Jonathan Amponsah CTA FCCA is an award-winning chartered accountant and tax adviser
who helps UK SMEs.
We are seeing more businesses reopening as lockdown slowly lifts although some will be
running at lower capacity than before the pandemic. If your business was able to do well
during lockdown, that is fantastic. However, if this hasn’t been your experience you may be
concerned for the survival of your business.
Let’s look at way to help your business survive and how to leverage it in the current
circumstance. I have included links to some free templates, tools, white papers and
resources to help you save heaps of time, reduce your stress and get through the crisis.
Creating an Action Planner
You’ll need an action planner such as a spreadsheet listing all the government grants, loans
and deferred payment options available to you. Then take a look at where you can save
money (tax, agreeing longer payments terms with suppliers, rent, staff etc.) and where you
can make more money (new business ideas, speeding up customer payments etc.). Also
review your tangible assets. Can these be leveraged?
To save time, you can download the ‘Peace of mind financial action planner’ here:
https://www.thetaxguys.co.uk/client-area/ This contains a Financial Survival Checklist and the
Government Stimulus Planner. Grab it and work through the 16 areas with your accountant.
Applying for government support
Ask your accountant about the help available and check to see where you qualify.
For example, if you’re sole trader/freelancer there is a grant available. It’s important to
understand your own financials and the scheme rules before applying. If you’re eligible,
you’ll have received a letter from the government. This scheme opened on 13 May 2020 and
you need to register for an online account and prepare to file the claim. It’s worth getting
help from your accountant so your paperwork is right – not just on the claim, but on your
tax returns also.
If you run a limited company (including one-man band companies) there is help available.
This keeps changing, so watch out for the dates and deadlines. Speaking to your accountant
can help ensure you include everything necessary for your business in your plan.
You will find both action planners and furlough paperwork templates here:
Cutting cost without undermining your business
Even where you have no income for, say three months, unless you plan to close your
business, there are some expenses you may want to leave alone or even increase when your
competitors are cutting back (for example, smart marketing).
If cost-cutting is necessary, create a spreadsheet with all your expenses and then look at
each in turn and see where you can cut back. A few small cuts can make a big overall
difference and will often be less damaging to the business than one or two large cuts.
Ensure you understand your cashflow and what ‘target’ you need to reach to survive.
You can read more about cost cutting here;
Once you’ve reduced your costs and you know where your income will come from in the
next 6-12 weeks (including income from the government), you’ll have a 12-week cashflow
forecast. This document is the basis of your business moving ahead. Stick to it. If you’ve
decided to cut some costs - cut them. If you’re going to ramp up the marketing or add a new
service – do so.
Adapting your Business Model
Successful businesses are always adapting, leveraging and taking advantage of new
commercial opportunities. This has never been truer than in the current situation. You may
have heard of businesses taking their goods and services to their customers at homes or
adapting and taking their products and services online. Restaurants that didn’t offer take-
away service or delivery, now do. Spas are selling their exclusive creams and serums direct
to their customers. How can you adapt your business to “make lemonade out of lemons”?
Analysing demand now to gain new customers
How can your business solve some of the current pressing problems posed by the
pandemic? If you’re a services business, can you productise parts of what you do and sell
these at reduced prices for now? For example, can you run your craft workshops online via
Zoom etc.? Mail out the craft items and then everyone logs on to make them together.
Even after lockdown is fully lifted, it’s unlikely business will ever be quite the same again.
The way we do business has changed and some of those changes are here to stay – at least
for the short to medium term. For example, social distancing and increased hygiene
awareness. If you run construction or space consulting business, how are you preparing now
to help businesses solve these challenges in the workplace? And if you’re a marketer, how
are you preparing your clients with the right messaging to market their business
A great way to be inspired with new ideas about how to adapt your business and spot the
upcoming trends is to look at what other successful businesses have done. Read business