There are more of us than we would like to admit that have experienced both a near closing of your businesses due to a walkout and a full closing of your businesses for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience and tips are outlined below and what I have learned as a business owner who has experienced, (and survived) both.
- Can we just talk about the number of resources that became available to us throughout the pandemic of 2020. Coaches and resources came out of the wood work to help business owners. I didn’t experience this after a walkout. Quite the opposite actually. Its your fault, what did I do wrong, how can I pay the bills, embarrassment over being called the “anti- christ” by former staff, as one salon owner categorized her walkout, abandonment by former colleagues and business associates. BUT, during those webinars and coaching sessions, I learned some strategies during the pandemic that you can utilize if you experience a walkout in the future.
- Credits Only – Put your business and personal bank accounts on “Credits Only” status. This means that money coming in can occur as usual but money going out is blocked until you give your bank approval. My bank even called me daily to tell me what was trying to come through and I could approve or deny it.
- Cancel your bank debit cards – Many of us have several items that are automatically charged to our bank credit and debit cards. Cancel them all and replace them with new cards. I uncovered that one of my acccounts was being charged twice for the same service because it was attached to different email accounts. After canceling, you can renew only the services you want to continue or can afford.
- Call any and every creditor you have. Both personally and business-wise. I didn’t realize this or maybe I was too overwhelmed and too embarrassed. If you can’t get your payment lowered or cancelled, try to get it deferred for a few months. Talk to your landlord and see if they are willing to help out for a few months also.
- Maintain contact with your bank – Maintain communication with your commercial banker. I’ve always done this and was one of the first to receive the SBA, PPP and EIDL grants and loans. Also, during the pandemic a relationship with an SBA approved smaller community lender seemed to be beneficial to getting funds quicker. I now wish I had applied for a lower interest SBA loan after my walkout instead of selling my home. I didn’t realize that you can apply for them from your local bank. The interest rates are lower and repayment terms longer.
- Furlough staff instead of laying them off. After my walkout, I was forced to let some key support staff go. I didn’t realize it didn’t have to be permenant. I couldn’t see that far ahead. If you can lay a staff member off and let them know you will bring them back as soon as business picks back up that can save you alot of heartache and also bring back precious trained staff, instead of letting them go forever.
- Make yourself and key staff employees, NOT independnet contractors – I’ve alway’s preferred this business model even though it cost my business more personally, It is clearer now that it benefits us all in times of need. During the pandemic I had all employees except one, including myself and my husband. We all received unemployment right away. Plus, all of the grants and low interest loans our business received where based on our reported sales and EMPLOYEE counts not our independent contractor counts. My independent contractor had to get in line and wait, and still is. My business is an LLC functioning as an S-corp and as I mentioned myself, my husband and all my staff received unemployment benefits and the PPP grant, the EIDL grant and the SBA loan, so now we are all able to pay our bills, and have a buffer to carry us through the next several months thanks to claiming our earnings and not trying to pocket and hide as much as we can. I will even be able to reward my employees with a forgiven grant from the govenment with a nice bonus to return to work. Being an employee and claiming all your income also benefits you and staff when trying to buy a car, a home, or get a business loan in the long run.
- Reach out to experts in your field. I watched so many videos, webinars and zoom chats of leaders in our field giving free advice and coaching on a daily basis for how to survive and recover from the pandemic. I’m going to start reaching out to these same people to create programs and resources for those of us who need help immediately to survive a walkout. Stay tuned!
- Have money in the bank – I’ve realized that it is crucial for every business. You will have ups and downs as a business owner no matter what. Having $50,000 in the bank as a buffer is crucial to survive a walkout, a pandemic, a lawsuit or a pipe burst.
- Having the government shut you down to protect you, your staff and customers compared to having several people you supported, built, paid before you paid yourself, stayed up at night worrying about, taught everything you know, to now walkout on you, claim you are the anti-christ and block you on all forms of social media, texting and more is way worse financially and emotionally, in my opinion. I have recovered much more quickly financially and emotionally from the pandemic of 2020 than from the walkouts I encountered. I watched a news show about a woman who was being slandered on a youtube channel for being patient 0 and bringing the coronavirus to the US. Her husband explained that going through cancer and cancer treatments was not nearly as bad as the backlash and hatred they received from the slanderous accusations. I get it.
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