Covid-19 Federal & State Resources
SBA Disaster Loans for Businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration has granted a disaster declaration covering all North Carolina counties, allowing affected businesses to apply for low interest SBA disaster loans. Please visit DisasterLoan.sba.gov to apply.
More information can be found by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or 1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or by emailing email@example.com.
North Carolina Information
NC Unemployment Insurance Information
COVID-19 Information for Employers
NC Rapid Recovery
NC Department of Health and Human Services Covid-19 Overview Page - https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19
NC Department of Health and Human Services Covid-19 Resources for Businesses Page - https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-businesses-and-employers
NC Department of Revenue – Latest Tax Notices and Updates - https://www.ncdor.gov/news
Wake County Information
Wake County – Latest Covid-19 Information - https://covid19.wakegov.com/
Wake County – Guidance for Businesses - https://covid19.wakegov.com/guidance-for-business/
A Business Leader's Guide to Planning in a Crisis Environment
If you're a business owner or leader right now, this is probably one of the most difficult times of your life. Your family, your employees, clients, suppliers, and an entire eco-system of partners and related businesses all look to you for leadership. The weight of responsibility can be crushing, and it's something many people can't understand unless they've been there.
As a business owner and CEO for many years, I understand because I've felt the crush. The economic aspect of this crisis is bad, probably worse than anything we've seen in our lifetime. The good news is that we will get to the other side of it. Even though it may feel like the end of the world, I can guarantee you that it is not. At some point, we will return to normal operations. Whether it's 2 months or 2 years, every tough situation has a beginning and an end, including this crisis.
So, what kind of actions would I suggest for leaders who are bringing their organizations through this crisis?
Obviously, there are many different potential courses of action and strategies available. What works for one business might not be appropriate for another. Over the years, I've found that a defined planning process to help bring structure to what could be chaos is helpful, and I've outlined one such process below. Hopefully in these recommendations you can find something to help you to craft your own strategy to guide your firm through these turbulent times. As always, as you are working through a crisis, it's important to take care of your physical, mental, and spiritual fitness daily - exercise, read, and pray/meditate. Even though those things are critical, I won't dwell on them. Instead, let's jump right into to the planning process.
1. Evaluate your position. Take stock of the situation, with as little emotion as possible. In order to come through this successfully, you need to have a realistic assessment of exactly where you are. You most likely won't have all the information you need, but use what you have, and make your best educated guess as to the rest. There are seven key areas I'd recommend for evaluation:
Cash - What does your cash position look like? Work on your cash flow projections. How much reserves do you have? How much inventory? How strong are your lines of credit? Will you need your investors to pitch in with a capital call? How are your personal lines of credit? Home Equity? 401K withdrawal? Credit cards? What government assistance programs might be helpful?
Clients - How are they being impacted? What do their prospects look like? Any chance of them leaving you with bad debt? Now is the time to communicate very clearly with them and set expectations. Will they be able to pay you?
Vendors and suppliers - How are they communicating with you? Are they still living up to their agreements? Will they be able to provide the flexibility you need?
Expenses - Which expenses are variable (changing based on volume), and which are fixed? (like a set lease agreement) Which can be cut? Review your entire Profit/Loss statement and examine each expense carefully.
Team members - How has staffing been impacted? How is their morale? Examine metrics for each department and employee to see if the changing business climate has impacted their utilization and function. Are there areas where their freed up time can be put to use for other functions?
Operations - What are the core functions of your business? What operations are critical to those core functions? How has the new reality of working during the virus outbreak changed your operation? Can your team members work from home? Is remote work as productive?
Market - How has your market changed, and what will it look like over the next 12 months? How is demand for your products and services changing? How are client expectations changing? How are your competitors adapting?
Once you have a realistic picture of your current situation, we need to project what the economic environment is going to look like for the coming year for your specific business. Use the results of your situational evaluation, together with your appraisal of the current and possible future threat environment to build 3 scenarios for what the next year looks like.
Most likely case
2. Consider all of your potential courses of action. Brainstorm every action you can think of, even the ones that may seem ridiculous. Sit down with your leadership team and list out all of the possible actions you could take at this time. For each course of action, detail out the potential benefits and risks of each one in each of the three scenarios you developed.
A few questions to get your creativity flowing:
Are there functions that can be put "on hold" until they can be restarted?
How can cash be preserved?
Are there areas you can find deals, such as real estate or equipment?
Can you negotiate discounts with suppliers?
Would clients be open to discount offers if they guarantee purchase volume?
How can staffing cuts be avoided or delayed?
Are there new lines of business that could be profitable in the new environment?
Are there existing lines of business that will be a drag on operations and cash?
If you need to cut expenses, where can you do it without hurting your core business value proposition?
How can you build alliances with other business owner? Are there ways to cooperate, share resources and information?
3. Compare all of your courses of action, discuss the relative merits of each, and rank them in order of preference. Use this ranking to decide on your preferred plan. The plan won't be perfect, and there will be risks and tradeoffs, but by comparing all possible courses of action, you will be selecting the plan that has the best chance of being successful.
4. Document your plan. Hopefully, you have a written business plan for the year. If so, use the information and projections you made in the first step to update it. If a written plan wasn't something you ever completed, now is the time to do it. Even a simple plan is better than nothing at all. It is critical to write it down. Your plan should contain the important relevant modifications and be simple to understand so that every employee down to the most junior team member can explain it.
5. Communicate your plan to your team. Explain in detail how you'll execute on it as a team. Be honest about the risks as well as the potential benefits. Take time to make sure the plan is thoroughly understood. Have your team explain the plan back to you to make sure it is understood. Spend plenty of time answering questions and going through the "what if" scenarios.
6. Communicate essential elements of your plan to those outside of your organization that need to know. At this time, it's critical to keep up good communications so everyone is informed and in the loop on what to expect. Create a communications cadence matrix that includes clients, vendors, and employees. Each of these groups should know what to expect from you and your firm during this crisis. Try and keep up a regular cadence of communication, even if you don't have anything new to report. This will generate confidence that someone is firmly in charge and "on watch" as the situation evolves.
7. Execute the plan. Now is the time to get moving. Have your leaders put the plan into action, and check in with them as often as appropriate to see how they are doing. Meet weekly at a minimum to evaluate results and discuss any new information that should be incorporated into future operations.
I wish you all the best as you work through this. Our economy depends on leaders like you having the courage to face this situation and make the best of it. As a leader on the front lines of the economic aspect of this battle, your actions will have a lasting impact on the lives of many. I am grateful for you and those like you across our nation who will ultimately guide us out of this economic meltdown into a new period of growth and prosperity.