Why do you need a Coronavirus financial plan?
To say that things are “challenging” at the moment is an understatement to say the least. Coronavirus has turned lives and businesses upside down in a very short space of time.
Compared to what you know, the future of your business is potentially fundamentally different.
It may seem that planning under these circumstances is a colossal waste of time.
This couldn't be further from the truth.
Pulling a financial plan together now is one of the most important things you can do for your business.
I really can’t stress this enough.
As with any plan, things won’t turn out as you anticipate – probably not even close. But that is not the point. The point is that it gives you something to cling to as you go, and something to measure against and adapt.
If you need any more convincing, below are the 8 reasons why you need to do your Coronavirus financial plan right now.
- Take stock and think
- Find the opportunities
- Take decisions
- Get moving
- Stay on the front foot
- Secure funding
1 - Take Stock and Think
Things are moving incredibly quickly at the moment, and the environment is significantly different to anything your business has faced before.
Jumping in to decisions under these conditions can be a costly mistake.
Preparing a plan gives you the chance to pause and look at everything. The chance to reflect on what it is that you need to achieve, rather than what you want to achieve.
By working out what is most important right now, you will simplify the situation and gain the focus that you need.
In taking some time to truly understand your business from the bottom up, you will greatly improve the quality of your decisions.
2 - Find The Opportunities
It may well seem that there are no opportunities at all in the current environment, but they are there if you look hard enough.
The rigour and detail involved in pulling together a plan mean that you can find new ideas amongst the chaos.
As you plan, think about alternative revenue sources - no matter how small. These will help to offset some of the impacts to your turnover. Can you focus on fewer lines or pack sizes? Offer something that is in demand and similar to your normal offering? Gift vouchers? Direct sales through your website? Nothing should be off the table in the early stages of formulating a plan.
Look in detail at your costs. In greater detail than ever. Now is the time to know where every penny is going. Opportunities here are ways to eliminate, defer, or reduce each and every cost to your business. Again, rigorous planning will help you find specific actions to take quickly.
You should always come at your planning process objectively. Treat this exercise as looking at your business with fresh eyes, and be honest about what you find. When you come across inefficiencies - or anything that you just don't like - cut it out. Work out what you want to leave behind as much as what you want to protect about your business.
3 - Take Decisions
There is nothing more damaging to the ability to take a decision than uncertainty. When things are changing quickly and the consequences are huge, the outcome can be to freeze.
Unfortunately, that is exactly the scenario under which decisions need to be taken quickly and decisively.
A Coronavirus financial plan gives you information. It allows you to base your critical decisions on as much data as possible. Your plan won't be 100% correct - probably not even close - but that doesn't matter. It will contain the best information that you have at this time all in one place, and will give you the confidence that you are making the right decision for the circumstance.
When everything looks bleak, a plan will help you identify the least bad option and speed up your decision-making to head in that direction.
It doesn't have to stop there either. As the world changes, and your assumptions change, you can flex your plan. This will allow you to review decisions already taken and adjust them if necessary.
4 - Communicate
To maximise your chances of getting through this, you need to be consistent in everything you do. That goes for every part of your business, and everyone in your business.
If you are finding it hard to keep up with the pace of change and the actions you need to take, think how other people linked to your business must feel.
A Coronavirus financial plan gives you the chance to set everything out and make sure that every action you take is consistent with your overall strategy to survive. You can then break the plan down in to smaller actions relevant for each department and make sure that they too are aligned with it.
You don't need to share your plan in its entirety - in fact that would be too confusing. Instead, you share the simple messages and assumptions that you are using to make sure everyone understands what you are doing.
Whether it's your customers, suppliers, employees, or investors - you will be able to keep them all informed at all times. Patient when you need them to be, and ready to go when you are - communication will be key to that transition.
5 - Get Moving
We've already covered the paradox between huge uncertainty and the need to move quickly, and how it impacts on decision-making.
Where the plan helps is to force you to take that first step. To a certain extent, it doesn't matter if that first step is wrong - it will get you moving and restart your momentum. You can always adjust and update as you go.
What the plan gives you is a reason to take that step - and a point in the future to aim for. It will also give you a map to check against to make sure you are on course for that spot on the horizon, and to adjust if not.
6 - Stay on the Front Foot
A good plan should be many things, but above all it should be flexible. You should be able to quickly and easily update for changes to your initial assumptions. Amongst other things, it should be able to adapt to:
- Changing economic circumstances
- Changing government support
- Changing business priorities
Establishing a process and a rhythm to regularly update and review your plan will keep you in control as the situation evolves.
The plan is not a one-off event, it is an ongoing process that will continually guide you and your decisions.
7 - Secure Funding
Funding for your business comes in many forms, but essentially you need to have enough cash at every point during this pandemic.
A Coronavirus financial plan will help you to identify all those areas (see Opportunities above) where you can release 'Internal Funding'. That is, cost savings and cash boosts as a direct results of your actions.
A plan will also show you your future cash requirements and any gaps while it is early enough to do something about it.
It will help you build a compelling story for 'External Investment'. It will give confidence to potential investors, and it will help to show both you and them how you can repay any debt in the future.
8 - Survive
The ultimate aim at the moment is to have your business survive - everything else is just noise.
A plan will help you ensure you have sufficient cash every month to be able to continue trading. It is not enough to look at the end of the year, or the end of the lockdown period - you need to look along the way to make sure you are solvent at every point.
A plan can help your business be fit and ready for the 'new normal' - whatever that may look like.
A plan can help your business bounce back to operation quickly once the circumstances allow.
Finally, a plan can help you ensure that the business can support any new debt that you take on. It will show what you can afford to pay out of future (potentially lower) profits to avoid stresses further down the road.
For much more information, including a summary of all available support and detailed planning steps, visit our Coronavirus Support page here: