The experts tell us it could be 12–18 months before a vaccine for COVID-19 is found and made universally available.
So, while we can hope for a lesser period, we probably need to plan for uncertainty to continue over this time frame. And remember, the vaccine will only deal with the health and wellbeing aspects of the crisis. What about the lingering economic and social impacts of a world and global economy shifting down? What about the impact on your business? What should you be prioritising today?
As business owners and those working in businesses, we are all likely to be impacted in a negative and/or very challenging way. Among the difficulty there will be opportunities, but there will also be those who struggle to survive. And it won’t be because they were unprepared or there was anything wrong with their business model. Rather it will be simple bad luck – wrong place, wrong time.
So, with all this in mind, what should our priorities be in this difficult and uncertain time?
Here’s a list we’ve come up with for taking care of yourself, your friends and family, and your business. If you have some other ideas, please send them through so we can share them with our JPAbusiness community.
- Self-health – Eat, rest and exercise well. Listen to and adopt the precautions advocated by our leaders and authorities.
- Family, friends and social health – While you maintain your physical distance, modern technology means it’s easy to stay connected to friends and family. Remember, connectedness is about genuine conversations and helping each other.
- Business health – It’s time to operate your business as tightly as possible – between the flags, to use a beach analogy. Focus on what you can control, but also with your head held high, your feet in the present and an eye to the future.
- Use this opportunity to reconnect with your clients and key suppliers, understand their changing needs and pain points, and share your challenges.
- Review your regular commitments – financial and operational – and assess possible changes in the current environment. Watch your liquidity like a hawk and protect against insolvency.
- Reassess cash flow break-even thresholds and the basic dynamics and related actions to sustain a functioning business.
- Develop a business continuity and crisis management plan to activate if significant changes to your people and/or services become necessary.
- Communications with bankers and financiers – step them up a notch.
- Update business plans and valuations in light of circumstances and conduct some scenario planning so you’re ready for action as things change and/or improve (on the other side of the crisis).
- Last, and most importantly, protect and nurture your people – they will be your saviour when things improve. Be open and upfront – engage them to help you guide the business through its difficulties.
Practical business resources
We’ve also put together a list of eBooks, blogs and other resources to assist with practical ideas and general business advice to help you confront and manage through this challenging environment.
Managing customer and supplier relationships
Cash flow management and maintaining liquidity
Communicating with your bank
Communicating with your team
Blogs and infographics
- Our 14 tips to control cash flow [cheat sheet]
- What does a healthy balance sheet look like?
- How to influence your bank’s lending appetite [cheat sheet]
- How to create an annual business plan
- How to encourage 'frank and fearless' feedback from your team
- 5 tips to manage your banking partnership
And here are some links on COVID-19, government programs and support.
- gov.au – Latest health updates from federal Department of Health
- gov.au/coronavirus – Information and fact sheets on the Australian Government’s economic response to COVID-19 (relevant for businesses and households)
- The case for Endgame C – The Conversation
Finally, if you are having difficulties, or foresee some looming challenges and feel you’d benefit from some external and independent advice, feel free to contact the JPAbusiness team on 02 9893 1803 or 02 6360 0360 for a confidential, no obligation discussion.
James Price has over 30 years' experience in providing strategic, commercial and financial advice to Australian and international business clients. James' blogs provide business advice for aspiring and current small to mid-sized business owners, operators and managers.