Not sure if your business can keep going? Here’s some tips to consider
Even before COVID-19, businesses faced many challenges. Interruptions in cash flow, customers who don’t pay on time, and seasonal fluctuations in demand all create problems for business owners. No matter the size of your business, it seems similar challenges exist.
During these unprecedented times, many business owners have been able to adapt their services to continue meeting customer’s needs, however, you may still be considering having to close your business. We’ve outlined some steps to take when considering whether to continue, or close the doors.
Complete a SWOT Analysis
You may be familiar with the term, or it may be new to you. A SWOT analysis is a technique to assess your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s an objective look at these four aspects of your business. There are many online tools to help, but it is something that you, as the business owner will want to do yourself, and depending on the size of your firm, you may find it helpful to gather input from others.
Once you have a better understanding of your business challenges, you are ready to plan.
Consider the Long-Term Business Plan
Pre-pandemic, your business might have been rolling along just fine. Or your business plan may have needed some updating. No matter where you are in your business cycle, you should always have a current business plan. A business plan provides not only a map to plan your trajectory, but a yardstick by which to measure your performance. Just like taking a road trip, you need to know where you plan to end up. If you get lost, you’ll need to find your way back to your route. A business plan can act as your guide.
You don’t need to hire someone to create your business plan for you – there are many not-for-profit organizations available to help. Anywhere in Canada, you can contact your local Community Futures office. In Manitoba, you can reach out to community organizations such as the World Trade Centre, or the Women’s Enterprise Centre. In NWT, you can reach out to the Business Development & Investment Corporation.
Be sure to consider all the challenges your business will face, and what you will do to counter those. Are you in a highly competitive industry? Identify how you will differentiate your services. Has demand for your product stagnated? Consider a redesign, or a secondary market for your product. Should you consider diversifying, or eliminating under performing business lines? Some of the significant success stories in the current pandemic environment are those where a re-tool permitted manufacturers to remain in business, while supporting public health. Be creative but realistic as you consider how best to continue in business.
Once you have your business plan prepared, or updated, you should have a clear vision of what steps you need to take to succeed.
Investigate Funding options – both traditional and pandemic related
Many levels of government are supportive of business, no matter the size. In the post-pandemic era, businesses are facing liquidity and cash flow issues, despite being a viable business. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out to your banker, member of parliament, or local business resource centre (see our links above) to see if there is funding for which you may qualify. In Manitoba, you can check the provincial business portal for assistance. In NWT, you can check the Resources for Business page. In Yukon, you may find help at the Support for Yukon businesses page.
Sometimes an honest evaluation of your business plan may reveal that your business is not viable. Be sure to contact a Licensed Insolvency Trustee if you anticipate your company will struggle to meet its debt obligations. You may be surprised to learn that all companies are eligible to attempt a restructuring plan using the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Since each business is unique, you are best to contact an LIT to discuss the specifics of your situation.