Kitchen Table Business Support™
A business support process you can carry out at your kitchen table. This will help to avoid insolvency, liquidation or bankruptcy for yourself or your company. Work through this guide to allow you to review, restructure and remodel your business.
How to support your business through the Coronavirus pandemic?
One thing we know with confidence is that you’re not alone in asking this question. Therefore, a good place to start answering it is at the beginning – forgive the simplicity of the thinking here but sometimes that is the best way to view things.
The beginning is what your business looked like before the Coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, your pre-COVID-19 position. We’ll call it Point A.
However, what we’ll be working through together now is a step-by-step process to see what your revived and refreshed business might look like. It may not be different at all or it could be completely different.
In addition, we’ll consider all the factors at play in your business that will help you to put together your cash flow forecast. Swapping some of the assumptions around will allow you to decide your favourite or most likely outcome. This will be your post-COVID-19 position, which we’ll call Point B.
Your state of mind
Firstly, before we begin, please know that no-one is immune to moments of self-doubt or questions over self-worth. Me included. We know that the process to recover from where you and your business are today may seem daunting and overwhelming at times. Therefore, don’t forget we are aiming to avoid insolvency, liquidation or bankruptcy for yourself or your company with this business assistance process.
Most importantly I’m not qualified to advise on these issues. But you can find publicly available guidance on mental health issues right here. Please use them if you have any concerns about how to handle the challenges that might lie ahead of you.
Step 1: Let’s get started with business support
Whether you run your business through a company or in your own name, the basics of this process – determining what Point A looks like – are the same.
To get to Point A, we first need to look at all aspects of your business and determine whether they are positive or negative. Start this exercise by putting your entire business, as it is now, in an imaginary cardboard box – it can be big or small, smart or untidy, new or old . The important thing is that it’s the right shape, size and fit for your business. No box (or business) is too big or small for this exercise.
Without doubt, every part of your business needs to be in there: stock, cash in the bank, your brand, money owed to creditors, accrued statutory employee costs…the lot.
Now get a pen and pieces of paper. Clear the kitchen table and start to lay the contents of the box out on it. Firstly, group the good bits on one side, the bad bits on the other and the bits you’re not quite sure about in the middle. As you place each item on your table, write it down on a piece of paper and place it under ‘Good’, ‘Bad’ or ‘Unsure’.
The aim is to release your existing business from the confines of the box. This allows you to reshape and reassess – your business should not solely be determined by its past. Once everything is unpacked from your box and put into a category, you’ll have your Point A – where you are now.
We then need to focus on you. Not on where you go on the table but how you feel. What do you want to do for yourself and with your business? This process may help you to answer this question.
What are your skills to carry out this business assistance?
Helping your business out of the current crisis may require different skills and a level of resolve that you might not have needed since you first started your business. You will be pushed hard, in some cases harder than ever before, and you need to be ready.
What are your skills, your contacts, your knowledge, your expertise? Think laterally and consider every aspect of you – not just the parts you use in your business. Write them down. If you’re like me, these will go in the middle, as I find I can be as much an asset to my business as I can be a liability. It might also turn out that you have more at your disposal on the journey to Point B than you thought.
Goodwill is the undefined value of a business. It’s the value a business has on top of the total value of all of its physical or identifiable assets. Moreover, goodwill is created by combining all the parts of a business and getting them working optimally together to offer recognised capabilities, intellectual property, a solid brand reputation and recognition within the market.
A business’s goodwill could be primarily based on personal goodwill – the expertise of a single person – or on business goodwill that would still be in place without that individual being involved. The more complex a business is the more likely business goodwill will supersede the value of personal goodwill.
Business goodwill will go on the good side of the table. You decide if your personal goodwill sits on the table at all. Are you and the business intrinsically linked together and can your personal goodwill be utilised to get to Point B?
What is most likely missing from the table right now is your employees. It’s a tricky and delicate issue. Especially if your workforce have strong, long-term working relationships. Let us, albeit very gently, place them in the middle of the table for now (it’s okay, no-one is watching).
Need some help?
For instance, if you’d like help working through Step 1, we’re offering a free 30-minute consultation with our advisors. Please contact us to arrange this. A limited number of these consultations are available.
Step 2: Let’s assess for business assistance
You should now have in front of you a very messy table and hopefully an empty cardboard box. How do you feel? If your table is looking rather empty, don’t panic. That’s quite normal, especially if your business is service-based. We’ll look at each section of the table at a time and see what we need to do with them to get to Point B.
The bad side
Let’s spend a few minutes considering the bad side of the table first. It’s likely that your business is suffering from significantly reduced income or perhaps has no income. On this side of the table we should put what the company owes to
- creditors, i.e. suppliers.
- HMRC (both due and upcoming).
- finance companies.
- on lease commitments, finance and property.
- due to contractual commitments (.e.g phones, HR support etc.).
- on potential legal disputes or claims.
- In addition, on accrued statutory employee costs – holiday pay, redundancy, notice pay.
Do you run your business through a limited company or a limited liability partnership (LLP)? If you do, we need to check if anything on the bad side of the table has your personal guarantee behind it.
Please consider any loans, finance agreements, supplier accounts and anything else that might have your name supporting it. Have a good look around for these, they can sneak into supplier accounts, particularly in the construction sector. You may never need to worry about your list of personal guarantees but it’s good to be sure.
Managing the bad side
I’ve been pleased to hear from business owners directly and from other stories that many suppliers and lenders are willing to do deals to help support their customers in these difficult times.
However, we must all be mindful that every deferral will have an impact on the third party not now receiving the deferred payments. Naturally, the more you can defer payments the better off you are going to be in the short term. But what about when all those deferred payments need honouring?
It certainly feels like HMRC is trying hard not to be the reason a business fails – the ability to defer payments is a huge help. Have a look at our Government support for businesses under COVID-19 page for details of the support available. Don’t forget to include any deferred payments into your the cash flow forecast.
Premises & location
Every business seems to put these on a different side of the table. You have to ask yourself these questions:
- Where is your business based from?
- Is the location important to your business?
- Does it contain things that are integrated into the premises, e.g. production capabilities?
- What would the relocation costs be?
- Similarly, is the location too big, too small, how utilised is it?
- Is there a lease?
- Are they on a license? What are the terms and how long are you committed for?
- What level of desk space might you need if staff worked more from home in the future?
- After that, are the premises secure and fully insured?
Once you’ve considered all of these you should be in a good position to answer the most important question – do you need to change your premises? Try to remove sentimentality from your reasoning and think about what needs to be done for your business.
The good side
Now to move on to the good side of the table. What have you placed there? Remember we are carrying out a business support process. You might include:
- Cash in the bank
- Your brand
- Website domain and content/functionality
- Customer database
- Money owing to the company from customers (debtors)
- Order book
- Third-party website reputation (eBay, Amazon etc.)
- Franchise agreement
Managing the good side
Firstly, consider what you have on this side of the table and the questions you need to ask to get a full understanding of where your business really is:
- Are you holding slow moving or redundant stock?
- Why are you keeping it?
- How much space is it taking up?
- Where’s your stock located?
- Are you delivering items or are they being shipped by a third party?
- What’s the best solution – is it advantageous to store and ship your own items?
- Is your business owed money?
- Are you being paid?
- Are those that owe money open for business? Will or can they pay?
Answer all the questions your good side provokes and, just as with the bad side, turn them into action points to steer you towards Point B. This is part of the business help process.
However difficult, this is a vital area to address. You’ll see from the case studies that businesses are approaching the question of employees in different ways. Some are furloughing employees, some have laid-off employees and some have found them alternative work. Therefore, it’s important to understand your options and what works best for your business.
You can talk through these options with one of our advisors and we’re offering a free 30-minute consultation to help you steer your business through COVID-19. Get in touch with us now. Only a limited number of consultations available.
Does your business want to borrow money for business support?
Wants and needs may conflict here. The step-by-step guide of business support we’re working through now will help with the decision-making process. In addition, if Government funding is not available for your business, I’d recommending reading the raising finance section of our site. Please do read this before making any final decisions on borrowing money for your business.
Cash flow forecasting
Please don’t skip this bit. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but it’s really, really important. Any forecast is based on a number of assumptions so start with the key factors that will affect your business. In addition, your forecast should be easily adjusted to present different outcomes as the assumptions are changed. For a more detailed look at how to prepare a cash flow forecast, read our cash flow forecasting article.
How will your business change during the business support process?
Think practically about the processes your business will need to go through as it transitions from Point A to Point B.
- How could social distancing affect your business?
- Similarly, will or can employees continue to work from home?
- Can you anticipate the level of sales in the short and medium term?
- Could merging with another business help to manage costs and bring efficiencies?
- After that, how could your business model be reconstructed?
Moreover, what can you do to make your business as agile as possible?
Is your business an agile business?
Without doubt, the Coronavirus pandemic has tested the disaster planning strategy for nearly every business in the UK. We all hope that there won’t be a repeat of something with such a wide impact but businesses must learn from this disaster.
Flexibility will, for me, be the future of many businesses. Above all this is your opportunity to build agility into your future.
Therefore, part of the reason for methodically working through this article is to spot what’s good and what’s bad, what’s important, what’s crucial and what’s manageable in your business.
It may be an extreme example but this is best shown in our COVID-19 case study about a quarry business. The employees that have stayed on are able to perform many roles, such as a member of the administrative team who is also comfortable to make deliveries in a 7.5t truck.
A lighter, faster, and hence more agile business will be better placed to respond to change and will be better skilled and more comfortable doing so.
Regulation and compliance
This area will continue to increase for every sector. This means the use of third-party specialists will grow too, whether it’s through software packages or direct consultation. It’s an important change to plan for.
Step 3: What’s next in the business support process?
Most importantly, you should now have a clear idea of what your business looked like before COVID-19. That was Point A.
However – how different is Point B going to be from Point A?
Please begin to construct an action plan to understand what will need to happen to move your business from Point A to Point B. As a result, the length of that list and the scale and severity of changes will establish the scale of the task ahead.
As I said earlier, this could be one of the biggest challenges of your business career.
Don’t rush – business assistance will take time
In conclusion, this is not something that can be concluded instantly. However, time is moving on, so don’t leave it too late. If the jump from Point A to Point B is too severe, have a look at our business rescue.
Moreover, if you’d like some advice on getting to Point B, we’re offering a free 30-minute consultation with our advisors. You can contact us here.
Please can you help us?
Firstly, although I’ve performed the business support process above with clients many times over the last 20 years, I’ve not tried to explain it to anyone else in writing before.
However, your views and suggestions of what could be added into this business assistance article would be much appreciated. If you’d like to be interviewed as a case study, we’d love to hear from you. You can be interviewed anonymously or with your business name on the interview. You can also comment in our forums – just register and off you go. Any requests for article topics will be gratefully received.