Getting through the Next Business Crisis: Will You Be Ready?

Making it Through the NEXT Business Crisis

DangerWouldn’t it be nice if your enterprise could stand the test of time and rise to become an iconic brand — instantly recognizable for its steadfast presence over decades?


Sure, it’d be nice, but it is statistically unlikely. In the 1950s a business could be expected to last about 60 years, a recent study found that today’s luckiest companies make it only to the 20-year mark. And of course we’ve seen so many companies lose the battle during the COVID era.


So what drives longevity? Let’s take a look at a few key considerations that can help you get to the 20-year mark… and beyond. These steps won’t make you invincible, but they can put you in a better position to respond, recover, and — ultimately — thrive. 

Engage in Planning

Planning is an essential aspect of any business’s financial stability. This doesn’t just mean having a static business plan in place. It will take agile preparation to meet the unexpected and recover. 


Being truly “Engaged” in planning should include: 


  • Monthly Financial Statement Reviews

Your financial statements (P&L, Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows) are not just useful to tell you the current financial state of your business: they can also be instrumental in helping you understand the trends and future direction of your business. Using financial statements regularly means charting what has changes, and digging deep to understand what’s working and what is not.


Want a secret tip? Get a CFO or CPA to review your balance sheet regularly. The balance sheet holds the key to good bookkeeping, and knowing how to “read” the balance sheet will elevate your understanding of your business.


  • Spending: Visibility and Controls

Even highly profitable companies need to keep spending under control (and to build savings for resilience).


Having up to date books in software that is accessible to the leadership team in real time is an important first step.


Reviewing expenses in real time allows you to see where controls are needed before its too late. Seek to collect expense receipts and supplier invoices as early as possible so that these can be included in real-time reports. 

Invest in the Intangible

A solid financial underpinning that influences longevity is not just focused on cash. Remember that some of the most valuable assets in your business are intangible. Use and nurture them in ways that will help your business recover from a disaster. 


This should include: 


  • Talent Development

Your employees’ talents and abilities will make or break your business, particularly when other things are not going well. Investing in your human capital boosts their economic value to your company on a day-to-day basis, and during hard times. Prioritize education and training to increase productivity and innovation.


But there’s more that makes your people resiliant — the relationships and bonds they build throughout the company can breed loyalty and commitment. Creating paths for career progress demonstrates that your business cares about employees, reduces turnover and attracts more valuable talent. The stronger your talent development, the stronger your business will be in the long term. 


  • Brand Value

Your brand can be one of the most important intangible assets you have when times get tough. This goes beyond a good name and a great logo — although those things can certainly help. For your brand to help you through periods of uncertainty, you need to ensure that it is a byword for professionalism, trust, and expertise with the public, employees, and the industry alike. 


Utilize marketing channels to make authentic connections with stakeholders and build your profile. Keep brand development as a key factor throughout projects, changes, and planning.

Having Backups 

In a commercial environment that so often sees businesses fail, it is likely that your business is going to come up against unexpected challenges. While you should be preparing to prevent the worst from disrupting operations at all, it is vital to have backup resources to help carry the load of a disaster. These can ensure that you have the financial assets to cushion the blow and allow your business to move swiftly from survival into recovery. 


These backups should include: 


  • Insurance

Every business should have the basics covered with physical (fire / hazard) and professional (liability) insurance. But knowing how much to hold and when to change is important. Review your business insurance coverages regularly,


Property and contents insurance might cover the physical assets, but business interruption insurance accounts for the other losses you might incur due to the inability to operate. Review the potential for disruption, and insure accordingly. 


  • Credit

The COVID pandemic demonstrated just how much financial difficulty businesses can get into when their income stream is disrupted unexpectedly. While this kind of issue is rare in the grand scheme of things, it can still be wise to access financing that will help you get through the most challenging months until you regain your stability. 


It’s wise to consider a blended form of emergency funding that stems from different sources — small loans, investors, emergency savings, supplier credit. Review what approach is most suitable for your business’s circumstances, and where possible make arrangements in advance.    


Longevity in business is not to be taken for granted. It takes work to increase your resilience, and that starts with putting financial strategies in place. Frequently engage in agile planning, develop your intangible assets, and put robust emergency financial cushions in place. There’s never any guarantee to avoid disaster, but you can improve your response. 

About Guest Blogger Sam Bowman
With a degree in entrepreneurship, Sam has built his freelance writing business in both print and digital media. Sam knows the “hustle” mentality and has seen the world roll through turmoil, successes, elections and generation changes. He chronicles these changes in the business sector through research and education.

Act Now: Cash Planning for the Coming Recession (w/ free template)

Officially, we are NOT in a recession…Yet.

But based on how fast things have been moving during the last few weeks, there is no time to “wait and see” what happens to the economy.

You need a Covid Crisis Cash Plan TODAY.

Getting through any crisis requires you to “Model, Imagine, and Act” to preserve the cash flow of the company. Here’s what you should be doing NOW.


In times like these, a simple XL model is your best friend. I’ve not yet met any accounting software that can do a decent job of projecting the future, but you can — with a simple cash plan model in XL. I’ve built the template for you (XL Template, or Google Sheets Template) and you can modify it in about 20 minutes. Here’s how:

  1. Download a simple XL Cash Plan template here (XL / Google Sheets). It has 4 tabs: “Cash Plan”, “P&L”, “Sales” and “Wages”. Next we’ll copy data into this template from 3 simple reports you can generate from your accounting software.
  2. Run a report for your Income Statement By Month (Cash Basis). Use this to complete the “P&L” tab.
  3. Run a report for your Sales by Customer by Month — again Cash Basis. Use this to complete the “Sales” tab. You can skip this part if you are a retail store or do not know your customers by name.
  4. Finally, Run the Wages by Employee report (By Month and cash basis) and use that to complete the “Wages” tab.
  5. NOTE: These three tabs are for detailed planning. The template will help you fill out the Cash Plan tab where you’ll see the results. Or…if you really want to sprint through this, skip the detail tabs and see if you can simply use your reports to complete the “Cash Plan” tab.

Once you have these fundamentals, you can begin projecting the future. The template is set up for 3 prior months and 3 future months, but you could copy entire columns to make it as large as you need.


Start with the “Sales” tab. Do you believe that the COVID crisis will reduce your sales? Perhaps, as in my case, each of your customers is a bit different. I have clients in the restaurant industry that are likely to close up shop. Others, in healthcare, might actually need more help in the coming weeks.

Guess at the income you’ll receive from each customer in the coming 3 months (or more if you’re brave). And remember — this is cash basis. So if a client has been slow to pay in the past, you may want to project even slower payments in the future.

Now switch to the “Employees” tab and swallow hard. If sales decline in the way you’ve modeled, do you need all your current employees? Cut a few heads and see what happens.

On the “P&L” tab, your job is to strip out any expenses you don’t need. Extra software licenses? Slash-em. Paying for a co-working space you don’t use? Cancel it. Cleaning services? Water delivery? Cut cut cut. Project the expenses over the next 3 months or more and tally it up. When you’re done, you really only need two numbers from this page: non-payroll cost of goods, and non-payroll overhead. (Remember, you dealt with payroll above)

Put it all together on the “Cash Plan” tab. A lot of the cells will already have information in them because I built it to do that for you. But others need your input. Copy the non-payroll expenses you just calculated into the right rows.

And finally, put your bank account balance at the space near the bottom.

Cells with bold blue type are calculated for you.

When it’s done, you need to focus on available cash — the bank account balances projected into the future.

Have you cut enough expenses to survive?

Play around some more with different scenarios — showing more clients leaving (or not). See how things might go.


With a good plan in place, don’t hesitate to implement. The worst part about economic slowdowns is that you don’t see them until it’s too late. This one is different. It is here. Now. People are not eating out, going to movies, flying to vacations, shopping, or even driving. The change has been earthshaking, and the more dangerous aftershocks are on the way.

Start making calls to trim your overhead. Can you sublease some space? Can you live without delivered water? You modeled the reductions — make it happen.

Finally, separate your staffing reduction plan into phases — cutting too soon could endanger work that’s on your desk now. (But cutting too late is worse.) Decide now what the triggers are. Then stick to them.


“Stay Safe” seems to be the new touch-stone for the Coronavirus age. It applies to a company’s economic health as well as you physical health. Be conservative, act rationally but quickly. Stockpile cash. Keep selling.

I hope this model is helpful, and invite you to call or email me with any questions or challenges.

Stay safe — and we’ll see you on the other side of this crazy time.


Families First Act signed — Important Changes to Small Business Paid Time Off and FMLA

We’re breaking from our usual blog format to bring you breaking news about the first large economic stimulus package from Congress during the Covid crisis.

The Families First Act has introduced paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave to small employers.

President Trump signed the bill late on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.  It is set to sunset on December 31 of this year. In the meantime, it creates broad new responsibilities for small business owners.

If you have fewer than 500 employees (yes, you read that right — FEWER than 500 employees!) you MUST comply with these new rules by April 1.

The new bill has two parts: 

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave 
  • Emergency Paid Family and Medical Leave Expansion 

PART 1: Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act 

  • Applies to ALL private employers with fewer than 500 employees 
  • Applies to all government employers regardless of size 
  • Full and part-time employees are covered 
  • Employees are NOT required to have obtained a minimum length of service to be entitled to paid leave 
  • Full-time employees are eligible for two (2) weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave 
  • Part-time employees are eligible for two (2) weeks paid leave — the number of hours they will be paid is based on their average number of hours worked in a normal 2 week period (use 6-month average if hours fluctuate) 

NOTE:  This time is for true health absences only. Other ‘furloughs’ or layoffs are covered by state unemployment laws, many of which have already been amended to be more leinient during this crisis.

Employees may use Emergency Paid Sick Leave for the following reasons: 

  1. To comply with local/state/federal quarantine or isolation order 
  2. To self-quarantine, if employee has been advised to do so by healthcare provider 
  3. To obtain a medical diagnosis or treatment if employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 
    **Total paid leave for items 1,2, and 3 above is capped at $511 per day and $5,110 in aggregate.
  4. To care for an individual who is advised or required to quarantine (not limited to family members) 
  5. To care for employee’s child if school or childcare provider has been closed or is unavailable due to COVID-19 
  6. To care for a similar condition, as determined by Secretary of Health and Human Services 
    **Total paid leave for items 4,5, and 6 above is capped at $200 per day and $2,000 in aggregate.

PART 2: Family and Medical Leave Expansion 

  • Applies to ALL private employers with fewer than 500 employees 
  • Applies to all government employers regardless of size 
  • Full-time and part-time employees are covered. 
  • Employees must have 30 calendar days of service before the first day of leave to be covered by family and medical leave expansion 
  1. Employers are required to provide up to 12 weeks of job protected leave under FMLA for COVID-19 
  2. The first ten (10) days of FMLA leave may be unpaid; however, employees may choose to use accrued paid leave (employer cannot require) 
  3. After the first ten (10) days, employer must pay employee not less than two thirds (2/3rds) of regular rate of pay.  Employees who work part-time or irregular hours are paid pro-rata based on the number of hours the employee worked in the prior 6 months before taking leave. If employee has worked less than 6 months, then use the reasonable expectation on the number of hours the employee would have worked. 
  4. Total paid leave may not exceed $200 per day and $10,000 in aggregate 
  5. Employees taking this leave are entitled to job protections similar to regular FMLA 
  6. Employers with 25 or more employees will have same obligation as regular FMLA to return employee to same or equivalent position after returning from leave. If the employee’s position no longer exists due to economic downturn, the employer must make efforts to return employee to work for one year after the leave. 

**There is an exemption for small businesses with less than 50 employees if requirements would jeopardize the viability of the business. 

Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave 
Employers are entitled to a refundable tax credit equal to 100% of the qualified Sick Leave wages and Emergency Family and Medical Leave wages paid by employers for each calendar quarter. The aforementioned caps on the wages will apply to the tax credits. 

Testing for COVID-19 
Private health plans—including insured, self-insured, and grandfathered—must provide coverage for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related services to employees and covered dependents without cost sharing (deductibles, copayments, etc.) 

And More…
Here’s a good source from a law firm that has much more detail on the FFA.

This is a comprehensive piece of legislation and there are other sections that deal with government programs, etc. Much of the implementation will rely on further guidance.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that all small business owners make plans now to provide the much-needed sick and FMLA time to employees who are impacted by the Corona Virus.

Here’s to (y)our health.

The Fuse Crew