By Jonathan Doochin, Soligent CEO
We have watched unemployment jump to over 17 million people and climbing. Coronavirus is now thought to have an impact on all commerce through September if not through September 2021. As Bill Gates mentions and Morgan Stanley’s research points out, they expect “social distancing reductions in June as diagnostic/serology testing are widely available” and “variable levels of social distancing will remain until a vaccine is widely available in Spring 2021.” Recognizing the world has shifted and the need for next steps has become incredibly important.
As you think about the future of your business, you should plan for the worst-case scenario, be pleasantly surprised when things turn up quicker and work to leverage every resource you have in the meantime.
Here Are 6 Things To Think About:
#1 Build Your Cash Flow Plan. Cash is king because if you have it, you will always live to fight another day as a business. Model three scenarios of what the world looks like with the worst-case scenario being what you plan for and the best-case scenario as what you work to accomplish. Use this to plan your actions by analyzing how you change your cost and revenue inputs to get to a place where the worst-case scenario leaves you still alive and kicking. It helps a leader generate the action steps that are next, for example, layoffs or part-time work changes, no matter how uncomfortable. On page 13 of the presentation I gave on COVID-19 survival, you will find two cash flow models you can use to project out the next few months of cash.
#2 Apply & Receive 8 Weeks of Payroll and Rent Covered by The Paycheck Protection Program. The SBA has been allocated $349B for small businesses with under 500 employees to get 8 weeks of payroll, rent, utilities and for use on covered expenses through the PPP Program. This money is moving exceedingly fast and if you have not applied, you should do so immediately as the funds are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. The SBA dictates a way for this loan to turn to a grant. We have heard that many local banks can move faster than national banks in the submittal process as they can do it by hand. You can read FAQ’s on the treasury site here.
#3 Right Size Your Business. On April 10th SolarWakeup published that sales are down 39% from the pre-corona Q1 average or roughly 50% year over year. Making hard decisions based on cash flow and sales forecast is not enjoyable for anyone but it is necessary to allow your business to survive. Making hard decisions around staffing is usually the largest driver of cash flow. Reducing costs, software or other expenses is incredibly important at this time. Taking the time to ensure there are supervision and reviews in place for all credit accounts and bills. Make a target on savings and try to hit it. Create a list of your expenses by category and rank them in order of smallest to largest and start diving in to reduce each expense.
#4 Employee Leave & Benefits. Each employee is eligible for a few programs under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. If an employee is sick, they can take full leave for two weeks covered by this act through your company. If an employee’s family member is sick or home from school, they can take 2/3 paid leave to take care of their family and are covered in the same way. Each employee must request time off for such reasons as per the guidance of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. Please see the details for FFCRA on the U.S. Department of Labor‘s website. These programs, in addition to state-specific programs and an increase in unemployment benefits for those laid off, help a business leader do what is best for employees while making difficult decisions.
#5 Reinvent Marketing & Sales. Sales and Marketing have never been easy, but now is the time to think creatively to drive leads. Here is our guide to resources available for selling from home and our webinar from Tesla’s top trainer on remote sales, now at LoanPal, teaching the best in class way to sell remotely. Aurora has also posted a great YouTube video and PowerPoint Presentation on remote selling as well.
As people are staying at home, online leads and lead quality are increasing. You should assure your business has a Yelp page, a Google My Businesses page and a Facebook page with credibility and good reviews. Ideally, ensuring your website is set for search engine optimization is a helpful way to maintain a steady stream of leads as well. There are many articles on search engine optimization, such as SEO for Dummies or SEO Cheat Sheet. Each platform mentioned above will let you pay to promote or drive advertising like GoogleAds, Facebook For Business and Yelp Ads. Expertise in these platforms is recommended to drive success and overall results. There are many lead generation sites like Solar Reviews (article), Clean Energy Experts, Modernize and EnergySage (article), as well as different websites comparing different providers. Note that each provider has different costs, exclusivity and conversion metrics that are important. Not all leads are created the same and many are resold many times or sourced poorly. Using your best closer to test closing leads or set appointments should help you understand if the leads are any good.
#6 Find Partners Who Support You. This is where partners differentiate themselves. Give and get support from your bank, your contractors and your friends. At Soligent, we are doing our darndest to ensure we help you with the education process on market research, cash flow planning, funding, employment, virtual resources, remote selling, lead sourcing and marketing. We are here because we deeply care about you and know that this is an unprecedented time where every bit of help matters and counts. Let us know how we can support you, the industry and what other resources you would like Soligent to provide.