COVID-19 Support: PART 2 – Talk to Your Experts

Keith McBride on April 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

This is part of a three-part post on COVID-19 resources.  The other two parts are available at the following links:

Part 1 – Controlling Your Overhead 

FEDC has been working with many small businesses and landowners through COVID-19 shut down, and have gathered a cache of information that, we expect, would be valuable to other businesses in Freeport and beyond.  Those discussions and conferences and the resulting research and info gathering to help with the concerns raised educates these posts.   However, we continue to meet with local businesses, and the situation on the ground is ever-changing, and therefore the information in these posts will be continuously updated and supplemented.

We will also be posting new information on social media.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to FEDC directly with specific questions or concerns.  Call us at 207-865-4743 x117.

 

PART 2 – Talk to Your Attorney, Accountant and Business Coach

These folks are extremely busy at the moment, but their guidance can be extremely important.  Also, since they tend to charge for their time, protect your cash, but its money well spend If it can help you navigate from here to the end of the COVID crisis with minimal business impact.   Be frank about what and how you can pay for their services, many are showing flexibility, and understanding the situation, they are working with their clients.

WHAT FEDC CAN DO TO HELP:

We cannot give legal, accounting or financial advice.  We encourage businesses to rely on their trusted experts.  However, if you need a good referral to attorneys, accountants and business coaches, please don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Talk to your Attorney

Employment law/Human resources.  The threat of COVID-19 has caused drastic changes to the employment landscape.  Many businesses had not prepared policies on working from home, restricting employee travel, medical leave and paid time off (especially during mandatory quarantine), and layoffs/furloughs when this crisis arose.  Policies and strategies for handling these matters within the law will prevent complex and costly problems from arising later.

Changes in state and federal law.   COVID-19 has inspired (for better or for worse) a flurry of changes to a variety of different laws and regulations. Businesses have been asking questions about “essential and non-essential” business designation and the distinction between the two, unemployment compensation coverage for furloughed COVID-19 employees, and the federal stimulus packages passed in the CARES Act and other legislation.  Its difficult to keep up, and the best strategy is to rely on the legal experts.  Many firms are putting out regular newsletters/webinars on changes to state and federal laws.

Talk to your Accountant

Applying for new financing.  The new PPP and EIDL loan programs have complicated financial details, and they are just 2 of the many new financing programs being rolled-out to help businesses deal with COVID-19.  More on these financial packages in PART 3.  Businesses are understandably confused about which to apply for, whether or not they can apply for 2 or more loan programs, and when these applications should be made before programs expire or run out of funds.  But choosing which and when to apply is best done with the professional guidance of your accountant, with an eye on tax liability, cash flow and debt burden management.

Understanding the tax impacts of COVID-19.   Your accountant may find ways to find financial breathing room during the crisis, and may give you  opportunities to save money in the future.  Because of drastic changes to rules and expenditures on social security/FICA/medicare and other employment taxes, businesses are asking if and how much money they are saving for this year, especially as it relates to businesses with furloughed or laid-off employees.   Revenue shortfalls for the year are also causing many business owners to re-assess their anticipated business and personal tax liability for 2020.  Likewise, since the IRS postponed the income tax filing deadline from April to July 2020, many business owners are wondering whether they should file now or wait.

 

Talk to your Business Coach

Business coaches/advisors can provide immediate assistance for businesses in need of strategic business planning.

Creative thinking for the meantime.  Many businesses have expressed concerns and questions that show they are focused on the short-term and immediate problems of having no cash flow and being shut down by COVID concerns.  Creative thinking has given some small businesses opportunities to generate some revenue, turnover inventory and stay active.   Retail stores can be converted into temporary order fulfillment centers for online and mail orders.  Traditional restaurants have operated (with varying success) as take-out or curbside pick-up restaurants.  There are other creative business success stories throughout Maine and the US.

Planning for the post-COVID future.   On the other hand, some businesses have expressed a need for longer-term thinking in order to emerge from this crisis period ready to succeed in a post-COVID world.  There’s a lot of uncertainty, here.  Business advisors have helped local businesses with marketing strategies, and analyses to determine whether their business will have pent-up demand  (i.e.:  a dentist office whose patients will still need care delayed during COVID), or will have to generate their own demand through new marketing messaging and re-positioning.  Likewise, business advisors can help businesses fine-tune their future revenue projections to help determine what the business should look like when it re-opens.  Will it need the same number of employees?  New suppliers? Are there new market opportunities posed by COVID?  Is this downtime an opportunity to re-brand?  Re-launch social media and other marketing presence?

One additional note on planning for the future:  One business I’ve spoken with mentioned that their industry’s professional association held a discussion/webinar on how Coronavirus will change the industry (customers, vendors, markets, etc.) and how to plan for the future.  The discussion encouraged industry members to use this downtime to prepare for these changes so that they can recover and grow faster in the new post-corona world.  They spoke very highly about the value of the information.   I’ve been encouraging businesses to contact their professional organizations to get similar information and participate in similar discussions.

 

As always, stay safe and stay healthy.  See you in Freeport soon.