by John Foster, CPCU, ARe, ASLI, AFSB
Auwe! Has your business or organization been impacted by COVID-19? Are you concerned and wondering what steps you can take to preserve the equity you built into your business all these years? If so, this article is written to help you take certain steps that will help you weather the storm.
Hawaii is getting hit hard. Everyone knows tourism is a major part of our economy. Actually, tourism was the largest contributor to Hawaii’s GDP, about 21%. On March 30, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser informed us that unemployment may hit 25%, not an uplifting prospect.
COVID-19 will do more damage to Hawaii than Hurricane Iniki did in 1992 or 9/11 in 2001. And while it will be rough for some time, this too will pass. Once we get used to the shock of this novel attack, we must collect our thoughts and begin to make plans.
VIDEO: Business Continuity for Hawaii Employers
To help ensure business survival you need to quickly assess four critical areas: people, capital, documents, and operations.
The first step in planning for the continued success of your business is taking stock of all your assets. And the first and most important asset you have is people. This includes employees, clients, vendors, partners, and more. Make lists of all the people your business touches and be sure you can communicate with them quickly and efficiently. At minimum, you should be able to write an email and send it to all your employees or all your clients. Use your website and social media to connect and communicate.
While no fun, it is time to re-calculate your assets and liabilities. Even if you had to lay off or furlough your employees and your doors may be closed for six to eight weeks or longer, it’s time to revisit your property, inventory, equipment, and any other assets that belong to your business. Next, itemize and calculate the liabilities. You need to know your numbers, so when it’s time to talk to creditors, you can clearly communicate your unique situation.
Gather all your important documents. If your important documents are not digitized, organized and backed-up, now is a good time to make this effort. Whether it’s employment-related, tax information, or new reporting requirements attached to disaster loans, documentation is critical. If you are already a simplicityHR by ALTRES client, then you don’t have to worry about your payroll and HR documentation, it’s at your fingertips in HR Symphony.
This does not need to be complicated: write a list of all the critical processes that define how you operate. For each process, put down the name of the person who will be responsible for that process. If you are running at 50% of your normal operation, the people responsible for various processes may need to shift. That is to be expected. You need to decide who will be doing what, and then you need to communicate the new expectations.
Evaluate your options
After you are comfortable that your business’ people, capital, documents and operations are clear in your mind, you can now think about your options.
You ran a successful business, and things are looking dark right now. You need to see past the darkness and look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Take a realistic look at how long it may take for the economy to pick up. During this period, how much money will you need to cover your liabilities? Do you have the cash? Do you have credit lines?
The Small Business Association has four economic relief programs for small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations.
For example, the Paycheck Protection Program provides you with a loan if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks. Also, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance program can provide you with up to $10,000 in funds to help cover payroll, rent, accounts payable and other eligible bills.
While there are conditions, the intent of both programs is for the loans to be “forgiven.” In other words, these loans do not have to be repaid.
For more information on all four programs, see SBA Coronavirus Relief Options.
Your creditors do not want to see you fail. You were a good paying customer, but now you may have little to no revenue. Once you have a clear written plan for how you plan to manage this difficult period, you will be ready to communicate your plan and begin rebuilding your business.
For more helpful information, see COVID-19 Employer Resources.
John Foster is a Senior Insurance Consultant with simplicityHR by ALTRES where he helps local businesses realize optimal results with their workers’ compensation programs.
Previously he served as Vice President at a local insurance agency where he specialized in tailoring commercial property and casualty risk management programs for Hawaii businesses. His decades of leadership experience spans insurance, banking, consulting, IT and manufacturing industries.
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.