We previously addressed how we, as a firm, were taking extra measures and precautions around our office to keep you and our staff as safe and healthy as possible amidst the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. In only a matter of weeks, it has turned into a global pandemic impacting everyone and everything. Communities everywhere are left reevaluating what is essential and what can be put on hold to prevent the spread.

Despite the uncertainty, we are all feeling, as a business owner there are steps you should be taking to protect yourself, your employees, and your business. Here are some recommendations you should be thinking about to help you navigate these challenging times:

1. Practice and Promote Social Distancing

Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local governments are instructing employers to establish policies and practices to promote social distancing. This includes flexible worksites (working from home) and flexible schedules (staggering shifts) to create physical distance between employees. Offering and taking appointments via phone or virtual meeting and not in person is highly recommended as well. At the time of this writing, by the federal government, is discouraging gatherings of more than ten individuals. As an employer, it should be a top priority to create a healthy and safe work environment. It is important to keep a clean and sanitized facility where your business takes place. Failure to do so could damage your business’ reputation in your community.

2. Evaluate Contracts

Knowing there will be a sweeping economic impact from this pandemic and that many businesses and individuals will have a decreased cash flow, it is likely that contractual obligations will be questioned. Therefore, you should review your existing contracts to determine (1) if the spread of COVID-19 will impact your or the other party’s ability to fulfill the contract, (2) whether the contract has language that addresses possible delays, and (3) how a party may end or ensure the performance of the contract. More specifically, this may involve reviewing the provisions in the contract regarding unforeseeable circumstances preventing a party from fulfilling its obligation. After review, it may be best to reach out to the other party to decide how to best move forward. Please keep in mind that many businesses are facing the same challenges as you are, and it is likely not in anyone’s best interest to terminate a contract. Working together to solve the problem could create an opportunity to alleviate stressors that both parties are feeling given the extenuating circumstances. Keep in mind that the contracts being discussed may need to be revised to reflect the new direction being taken.

3. Communicate Clearly with Employees

When creating your COVID-19 related changes it is imperative that you, as a business owner, make policies to keep your employees focused on your primary business objectives. With this ever-changing crisis, it is important to create plans where you attempt to consider many possible steps your business may need to take as changes to state and federal regulations are occurring. These initiatives should be documented, and you should also review other procedures that may be relevant during this specific crisis. When this is completed and you are implementing your new policies, it is imperative that you communicate these changes as clearly and quickly as possible to employees. This may include hosting a virtual meeting to ensure all employees understand and have the opportunity to ask questions about the new procedures your company decides to take.

4. Consider Applying for Specific Coronavirus Small Business Loans and Other Relief

Due to the significant economic impact of COVID-19, the federal government has taken steps to make disaster relief loans more accessible to small business owners.[1]  If you will need assistance to meet commitments like utility payments and payroll, your small business may be eligible for small business loans with interest rates as low as 3.75 percent. You should consider applying for one of these loans through the Small Business Administration if you are facing significant challenges in meeting your business obligations. It should also be noted that the federal and state tax filing deadlines have been extended into July in response to the pandemic. Please seek advice from your accounting and financial professionals for guidance.

5. Business Plan Reviews and Revisions

It is likely that COVID-19 will impact almost everyone in the country’s bottom line. Therefore, this is the time to review your overall business plans. This is the time to brainstorm and generate new ways to increase income and decrease expenses. You should look into other ways to bring in monies to offset losses that will occur as a result of this crisis. Lastly, this pandemic has brought to light more now than ever, the need for a mobile and digitally accessible office. Use this time as an opportunity to review your business plans and look for ways to strengthen your virtual capabilities.

Helping Hand

Our firm is here to help in any way possible during this difficult time. Please understand in this time of uncertainty, that it is unchartered territory for all of us. However, at Smith Barid, we are dedicated to helping you through challenging times as much as we are prosperous times. Please reach out to us at any time if we can help bring clarity to what is required to comply with federal and local mandates while keeping your business moving forward. We will get through this together.

We are located in Savanah, GA, but accessible by simply calling 912-244-7581, emailing info@smithbarid.com, or scheduling a consultation to let us know how we can help.

[1]  SBA Updates Criteria on States for Requesting Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19), U.S. Small Bus. Admin. (Mar. 17, 2020), https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/sba-updates-criteria-states-requesting-disaster-assistance-loans-small-businesses-impacted.