How to ride out this wave of uncertainty with a stability plan.

Brent Szalay

I hope you’re keeping safe and sane, in what is a really insane time in our history.

Amongst all the uncertainly of this pandemic, my hope is to educate and empower you to make clear decisions for your business over the coming months. The way to achieve this, is by putting a stability plan in place.

In this article, I outline the steps and provide you with the tools to do create such a plan. It will focus on forecasting and managing your cash flow, as well as understanding the significant Government stimulus initiatives that you’re able to utilise. A key benefit of creating a stability plan for your business, is it will no doubt reduce the anxiety spurred on by the uncertainty of these times. Control and clarity to make swift decisions are what businesses need right now.

Firstly, I want to stress that what we’re experiencing at the moment is not normal. But, when we pause to reflect on our past, we realise we have all been through crises before. Loss of a business, loved one, relationship…I won’t dwell any further. The key point I want to make though, is, we have the ability to be resilient and pivot our way over this pandemic bridge. And, once we have a stability plan in place, we can start to open our minds up to what we want our business to look like on the other side.

The fact is, we don’t often get these breaks that provide us with space to look at our business with refreshed eyes and perspective. The likes of Uber, Slack, Airbnb, and WhatsApp were all created during the GFC. Doom certainly isn’t the only outcome of our current gloomy situation.

 

So, what does a Stability Plan involve? 

  • Evaluating your cashflow position, considering a worst- and best-case scenario, is key for clarity.
  • Analysing strategies that bridge any cashflow gap, such as:
    • Access to Govt stimulus initiatives – understanding what they are,
      and how to access them.
    • Cutting costs, in line with your cash shortfall.
    • Considering a SME Bank loan (up to $250,000). 
  • Reviewing opportunities to change the way you ‘do business’ and generate revenue.
  • Leadership; thinking about what you want your new normal to look like.

So, what are the steps to creating a Stability Plan?

 

STEP 1 – Evaluating your cash flow position

It’s important for you to understand the impact of COVID-19 on your business, as well as your personal position. All so you can make informed decisions as to what to do next.


To do this, you need to conduct a cash flow forecast to understand any revenue impact.

  1. Assess your income – the key driver of your future cash flow. 

Key point: Income drives the ability to pay costs – i.e. staff, rent, etc. So, forming a view on any income adjustments will help you decide what to do next.

    • Assess the impact on your sales over the next 6 months
    • Forecast your likely sales (based on your best estimate), month-by-month, for next 6 months
    • List your current projects – and consider how they’ll be affected
    • Review projects in your pipeline – to see how they’ll be affected
    • Talk with strategic partners – i.e. builders, Govt, etc. – to assess the impact of the pandemic on their business operations.
    • Estimate the timing of your upcoming payments (not just when work is done.)
  1.  Apply your existing cost base from your profit and loss (expenses) to your sales forecast. 
    • So, if you were to make no decisions on cutting costs, what would that scenario look like for your forecast?
  1. Adjust your cashflow (non-profit and loss items) to capture all other outlays. Include, items such as:
    • Receivables and payables – what is the timing re: collection and payment
    • Repayment of principal debt – i.e. any business loans
    • Any existing payment arrangements with the ATO
    • Capital expenditure – i.e. equipment, subscriptions, etc. 
    • Timing of your staff’s superannuation payments – quarterly v monthly
    • **Personal drawings (outside wages)
  1. Adjust your personal cashflow to minimise overall spending. Some strategies to consolidate, include the following:
    • Defer loan repayments – speak to your bank
    • Defer Tax payments – speak with your accountant
    • Seek rent assistance – speak with your landlord
    • Defer capital expenditure
    • Minimise discretionary spending – holidays, entertainment. 

 

 

STEP 2 – Analysing strategies that bridge any cash flow gap 

Now that you have evaluated your position, it’s time to analyse and implement strategies to ride out the storm. Your goal should be to neutralise your cash shortage, each month. To do this, firstly you should evaluate your Govt. stimulus, cost reduction and cash savings, opportunities.

