As undoubtedly you are more than aware, the business world faces a new crisis – a global pandemic.

Whilst the general safety of the public and your staff at this time will be of paramount importance to you, you are likely to be confronted with

  • many additional challenges as a business leader; and
  • you will want to be proactively identifying and managing the maximum possible reduction of financial and operational risk at this time to protect your business as far as you are able

All organisations will be seeking means by which they can continue to operate in a marketplace of uncertain and (perhaps dramatically) reduced demand and still be able to pay staff, supply chains and the wider chain of stakeholders in your business, such as Banks and financial institutions.

What follows is an initial list of considerations and advice that Barrons feel might assist you to help sustain and maintain your business operations. It is not expected to be an exhaustive list, different industries and sectors will be facing quite different challenges,  more we are seeking to assist you in considering the opportunities that are available to you to best position your business at this time.

  1. Business Planning and Short Term Funding Requirements
  • First and foremost, do you know what might happen to your business if demand reduces swiftly and for a sustained period?;
    • Are you clear upon your current break even level – and have you considered means by which you might be able to reduce the same if your assessment of demand indicates a shortfall;
  • How long can your cash resources within current facilities support a downturn?
    • Do you operate a rolling 90-day forecast?
    • Have you instructed your accounts team to protect cash as far as possible;
    • Have you considered the need to enter into Crown Time to Pay arrangement as a means of protecting short term cash demands;
    • Have you put in place a “lockdown” on short term, non-urgent expenditure and / or investment
  • And remember, things are changing rapidly, often by the hour, and you need to try to free time to re-assess and re-appraise business positioning
  • Here at Barrons, we want to try to be the trusted adviser and business confidante to help you through the coming challenges to you personally and your business generally:
    • PLEASE do not fall into the trap of leaving important decisions too late; take definitive and decisive action as soon as you are able;
    • We know costs have to be contained and managed sensibly, this is not a marketing campaign
      • As we have always strived to, we will work with you and support however your business needs at this time to try to secure the future;
    • Our focus is upon doing the most we can for you at this time:
      • We have extensive experience and expertise at hand;
      • We have moved quickly to free a team of specialist advisers to help and support you, full details of each are supplied at the end of this communication.

 

  1. Business Continuity Planning
  • Do you have a robust plan in place to ensure that
    • If you are ill, there is someone else that is designated to take control and management of the business;
    • You are able to maintain business as usual should parts of your workforce fall ill or be in self-isolation;
    • Have you considered the impact of temporary loss of (key) staff especially
  • Have you considered the need to communicate with key stakeholders?
    • If you are likely to confront cash issues, communicate with your financiers as early as possible.
    • Barrons has established long term relationships with lenders having put forward many proposals.
      • We are able to draw upon our pool of expertise on your behalf, thus have the ability to negotiate with a full understanding of their requirements to secure banking facilities.

 

  1. Government Support for Business
  • The Government has outlined some initiatives to assist with business through this period, however, they have not provided specific details as to how and when they will be available.
  • These include:
    • a statutory sick pay relief package for SMEs;
    • a Business Rate Relief for small businesses and pubs;
    • small business grant funding of £3,000 for all business in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) and Rural Rates Relief;
    • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance;
    • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme
  • Barrons will continue to monitor the above and update you when they become available

 

  1. Other Considerations
  • Have you a robust “working from home” policy
    • Review your working from home policies to ensure they are fit for purpose
      • For example, are you still able to operate all online banking facilities if you or your accounts team are operating from a home location?
      • Do staff need access to laptops or IT support?
      • Have you asked staff if they are able to connect to key IT systems from home?
      • How will cybersecurity be maintained and backups protected?
      • Establish a communication channel for staff to use through the pandemic eg WhatsApp Group
    • Are you minimising the risk of spread of the infection
      • Are your staff aware of the self-isolation requirements
      • Are all offices and premises being regularly sanitised in common and public areas
    • Are others that you depend upon experiencing unexpected issues that will affect continuity of trade?
      • Are suppliers robust and are they able to display a continuity policy that you can rely upon?
    • If the supplier chain fails, are you familiar with key contract provisions and your rights?

 

  1. IT Support
  • Barrons has a relationship with IT providers who are willing to assist businesses by hiring equipment to facilitate working from home, including a substantial discount on laptop rentals.
  • Please contact us should you require this service

 

  1. Barrons Continuity
  • Barrons has a COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan to try to ensure we can maintain operations, service and support functions at all times
  • This plan will be executed in the event of any office closures or social distancing policies
  • Our team of senior managers and key department heads are being updated daily, and we are working hard to ensure you receive the best level of service we can provide while adhering to any governmental emergency measures
  • Should schools close, or the government ask people to work from home, we believe that our entire team have the right mobile working and technology to enable them to do so
  • Your safety and the safety of our staff is our main priority. We are encouraging our Team to minimise unnecessary travel and to conduct meetings remotely where possible

 

  1. Barrons Team Members – Bespoke Advice for Individual Problems
  • Aside from your usual Partner contact, we have dedicated personnel throughout our organisation to assist with your enquiries and concerns
  • Business Planning & Forecasting
    • Jason Michelow, George Beckwith and Zach Bastow
  • Short Term Cash Forecasting Support
    • Jenny Miller and Lisa Edwards
  • Time to Pay HMRC Arrangements
    • Lisa Garfinkle and Tracy Claydon

Barrons has put together a helpful guide to running your business during the coronavirus crisis.