The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for small business owners, who are hurting financially, worried and confused about what options they may have.
Closing their business is not just a financial concern for them as they see a complete loss of revenue. The owners also want to do the right thing for their employees, who can’t pay their bills without jobs.
SCORE Chester and Delaware County, which offers mentoring and practical advice to new and current business owners alike, has seen a large increase from the business community in requests for their services and questions about the right strategy to follow.
“Since March 24, we have hosted over 2,400 small business owners on daily webinars with the SBA,” says John Hess, chairman of SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties. “We have seen a 35 percent increase in clients seeking services and a 45 percent in the number of mentoring sessions.
“These are not just numbers to us. It shows us that there is a need in the small business community, and we have a calling to help our community in this time of need,” Hess says.
Here are 12 ideas from SCORE offered by JL Reyes Accounting & Tax Service, LLC to keep cash flows as strong as possible for small businesses:
1. File tax returns early if you are getting a refund. If you owe taxes, get an extension.
2. Arrange financing now.
a. Check for lower interest rates.
b. If you have an equity line, draw it down while you can.
c. Make sure your credit score and credit profile is strong before applying.
d. Check with your financing sources and U.S. Chamber website to see if there are any breaks.
e. Get informed about the SBA loans and financial assistance programs.
f. Check out public/private partnerships set up to help get financing to small businesses (e.g., PIDC, Finanta). Move quickly.
g. Don’t worry about credit score if survival depends on making moves.
h. Keep your commitments with banks. Don’t violate agreements.
i. Don’t put up your home as collateral…unless you don’t care if you lose it.
j. Tap into your retirement funds, but understand penalties and tax consequences.
3. Slow down cash outflows.
k. Hold off payments as long as possible
l. Reduce all unnecessary spending
m. Make minimum payments on all debts
n. Try to shave operating costs
o. Use the cheapest gasoline available. Premium grades are a luxury.
4. Put a sign on your office door. Communicate with the general public.
5. Consider laying off employees due to lack of work.
p. Don’t take action until you are 100% certain of the consequences and understand the law.
q. Laying off employees allows them to apply for unemployment benefits.
r. This applies to W-2 employees.
s. Self employed business owners can collect unemployment also!
t. Keep emotions in check. No. 1 priority is to keep the business alive. You can hire your employees back after the crisis.
u. Switch employees to part time.
v. Cut benefits temporarily.
6. Check your insurance policy for “business interruption” coverage.
7. Don’t SELL investments. Remember 2008. Talk to your financial advisor.
8. Don’t depend on anyone to bail you out.
9. Get creative: This is a good time to renovate or reorganize now that business is slow!
10. Get a SCORE Mentor to help you prepare your recovery plan!
Schedule a video appointment with a SCORE Mentor.
11. If you find yourselves with time on your hands consider working on the future:
w. Your Will
x. Creating a Trust
y. Your estate
z. Succession Planning
12. Do your homework on the Chamber of Commerce’s websites, local and national.
SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer business experts, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals.
Since 1964, they have provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs nationwide.
SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties has been operating since 1985, with 120 dedicated volunteers today who provide confidential mentoring at no charge and offer business seminars, workshops and webinars to benefit the local community.
SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).