As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on businesses of all sizes, business continuity is a rising concern. With a number of businesses needing to close or reduce operations in the interim, many business leaders are fighting to keep their businesses alive.
To navigate through these uncertain times, it’s critical for leaders to ensure their organizations create or update their protocols for business continuity, business emergency preparedness, and crisis communications, among other contingency plans. The following resources can be accessed for free:
Business emergency/disruption planning
Monitoring your cash flow
A vital piece of business continuity is a steady cash flow, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises. In a recent interview with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Huey Lee, CPA, CMA, partner at KPMG, provided his recommendations for dealing with cash on hand during the current COVID-19 pandemic, where circumstances are constantly in flux.
“In times where there’s uncertainty, it’s important to know what you cash position is. What are your cash needs and what scenarios can affect your working cash capital?” says Lee.
Lee insists that, even without a financial advisor, businesses can review their cash flow to identify their working capital needs. This involves determining the business’ regular sources of income and expenses paid.
From there, a company can do some stress testing, conceptualizing situations of reduced cash flow to get an idea of how everything else would be affected in various scenarios. Lee believes that business leaders should prioritize what payments absolutely need to be made and identify the areas where finances can be stretched a bit.
The most important thing, Lee says, is to let suppliers and vendors know that you’re not forgetting about them. By taking the time to have the tough conversations with them, you’re demonstrating your commitment to getting through these times responsibly.
Lee stresses the importance of effective communications with all stakeholders, and leading the conversations. “Under the ‘no surprises rule’, do as much as you can to control the narrative to get in front of your customers, your suppliers, and your lenders.”
Government resources for businesses affected by COVID-19
The Government of Canada has been taking strong action to support Canadian business during the COVID-19 crisis. These actions include the following:
- The Governor of the Bank of Canada has cut the interest rate to 0.75% and the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has announced an additional $300 billion in lending capacity by the major banks.
- A new Business Credit Availability Program to make more than $10 billion available to Canadian businesses in financing and credit insurance solutions through:
- The Canada Revenue Agency will defer tax payments to August 31, 2020, to help businesses with cash flow.
- Immediate relief for small businesses with a 10% wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
- A new Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks for self-employed people and others who are not eligible for EI sickness benefits.
- Increased credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
The Government of Canada’s Work-Sharing (WS) program is designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.
Recently, the Government of Canada has introduced temporary special measures that extend the maximum duration of WS agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for organizations affected by the downturn in business due to COVID-19 and for the forestry and steel and aluminum sector.
Visit the COVID-19 Updates and Resources for CPAs site for regular updates and useful tools as we continue to support each other during these challenging circumstances.
Vince Kanasoot is a communications specialist with the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia.