Many businesses, not-for-profit organizations and households live week-to-week or month-to-month on cash flow. As long as it is "business as usual" with invoices being paid, donations being given and paychecks being deposited, all goes smoothly. But, in this uncertain time where nearly every aspect of our culture is upended, it is anything but "business as usual." Many of us will need to be creative in terms of managing our cash.
One of the very first things leaders need to do and need to continue doing on a regular basis throughout this pandemic is re-forecast their budget for this period of time. Unfortunately, the timeline belongs to the virus and is not something any of us can directly control. So, this becomes a critically important time for scenario planning.
- Will revenue flow at 50% of what we usually expect? 25%? More? Less?
- Develop several scenarios with your estimates at various levels and for various lengths of time. Through May? Through August? Through the balance of 2020?
- Immediately stop all "nice to have" spending on operations
- Only essential capital spending should continue
- What reserves do you have?
- What other sources of cash might you have? If you have a line of credit with a financial services institution, it would be wise to have a conversation with your banker regarding whether you could/should draw down that line of credit now or wait for some future date. Openness and honesty will help preserve your relationship with this important partner not only for now, but for the future.
- Is there anything you can put up as collateral to obtain a line of credit or extend your line of credit?
- If you decide to draw down your line of credit now in order to have it readily at hand, think carefully about where to keep it. Make sure that it is with a safe institution and will be easily accessible.
- If you are a non-profit organization, is there an opportunity to obtain a line of credit, loan or grant from a larger, affiliated non-profit organization. For example, if you lead a faith-based social service agency or institution of higher education, is there a possibility that you could obtain emergency funding from the religious body with whom your institution is affiliated?
- How might you raise additional funds? If you sell goods or services, gather a team to think creatively about how you might pivot to sell something (even at a deep discount) directly to consumers who are working from home, educating their children or grandchildren at home, etc.
- Do you have expertise and capacity that could be used to make something new that people need and is in short supply during this crisis? For example, in my home town of Mukilteo, WA, a furniture manufacturer, Kaas Tailored is using their talented staff, equipment and expertise in crafting lightweight surgical masks to help with what Washington State-based Providence Medical Group calls the 100 Million Mask Challenge. And, Kaas Tailored isn't just making the masks, but they are freely sharing what they have learned in this process with other organizations who might be able to assist with this much needed endeavor.
- Do you have personal expertise that would be helpful to others in these challenging days? There are many opportunities for freelance work available online. Here is an article from Ryan Robinson, "78 Best Freelance Jobs Websites to Get Remote Freelance Work (Fast) in 2020" that you might find helpful.
- For business leaders, you may need to furlough employees or even do layoffs because of shortages of cash. This is always painful, no matter what the circumstances, but never more painful than now when these employees we care about are feeling vulnerable in so many other parts of their lives. How can you soften the blow? Can you and other executives take a pay cut first? Can you offer a continuation of health care insurance for some period of time to those who are furloughed or laid off? Can you assist these workers with connecting with support through local unemployment agencies, special grant funding, etc.?
As with my other posts in this series, "Resources for Leaders in Times of Crisis," here are some links to excellent articles, blog posts and other resources related to managing your cash flow during these challenging times. If you know of other resources to share with me, I'd be delighted to hear from you!
- Facebook is launching small business grants. Check here for unfolding information.
- White paper from Deloitte “COVID-19: Managing cash flow during a period of crisis"
- Summary article in Forbes re: The Families First Act signed 03.19.2020
- List of coronavirus small business relief programs from Forbes
- Workest article “The Big List of COVID-19 Financial Assistance Programs for Small Businesses By State”
- In the USA: Foley & Lardner LLP article “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) Is Enacted Into Law” provides a summary of the assistance available to individuals and businesses in the new US law.
- In Canada: The National Post article “Here's how to apply for government help during the coronavirus pandemic”
- Ryan Robinson article “78 Best Freelance Jobs Websites to Get Remote Freelance Work (Fast) in 2020”
Beth A. Lewis
© Getting2Transformation 2020