COVID-19 has greatly impacted small businesses, and there's no telling when normalcy will return. Businesses fortunate enough to remain operational up to this point are investigating measures to optimize their cash flow so they can continue to operate.

1. Apply for a Loan

Small businesses impacted by the crisis can apply for aid from the federal government. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses, self-employed individuals and independent contractors who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs — including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and utilities, with some limitations.

Although the first round of funding for this program has reached its limit, applications are still being accepted, on the assumption that Congress will allocate more funding. Click here for details on the program, as well as updated information.

2. Cut expenses

Now is the time to cut any unneeded expenses and tighten your budget. Look at any recurring payments you have and eliminate any that aren't completely necessary to your operations. If you have debt that you're paying off, reach out to lenders and discuss the situation to see if you're able to temporarily halt payments or work out a new payment plan that keeps more money in your pocket in the near-term.

3. Work with clients

There's a chance that your clients are as impacted by the COVID-19 crisis as your business, if not more so. Be understanding of this and willing to negotiate on payment terms. If they are unable to pay balances currently owed or to continue working with you based on existing terms, negotiate on price to encourage some payment. Try working out a temporary payment arrangement to get you both through this disaster. Terms can be re-worked in the future when things are more stable. It's better to have less cash coming in from clients than to lose clients and not get anything from them at all.

4. Work with suppliers

A report from Deloitte1 looking at the supply chain impact of the COVID-19 crisis suggests working out an agreement with suppliers that both you and they can live with to get through this rocky period.

"One way to preserve working capital is to take longer to pay your suppliers," the report reads.  "Some companies may unilaterally decide to delay their payments and force the extension on their suppliers, especially when stuck with inventory they can’t deliver into impacted margins. Of course, such an approach is likely to damage your supply relationships. Even worse, it might deprive supply chain partners of the cash they need to maintain their operations, which could lead to late deliveries and quality problems, never mind the added strain to supply relationships."

This is why working out an arrangement is key. The pandemic is affecting everyone, and there is likely going to be room to negotiate, even if on a temporary basis.

5. Don't forget marketing

It's important to remind people that you're still in business. Let them know through your marketing channels how you are handling the COVID-19 situation and how you can still be of value to them. If you are able to provide your goods/services while people are instructed to remain at home (i.e. through deliveries), let them know. If you are unable to get your goods/services to them at this time, assure them that you will be there for them when things get back to normal. Utilize email, social media, and your website to get your message across. If it makes sense to do so, consider price cuts or discounts to encourage active buying.

How you deal with cash flow is ultimately going to be dictated by your unique set of circumstances and the type of business you run. Do your best not to make any rash decisions that will be difficult to undo, and negotiate where you can. Remember that everyone else is dealing with this too, and people might be willing to meet you halfway when it is feasible to do so. Explore alternate sources of revenue if your primary source is being hit hard.

For resources and information on how Nevada State Bank can assist you through the crisis, please visit https://www.nsbank.com/business/resources/coronavirus-updates-for-business/.

1. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-COVID-19-managing-cash-flow-in-crisis.pdf

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC