Seven step COVID-19 plan for businesses

The COVID-19 outbreak is impacting businesses in many ways including reduced trade, temporary business closures, staffing issues and supply chain interruptions. It is therefore important that Boards and management teams are proactive in assessing their capability to withstand disruption and acting decisively to mitigate actual or potential issues.



Stress-test your trading forecasts
Ensure trading forecasts are robust and structured in a way that you can run sensitivities over key revenue, cost and margin assumptions. Model downside scenarios at different risk levels to understand the potential range of outcomes.


Understand the cash flow impact
Ensuring trading and cash flow forecasts are integrated is an important starting point so that any sensitivities applied to revenue, costs and margins can flow through to cash. Review in detail cash flows for the next three months. This will help establish what funding ‘runway’ you have to get your business organised for the medium/longer term.


Proactively manage your working capital and supply chain
Managing working capital and cash flow will be challenging. Position yourself as best as possible by engaging early with your key customers and suppliers. Assess key trading terms and communicate regularly with these parties to understand their ability to pay you (customers) and maintain continuity of supply (suppliers).


Urgently assess your cost base
Identify the cost levers that can be pulled immediately and other mitigating actions that can be taken to preserve cash in the short/medium term. Consider areas of discretionary spend or non-business critical expenditure that can be deferred or removed from your forecasts.


Be at the front of the queue with your lenders
As a key stakeholder for many businesses, lenders may be able to provide short to medium term relief by way of repayment ‘holidays’ or other concessions. The key is to work out what you need from them and make contact quickly to avoid being caught in the stampede of the numerous requests that the lenders will invariably have to manage.


Identify other stakeholders that may offer support
Similar to lenders, proactively managing your other key stakeholders (including landlords, utility providers and government agencies) is required to retain their confidence and support. Quickly understanding whether rent, tax or other relief is available and your eligibility for government assistance, should be a priority.


Be aware of your obligations as an employer
As an employer it is critical that you understand your obligations and employment policies so that you can best answer employees’ questions. You should consider ‘stand down’ or any paid special leave issues carefully, including the impact on your forecasts. You should obtain advice if unsure of your obligations.