Businesses will change direction, diversify and even fail. Thus, seek advice from industry bodies, Government sources, charities and industry peers. Where is your industry going? How will it change and diversify? Is it time to cut your losses and start afresh? Could you join forces with an aligned brand or service? Is there a way to put the business ‘on ice’ financially, or take out a loan? (America’s Small Business Administration has for example begun offering disaster assistance loans.) Your old business, pre-COVID-19, may not exist anymore. What may grow from this change – what does the new business offering look like?
There are many sources of assistance and advice available for SMEs, for example:
Your insurer – if you have ‘notifiable infections disease’ cover for your business, you should be entitled to make a claim; however, ‘general conditions’ cover is unlikely to be considered, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, other policies could be relevant, e.g. ‘key person insurance’ (e.g. that pays out if a senior worker is unable to work), as well as event abandonment and cancellation cover.
The bank - banks are generally being instructed by their Governments to take a sympathetic approach to SMEs; ask them about credit facilities and loan terms. The European Innovation Council has for example set aside a significant amount of money for ‘Fast-Track EU Funding’, for SMEs whose services could help in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the British Business Bank has set up a ‘Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme’.
Your tax authority – seek out your territory’s tax authority for advice, as these exceptional circumstances may warrant an extension in paying tax commitments.
Your landlord – if you rent a property, discuss rent freezes or other options.
Your business expenditure – some organisations are offering assistance. For example, Facebook has announced a $100 million programme to aid SMEs, in the form of cash grants and advertising credits.