There is obviously no foolproof way of approaching 2021, or a checklist of the things your business needs to do in order to thrive or survive. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen economic, consumer and market forces that require business owners to adapt.
Sound planning results in strong operations
Small businesses that have weathered well in the past year have one thing in common: an ongoing focus on business continuity planning. Businesses with sound planning processes in place ultimately have a strong grasp on operational costs and efficiencies, as they know their runway with cash position at all times.
When establishing a business continuity plan, keep in mind three key categories: 1) capital and cash, 2) credit and 3) insurance.
Capital and Cash
Business owners with a strong grasp on operational efficiencies were well prepared to navigate the hard decisions that came during the tumultuous past year. Knowing your cash and capital needs can alleviate stress in other areas.
With a planful approach, you can avoid making knee-jerk decisions based on emotion. Instead, the focus is on calculating how much runway you have left in cash, and how much capital you have on hand.
Obviously, even the best planning isn’t going to magically make cash or capital appear. However, keeping a strong idea of your cash and capital position will give you peace of mind in the tough decisions you’re making. This can be true whether you’re making decisions for future growth or needing to make cutback decisions around inventory, product offerings or staffing levels.
Credit – access to it, and how you use it – is a tool that can go hand-in-hand with your cash and capital position. Your comfort level and purpose for using credit should drive your availability and usage.
Some more risk-averse businesses might use their credit to propel growth opportunities or to leverage discounts and operational efficiency.
Many businesses have had to reassess their tolerance in the current environment, which is expected. Ultimately, you should not only assess available credit but also assess your comfort levels. Again, this will help ensure that when you have a decision to make it is calculated and not a decision driven by emotion.
Insurance is somewhat of a central point in ensuring your business can continue when unforeseen events arise. Now more than ever is a great time to review your coverage and make sure you are prepared.
As history has told us, there can always be a next, unexpected event which can throw a wrench in your plans for your business. Proper insurance coverage shifts some of those circumstances and makes them controllable events.
When your continuity plan encompasses cash and capital, credit and insurance, you benefit from a more informed view of how to keep your business operating. This planning relieves stress, creates transparency in your organization and allows you to make better decisions in reacting to a continually changing environment.
In today’s landscape, a variety of programs remain available through banks and government programs. These range from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL), to reduced fees on SBA 7(a) loans, to state, county and local business grant programs.
A consultation with a business banking partner can help you not only navigate the continuity planning process, but also understand additional resources that might be available to you.