A To Do List for Local Business Owners

Many of our friends with businesses in Lake Travis and in Austin have had to shutter their doors for the time being—leaving many business owners concerned about their immediate future but also trying to figure out what they can be doing while the stay at home order is in effect. Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you! This downtime is a perfect (albeit forced) opportunity to evaluate various aspects of your business and plan for the future. While you may not be physically at work, businesses can continue working on their future. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

(1) Review your business interruption insurance.

Generally, business interruption insurance protects businesses from lost revenue caused by disasters and emergencies. However, these policies are rarely identical. Take a second to review your business interruption insurance policy (or rider) to determine whether the policy has an inclusion or exclusion that could apply in the current circumstances. If after reading the policy you are unsure about your coverage, contact the insurance company and ask. They should be able to guide you through the policy coverage.

(2) Consider whether any provisions in the federal stimulus package would benefit your business.

Currently, two provisions in the federal stimulus package appear to be beneficial to small businesses and their employees. The first provision provides extra relief (up to $600 per week) in unemployment benefits to employees and to independent contractors connected to your business. This provision may provide some relief to business owners who are concerned about the employees they had to furlough due to the closure of their business.  The second provision provides loans through the SBA and local banks to help small businesses cover payroll and to restart their business after the stay at home order is lifted.  Both of these provisions are important considerations for businesses struggling to make payroll during the closures and keep key employees from seeking other employment so that they may re-open with those key employees.

The federal stimulus package also provides relief for businesses in the form of entrepreneurial assistance, emergency grants, and debt relief.

(3) Create an emergency preparedness plan for the future.

Surely, no one anticipated the incredible commercial disruption we are currently experiencing. However, you now have one global pandemic under your belt, and you are learning how to deal with these challenges through baptism-by-fire. Take a moment to reflect on what has transpired, the challenges your business has faced, the management mistakes that have been made, the obstacles you have overcome, and the lessons you learned (and are learning). Let this experience be the starting point for your business’s emergency preparedness plan so that in the future, you can be better prepared to face these unexpected challenges.

While it seems unlikely that we will face another challenge like this, on the same scale, in our lifetimes, know that your business is likely to face other disasters over the coming years.

(4) Create a post-pandemic business plan.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel. We may not be able to see it right now, but I assure you it is there. Take a deep breath, and switch your mind into problem-solving mode. Now is the time to make a plan for the future.

Start simple. Make a plan for increasing revenue and a plan for decreasing expenses. Review your previous marketing efforts, identify what worked and didn’t work, and expand on that. Consider new ideas to bring people in the door. On the other side of this equation, assess your expenses, identify frivolous spending, make a note of bills or vendor contracts to negotiate, and consider whether your expenses are important investments in your business. In short, identify where to expand and where to trim the fat!

Lake Travis and Austin residents have expressed a sincere interest in helping our local economy and keeping local businesses running. If we can use this time productively, we can be ready to tap into that market as soon as the COVID-19 threat lifts.

(5) Identify Opportunities to Give Back.

There are so many first responders who are putting their lives on the line, people who are not fortunate enough to have the resources to survive this crisis, occasionally setting aside the planning and worry and seeing if you and your family can provide assistance to help someone else may be one way to alleviate cabin fever.

Please stay safe.

Have any ideas for helping local businesses and business owners? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

By: Danielle Taylor, Attorney of Thrash, Carroll & Vanyway Law Group