March 27, 2020Share:
At Wilkins Miller, we are hearing from many of our business clients who are being confronted by complex issues they’ve never seen before due to COVID-19. As a small business, we are also facing many of the same challenges. However, in the past several weeks, we have learned that one positive outcome from this situation has been the opportunity we have all been given to learn from each other and to learn how we can all do business even better and more efficient once we are on the other side of this crisis. With that in mind, we’d like to share the following 10 recommendations for protecting your business in the coming weeks.
1) Stay calm and don’t panic – Business owners and leaders must remain composed, in control, and make well thought-out decisions.
2) Maintain and control your cash flow – What changes can be made to limit expenses? Defer 2019 and first quarter 2020 estimated income tax payments to July 15. Take advantage of tax credits for employee sick leave or FMLA leave due to COVID-19.
3) Staff Plan – create a plan that maximizes your team’s ability to “stay in place,” until such time that we can resume business as usual. This may include maximizing Unemployment Benefits, working from home, rotating partial work schedules or paying out PTO (earned, unearned or advances). When creating your remote workforce plan, consider this list of questions developed by Wilkins Miller IT.
4) Talk to your lenders immediately – We expect the options here to be expanding once the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is enacted. Ask if you are an “impacted business.” As an impacted business you may be eligible for SBA backed loans (see below) or a period of interest only on your conventional loans. Consider talking to your business lender about interest only payments, lines of credit or other options to increase access to short-term capital.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Small businesses owners in Alabama and several other states are now eligible to apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLS). We understand small businesses affected by COVID-19 since the beginning of January 2020 are eligible to apply. Although the application is straight-forward, it does require a high level of detail that some business owners may not have readily on-hand. If you are considering submitting an EIDLS loan application, we strongly encourage you to contact your banker, attorney, or CPA for assistance.
For additional SBA business guidance and loan resources, please click here.
5) Stay in contact with your customers – Find ways to keep them engaged with your business so that you are “top of mind” when business returns to normal. Use email campaigns, social media, your website, and updates on your exterior signage.
6) Talk to your suppliers/vendors – Discuss options for short-term financing.
7) Assess your long-term marketing plan – Consider using this time as an opportunity to strengthen what you do to market your business. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic you will want to be more attractive than ever to your customers.
8) Be aware of cybersecurity issues – Be diligent with all cybersecurity issues, such as applying software patches, stringent password policies, and employee training programs. With increasing remote work, pirates are expected to attack. Be aware of email phishing scams. If an email request seems out of order, call the person sending it to confirm it is authentic. We are already seeing this occurring as our firm has received several bogus emails containing “invoices” to be paid.
9) If you aren’t IN, be ON – If you can’t work IN your business, consider how you might work ON your business. Things to think about may include:
a. People. Consider long-term changes in your staffing.
b. Process. Consider implementing changes in how your business processes its product or service.
c. Product. Determine if you should add, delete, or change your products, services, or menu.
d. Make changes to your business model.
e. Implement a budget to improve your business once some normalcy returns.
f. Perform deferred maintenance on your facility.
10) Don’t go it alone – Consult your Wilkins Miller advisor for help with important decisions or to act as a sounding board. Beyond tax planning and return preparation, we are business advisors and can help our clients effectively navigate this time of uncertainty.
We are Here to Help
While we have implemented workplace adjustments to align with recommendations for physical distancing, please know that our team continues to work hard for you every day and we stand ready to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to support you and your business during this unprecedented time.