Pandemic Playbook from Amber Engine: Forging Ahead in Financially Trying Times

  •    Author: Mike Jasfer

Navigating the financial landscape of a pandemic is confusing and intimidating – especially for small businesses in the home furnishings industry. It’s hard to look at the company you built/manage and imagine its demise. That’s why we’re offering a few actionable steps to help your outfit stay financially afloat during this difficult time.
 
1.     Assess your risk.
When you know how your company may be impacted in the event of several outcomes, you’ll find yourself in a stronger place. Consider multiple factors when evaluating the well-being of your business, including but not limited to: 
Vaccine development
Re-opening amid virus mutation
A return home order on account of a resurgence or worsening of coronavirus
Staffing changes
Supply chain disruption
Staged return to work orders.
 
In an article for Investopia, Glenn Curtis writes, “It’s an opportunity to better comprehend the size and scope of existing problems and further understand a company’s business model—determining how its strengths and weaknesses come into play. For example, suppose a small business owner discovers that two employees are consistently making mistakes with inventory that cause certain supplies to be over- or under-stocked.”
Uncovering your risks at this time helps you plan for necessary financial adjustments now and simultaneously improve business solutions moving forward.
 
2.     Protect your employees.
If you don’t have a paid sick leave plan in place, this is the time. Find a quality service provider and get quotes for your business. Several PEOs offer the coverage employees need to protect their health and can take additional responsibilities off your company, like payroll and time management.
 
3.     Limit expenses.
This may hurt a bit. Evaluate where your money goes and make necessary exclusions – keeping in mind that your headcount isn’t the first place you have to look.
Can you ask for a temporary service break with utility companies for your empty office building?
Can you suspend bonuses or the 401K match?
Is it possible to reduce pay or hours without sacrificing an employee? If everyone bears a bit of the weight, no one will have to suffer alone.
Halt unnecessary equipment purchases like cell phones, computers and cars.
Stop business travel.
End construction projects.
 
4.     Find Available Cash
Reallocate advertising/marketing dollars to cover critical business expenses and payroll.
Look at outstanding bills and reach out to see if you can renegotiate terms for cash on hand during the crisis.
Adjust your sales strategies and push like crazy to keep money coming in. This may include altering your production line to create a new, timely product for your sales teams to represent.
Apply for available government assistance programs.
 
Before you take a loan on your business, carefully consider whether the financial burden you feel will ease with smarter spending and financial restructuring. Yes, the siren song of cash is tempting, but you don’t want to put your business in jeopardy in the name of indulgence. Everyone is cutting back right now – it isn’t a sign of weakness or doom for the future. It’s a necessary step to save your business while creating comfort for your employees.
The good news is that careful planning not only helps with immediate changes and shifts, but also if a crisis rears its ugly head again. Some doctors predict a resurgence in the fall and winter, this is the time to prepare. And, unfortunately, there are many things beyond the novel coronavirus that could set our businesses back in the future – including natural disasters and other tragedies. Drafting a thoughtful protection plan now helps reduce stress when events beyond our control happen.
Although this situation is emotionally draining and intellectually taxing, try to maintain a positive attitude and reframe the way you see this unprecedented time. This unfortunate crisis offers an opportunity to build a brighter future for your business with the learnings you’re now gathering.  
Author and Consultant Karen Zeigler commented in an interview with American Express, “Crises tend to shake things up, and almost always there is some portion of your business that needs a shaking. Take this opportunity to make sure your business comes out not only having survived the crisis but better because of it.”
 
About Amber Engine: Amber
Engine’s innovative software solutions simplify work and empower
people. The company offers full-service e-commerce solutions for
furniture brands looking to sell in online marketplaces such as Wayfair,
Amazon, Houzz, and many more. For more information contact info@amberengine.com or visit the company’s website.
 

Furniture Industry News and in depth magazine articles for the furniture retail, furniture manufacturers, and furniture distributors.
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