communication is key. Yes, it might have to be through a screen for a little while but there is no doubt we can all help each other no matter the distance.
In the spirit of communication, speak to your team about how business may be affected. Can they work from home? As an example, one of our clients is sending specialist equipment to employees homes by taxi so they can do just that, even though at first they had ruled it out.
It may seem unlikely but are there any employees who might be willing to take unpaid leave? Don’t forget your freelancers too, they don’t have the same protection as employees but no doubt are a vital part of your team and you’ll need them when things get back to normal. Let them know how things are looking and discuss whether everyone can reduce hours rather than some losing out altogether?
Think about those jobs that never get done, if there is a real slow down what can the team achieve in terms of marketing and content or implementing new systems and processes.
Maybe even think about switching more to the cloud to help both now and in the future, should we ever be faced with something similar (let’s hope not). Check out the 25 brilliant apps we mentioned in our #Appvent calendar last year.
We’re lucky as a digital/cloud based business we can work from anywhere and we’re happy to discuss how you might get your business there too.
Speak to your insurer. It’s very possible you have business continuity cover that will provide some protection in these circumstances. It’s likely to be on a case by case basis and of course there may be some tough criteria to meet but if available could make a real difference.
If business slows down, so will cash flow. You’re likely to be faced with having to continue to pay costs without much money coming in.
It’s therefore important to make sure you have an accurate picture of what you are owed and what you owe. We use Fluidly, which integrates beautifully with Xero, to manage the cashflow of the businesses we work with.
Again communication is going to be vital. Make sure you’re paying things no earlier than needed but as a community we need to support each other, so if you think paying within payment terms will be difficult, talk to your suppliers and let them know. No doubt emotions will run high and a simple message may be all it takes to reassure someone.
When it comes to tax payments we have some details below on how the government are looking to help.
HMRC have launched a new helpline just for Coronavirus (COVID 19). The aim is to help agree payment plans, suspend debt collections and cancel penalties in certain circumstances. You can reach HMRC on 0800 0159 559. We suggest speaking with them as soon as you believe you may have an issue.
As announced in the Budget 2020, the government are creating a fund to support business lending to small businesses who suffer over the coming months. Funds of up to £1.2million will be available. We’re still waiting to see how and when businesses will be able to access them but it’s not expected to be for a few months.
Employers are now able to pay sick pay to those who are unwell and those who have to self-isolate without having symptoms. This is now available from Day 1 rather than Day 4. Further, this can now be claimed from HMRC for businesses with less than 250 employees (previously the employer had to suffer the cost in full).
Note this differs from any company sick pay policy that may be in employment contracts, so do check those too.
This is clearly a fast moving situation, surrounded by uncertainty. We will be monitoring it closely and making sure we update you as we learn more. If there is any further assistance we can provide to your business around cash flow management, or anything else please do get in touch.
As always, for the latest updates from us follow us on social media. We hope you all stay well through this challenging time.