 

  1. Evaluate your Govt. stimulus – opportunities

Then: apply what you’re eligible for to your cash flow model and then reassess your cash flow shortfall. 
TOOL – if you would like a summary of the Stimulus Initiatives, you can find it here.

2. Evaluate cost reduction – opportunities

    • Wages / contractors – staff
    • Rent – speak to your landlord to defer / reduce rent
    • Discretionary spending: i.e. entertainment, non-essential subscriptions, new projects, etc.  
    • Debt repayments – speak to your bank
    • Tax – defer payment on tax
    • **Personal wages

Then: apply any of these cost reduction opportunities to your model, before finalising it and making any big decisions. 

 

  1.  Evaluate your cash savings – opportunities
    a)  Review your personal budget and take the same cost-cutting approach, as mentioned above.
    • Bank – speak to your bank to defer payments
    • ATO – speak to the ATO to defer payments
    • Reduce / cut spending
    • Rent – speak to your landlord

b)  Do you have any business cash reserves that you can contribute?

 

Once you analysed your opportunities to bridge your cashflow gap, list those you plan to implement into an action table, such as below. This is a key part of your management plan. Other important tactics to stay accountable to your plan, are:

  • Nominate and meet with an appropriate person to assess and reassess your cashflow forecast – weekly
  • Adjust your cashflow model according to new information
  • Work with external advisors to keep informed (such as your Accountant)
  • Look after yourself – take care during this stressful period.
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STEP 3 – Reviewing opportunities to change the way you ‘do business’ and generate revenue 

I’d like to encourage you to consider how you can create value (and revenue) differently. Look around and open your eyes. We’re already doing things differently, as we’re forced to work from home and change our behaviours. For example, more and more people are shifting to regular online shopping, having their food delivered to their homes, consuming content online, and conducting meetings via Zoom.

Take a moment to ponder these points:

  • How could you provide your services, differently?
  • How have your client’s attitudes and needs changed in the present climate?
  • Can you offer your skills and potentially partner with other businesses to create a new service offering?
  • Can you take your offering online? 
  • Can you focus on building your community and content, improving your processes; all to generate future revenue AC (after corona)?

 

STEP 4 – Leadership; thinking about what you want your new normal to look like 

Your responsibility as a leader is to look to the future and to put a plan in place for what you want your business to look like. As a creative person, think of it as you have a blank canvas to work with. When was the last time you actually put pen to paper and articulated a 5-year vision for your business? And, have you been through the process of defining your businesses purpose; why you exist?

Tip: Watch this Simon Sinek video 

 

Beyond being clear on your business vision and purpose moving forward, also ask yourself:

  • Looking back to BC (before corona), how could have your business been better prepared?
  • What have you learned from this experience and what can you do better, moving forward (re: your services, how you provide them, working from home flexibilities with your team, internal processes, etc)? 
  • What new opportunities exist for you AC (after corona)?
  • What have you learned from remote working?
  • How have your client’s needs shifted, if at all?
  • What new internal processes can you formally implemented on-going?

Once you have your stability plan in place to ride out the next six months, I encourage you to consider creating a Strategic Plan for your business, that outlines what you want your new normal to be AC (after corona).

 

 In Summary 

  • A stability plan will help you make swift and informed decisions, to minimise this impact of these uncertain times
  • Look for strategies to bridge your cashflow gap
  • Continue to assess your cashflow weekly, as we’re in a rapidly changing environment
  • Make sure you maximise the Govt. stimulus support
  • Consider what do you want your business to look like AC (after corona).

My final tip would be to review your Stability Plan with the guidance of your Accountant / Advisor, as it’s vital to really understand these drivers of your business. If our SEIVA can do anything to help you navigate the significant stimulus opportunities or implement a customised stability plan for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I look forward to getting to the other side of this pandemic bridge, together. Keep safe.

 

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