The events surrounding the coronavirus are developing at breakneck speed and as a small business owner, it may be very challenging to make a decision about what to do and how to plan ahead. We have put together a few suggestions that might help:
Tap into financial assistance
Improving your cash flow during this time can help you maintain operations. Here are some resources that are now being offered to help small businesses:
- Disaster Assistance Loans from the US Small Business Administration
The SBA has announced that it will offer Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to small businesses affected by the Coronavirus. You can contact the SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
- Apply for a line of credit
This is a popular option for businesses because of the flexibility it provides. Instead of needing to re-apply for loans each time you need extra cash, you can tap into the amount you need, pay it back and then have that amount available to you again.
- Research state-wide initiatives to help small businesses
Check with your State small business agencies to see what assistance they are offering for small businesses during this time. Many have announced assistance packages and other initiatives. Here is a State-by-State chamber of commerce directory and you can also do a search for additional organizations in your state.
- Facebook Small Business Grants program
Facebook has announced a small business grants program totaling $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses cope with the challenges of COVID-19.
Reframe your perspective on cash
For many small businesses having sufficient cash flow is a constant struggle. During this time your business may experience more challenges with reduction in sales, which will ultimately influence your ability to pay suppliers, fulfill recurring fixed costs, and cover debt.
It is important to assess your cash and income and think of creative ways to make it last longer than usual. Some ideas how:
- Give up your office space
Letting go of your office space is one way that you can save on monthly expenses and reallocate the cash to your reserves. Working remotely has never been more robust and accessible as it is in 2020, and the Coronavirus has brought it new heights. There is a plethora of advice online on how to set yourself and your team up to work from home. Here is one article that offers some great tips.
- Downsize your staff & introduce temporary wage reductions
As regrettable as it is, one way to increase your cash flow is to reduce the overhead of salaries. You may have to let some people go or reduce their employment from full time to part time. Your employees may be receptive to a temporary reduction in their wages in order to stay employed. This is not an easy move but may help you weather this period and conserve your resources.
- Pay business bills with a credit card to hold on to your cash longer
One way you can conserve your cash flow is paying your business bills with a credit card. Using a credit card will allow you to defer your payment until your next billing cycle and also earn card rewards like cash back and points. Melio allows you to pay any bill with a credit card, even to those vendors that don’t accept cards. Your recipient will receive a paper check or bank transfer.
- Seek help from credit card companies
Most of the major credit card companies have mobilized to offer small businesses help by allowing skipped payments, and help with fees, payment terms, interest rates, and more. Contact your credit card issuer to see how they can help.
- Offer gift cards
You may be able to increase your income by offering gift cards to your products or services. While social distancing has limited people’s ability to physically buy from businesses, many are supporting their local shops by purchasing gift cards.
Asses your supply chains and put alternatives in place
In this uncertain time, you may find that your suppliers are not able to provide the goods or services that you need to keep your business running. Now is the time to research contingent suppliers and understand what is needed to work with them, so you are ready if you have to rely on different sources.
Stick to your budget
It may be tempting to over-extend in order to keep operations running. But sticking to a realistic budget will help you track your expenses and create accountability. There are many free budgeting templates available and you also might want to invest in the services of a professional who can help you set up or optimize your budget and create an ongoing plan to review expenses and make sure you are sticking to the plan you defined.
Take advantage of resources being introduced for small businesses
In addition to financial assistance, government agencies and corporations are stepping up to provide resources and guidance for small businesses:
- Many major banks like Capital One, Wells Fargo and Citibank have announced that they are willing to work with customers experiencing financial challenges and some are waiving monthly and service fees. They are also encouraging businesses to speak to customer service directly for one-on-one help.
- In addition to initiating the Disaster Assistance Loans Program, the US Small Business Administration has also set up a resource center that addresses different topics on how to plan and respond.
- The US Small Business Administration also works with local partners to help small businesses with things like mentoring, financial advice and more. Search their directory for resources in your area.
- Quickbooks, a tool used by many small businesses for their accounting, has set up a resource center to provide information, tools and support.
Streamline your payment process
Finding ways to improve productivity can save time and help you run your business more smoothly. Setting up an efficient and easy-to-use payment platform like Melio will allow you to schedule one-time and recurring payments in advance, so they arrive on time and you don’t have to waste energy following up on reminders, and also schedule an exact payment date to avoid paying too early so you can hold on to your cash longer.
If you are also a business supplier, you can also use Melio to request payment from your customers with a simple and secure link that keeps your bank details hidden. Your customers are not required to have a Melio account to pay you.
The uncertainty of the current situation may present your business with some unusual challenges. Finding creative solutions and taking time to formulate a plan of action can help you better manage the dilemmas during this time.
Melio’s mission is to “keep small businesses in business” through smarter payments that improve cash flow and save valuable time - and we hope you find this resource and our services helpful at this time.