By Lyndsey Hall
Right now we’re all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, facing an indefinite lockdown period, sales and cash flow may be dwindling to a worrying level, and many businesses are unable to continue operating at all. If your business hasn’t been directly affected, then your supply chain may have been.
It’s a challenging time for all of us, but you’re not alone. We wanted to offer some ways in which your accountant or business advisor can help you and your business to get through the financial struggles you’re facing at this time.
Not only will these suggestions be relevant right now, during the coronavirus quarantine, but they’re areas of your business that you can focus on in any period of uncertainty, such as a country-wide economic recession, or an industry-specific downturn.
Before we dive in, the final thing we want to say is that we’re here to help you, whatever the circumstances. We’re always available for an informal chat about your business, whether you want to discuss your finances or your hopes for the future.
That being said, here are a few ways your advisor can help you through uncertain times:
Look to the future
You’d be forgiven for thinking your accountant only deals with past figures – you send your statements and receipts over and they produce a summary of money that you’ve already spent. But we can also look into the future with cash flow projections based on your past and current financials. You can do this too, and probably already do, but with everything going on right now you may not be producing accurate figures for an economy impacted by a global pandemic.
Using specialist forecasting software, we can help you to get a short or longer-term impression of your business’s finances and support you through any decisions that that may lead to regarding funding and strategy.
Apply for funding
If you’re unsure about how to apply for finance, your advisor can help by completing the applications for you and acting as a liaison between you and your bank manager. Most accountants have a large network of contacts across the finance and professional services industries, so it’s likely your advisor and bank manager already know each other and have worked together on funding applications for other business owners in the past.
You’re busy enough right now just trying to keep your business alive, staying in touch with your staff who may be working from home for the first time or on furlough, and worrying about the health of your loved ones, you don’t need the added stress of researching and applying for the many grants, loans and schemes open to you. So let your accountant do it for you!
The only thing you need to do right now is provide your advisor with your information for 2019-20, as any lender will need up to date financials in order to process an application.
Survive, in order to thrive
Unfortunately, the time may come when some difficult decisions have to be made about how your business needs to proceed in order to survive, and your advisor will be with you every step of the way. It’s unlikely any business will come out of the current situation completely unscathed, so if you’re concerned about how your business will continue to operate in these uncertain times there are a few questions your accountant can help you to consider:
- What is your projected future turnover?
- What are your essential costs?
- Could you reduce staffing at all? (Consider the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme before making any decisions about redundancies.)
- Do you still need physical premises, or could you move to somewhere smaller or less expensive? (The Knowles Warwick Business Centre has serviced office space available if you’re thinking about downsizing.)
- Are there any other costs that could be reduced?
Your advisor will help you to consider all of these areas and make the tough choices that may need to be made in order for your business to remain a going concern, which is of course the priority. You can always rebuild and grow once things even out, but only if your business survives.
Consider new opportunities
In any crisis, the businesses that thrive are the ones that identify the opportunity hidden amongst all of the threat. The breweries that have pivoted to manufacturing hand sanitiser, even going so far as to use spare beer bottles as containers; the clothing manufacturers that have switched to sewing scrubs and masks for NHS workers; the tech companies that have been able to offer the government a helping hand with reaching every British citizen with messages of the utmost importance.
These may all be temporary measures until the war against the virus is won, but some businesses may need to make a more permanent change in order to survive. You might be thinking about selling your business, or buying a competitor who is struggling and desperately needs a cash injection. Remember, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available for borrowing in order to buy a business as well as to support your existing business.
Whatever opportunity you’re considering right now, speak to your advisor before making any major decisions and they will help you to come up with a plan.
Your advisor has a newsletter? A blog you can subscribe to? Then make sure you’re signed up! If you’ve unsubscribed in the past it should be pretty simple to update your preferences and resubscribe, but if you can’t find a link anywhere then just pop them an email and they’ll happily update your account for you.
I can almost guarantee that your accountant is doing their best to keep you up to date with all of the government support available to business owners and self employed individuals who have been affected by COVID-19. They might have a dedicated page on their website that is regularly updated, they might be posting on social media and sharing every relevant article they can to help you stay informed. Their weekly email newsletter is probably dominated by coronavirus measures at the moment, and their blog is likely chock-full of useful posts about working from home effectively and managing your team remotely, as we all get used to the ‘new normal’. But you won’t know about all of this incredibly valuable content your advisor is producing to make your life easier if you don’t subscribe, register, follow and engage with it.
If you have questions about the available measures and how they could effect you going forward, pick up the phone or send an email. There are no silly questions at a time like this, we’re all learning as we go, and your advisor may have had another client ask the exact same question the day before, or they could put you in contact with someone who knows the answer.
Get in touch if you want to speak to your advisor about any of the above, or even just to chat about your concerns for your business and plans for the future, we love speaking to clients about their business! And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and follow us on Linkedin, or wherever you choose to spend your time online.