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10 steps to preserve your business

By Tom Gooder, Head of Business Development, Harwood Hutton

The Covid-19 situation has thrown many businesses into turmoil. If you have been too busy putting out fires to consider an overarching crisis management strategy, we humbly offer a 10-step process that may help you to quantify the risks and come up with an appropriate action plan.

STEP ONE – Welfare
Do all you can to ensure the health (physical and mental) and well-being of your employees, your clients and your suppliers. This could range from provision of hand sanitizers on reception to arranging a deep clean of your premises, or simply lending an ear to an upset colleague. If you have a mobile workforce, ensure they have the tools and the knowledge to interact safely with your customers.

STEP TWO – Communication
Keep all channels open, especially with staff and customers. Work out what you want to say, when and to whom. Is there a process in place to reach your internal people, especially if they are working from home? As an example, at Harwood Hutton, we’ve set up WhatsApp groups for special teams. In all your communications, keep the tone calm, reasoned and professional.

STEP THREE – IT Capability
Is your IT system up to the task? Can it handle a surge in remote working? Can you move data to the cloud without fear of security breaches? Now may not be the time for a full-scale IT review but you should seek help to get you up to a basic level of operations. The new ‘normal’ may require remote working for some time.

STEP FOUR – Liquidity
Cash is king, as we constantly remind our clients, and everything needs to be focussed on keeping it coming in and what happens if it doesn’t. Do your budgets, forecasts and projections need to be adjusted in the light of what is happening in the market? How will stoppages or slowdowns effect your ability to meet your financial obligations? If you need to obtain finance, how much do you need and for how long?

STEP FIVE – Leeway
Depending on the answers to your liquidity questions, you may need to extend your credit arrangements. The banks, encouraged by the Government, are trying to be supportive, so speak to your bank contact as soon as you can, even if your need is not imminent.

STEP SIX – Credit Control
This one is always vital. Stay close to your debtors and do everything to ensure they observe your credit terms. Have a plan in place if they don’t.

STEP SEVEN – Risk Analysis
Think about where the biggest dangers to your business might be right now and into the future. Assess the full range of immediate risks and the speed at which each of them is arriving on your doorstep.

STEP EIGHT – Outgoings
If, as tends to happen in a crisis, revenue is badly hit then focus immediately on outgoings. Can you cut back or defer any expense? Review your contracts/terms and renegotiate where you can. Look out for government announcements on what support measures are being put in place.

STEP NINE – Marketing
Review your marketing plan but resist the temptation to rip it up completely, because you need to be ready for when the upswing happens, as it surely will, and perhaps sooner than you think. Remember, in a nervous market where your competitors are cutting back, you can increase your share of voice just by standing still.

STEP TEN – Mindset
Finally, stay positive and look for opportunities: they are often dressed as challenges. Good luck, and if you need some professional advice to help you through this process, please drop me a line.


Awards & Affiliations

Client Testimonials
  • I always get quick, clear and definitive responses from the Harwood Hutton tax team – commercial answers to commercial issues.

    Robin Berry – Morgan Management
  • Right from the outset Harwood Hutton gave us direction and great advice – and that advice has evolved over the years as we’ve grown. We’re both medium-sized companies providing a bespoke service – one furniture, one accountancy – and the relationship works.

    Andy McCarron, McCarron and Co
  • I’m deeply impressed with Harwood Hutton’s extensive knowledge of tax arrangements for residential and commercial property landlords.

    Qadeer Ahmed, MD, ABA Finance
  • They really took their time to understand what was important to us and our business and the expertise we required. Whoever we speak to at HH, we get the same fantastic response and technical input. It’s a real partnership.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
  • I have worked with the directors at Harwood Hutton on a number of mutual client matters over many years. The reassurance of their clear, commercial and focussed advice is one of the main reasons I regard this as one of my most valuable professional relationships.

    Frank Wessely, Partner, Quantuma LLP
  • Harwood Hutton never seem to rest on their laurels. They are always seeking out new avenues and ways to improve their offering. A very forward-thinking company with staff who are always well briefed and who approach each task with drive.

    Karl Austen, MD, Surefoot Communications
  • We have engaged Harwood Hutton in several areas of structuring, including VAT issues, decoupling an SPV from a group structure and HMRC clearance for a transaction. The team have exceeded all expectations by being proactive, measured and very thorough.

    Adam Fawsitt, Director, FHT Limited
  • We moved to Harwood Hutton as they delivered a succinct and professional proposal. If anything, we have been more impressed post-move. They are a fantastic company to work with. They do truly differentiate. They have the skills and capabilities of a mega firm but with a personal service.

    Edward Finch, group MD, MRIB insurance brokers
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