10 top tips for businesses working during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 06:14 19 May 2020
Loughton-based Haslers Chartered Accountants’ business services group partner on the ten lessons his company and clients are learning from their Covid-19 lockdown experiences
1. You need reliable and tested remote working capabilities. Fortunately, WFH (working from home for the unitiated) has become far more commonplace in recent years, and we are finding that many businesses have adapted to this ‘new normal’ relatively painlessly. A few, however, have struggled and lessons have most certainly been learnt about the importance of investing in good quality, state-of-the-art kit.
2. You need to be able to easily divert your switchboard or office phones to mobiles. Thankfully there are several apps that can enable you to do this quickly and effectively, and there are also various websites that offer step-by-step instructions on how to divert and forward telephone calls according to your telecoms provider.
3. You need a reliable paperless filing system to give you easy access to information and you also need reliable off-site scanning equipment to enable you to continue to do this over a lockdown. Again, not impossible to organise given today’s technology, but businesses that already have these systems in place are at an advantage.
4. You need accounting in the cloud capabilities and remote access to ensure you can carry on billing, recording expenses and providing critical information as it becomes necessary to do this. For some time we have recommended moving from desktop accounting sytems to cloud accounting systems as these are internet-based, meaning you can access your records anywhere and on any device – those that have done so are now reaping the benefits.
5. You need robust insurance to cover remote working and new ways of working. Spend time researching what policies are out there and make sure you read the small print before committing. For many companies, remote working was already a reality – a recent study showed that it was already the biggest workplace trend, long before Covid-19 reared its ugly head – so said insurance is far from niche. Others, however, will be embracing working remotely for the very first time and who knows, for some, it may beome their ‘new normal’ even after lockdown is lifted.
6. You need sufficient cash reserves to cover essential business expenses for at least three months or more if you are not generating income. It has always been best practice to set aside three times your business’ average monthly spend as your cash reserve and that money was not to be touched. But for some businesses the reality has been different, and those will be the ones that really struggle to stay afloat over the coming few months.
7. You need accurate and adaptable cash flow projections. These forecasts are essentially a breakdown of expected receivables versus payables. It ultimately provides an overview of how much cash your business is expected to have on hand at the end of each month and it needs to easily adapt to give you a good picture of your day-to-day cash position. Some small businesses mistakenly believe such financial projections are just for large corporations, but they should be woven into the fabric of any company, whatever its size.
8. You need a robust database to enable quick and easy communication with your clients/business contacts. Again, this has always been best practice, but now, more than ever, when fast and effective communication is so vital, some businesses are struggling to keep abreast.
9. You must have a Plan B for all future events (‘what if’ plans, if you like) to ensure that you do not get caught out ever again! If there’s one thing this pandemic has shown us all, as individuals and as businesses, is that the unexpected can, and at times will happen and we should never be taken by surprise.
10. Finally – you need a reactive accountant on your side to help you through rough times and to feed you information about Government assistance and to rally for you.