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Planning through the crisis: The importance of knowing your organization’s financials [video]

Megan Holmes

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The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights. Click the play arrow above to watch the full video version of the episode. 

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman ordered restaurants, bars, gyms and movie theaters to operate at 50 percent capacity Monday afternoon. Just a day later, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered bars and nightclubs across the state to close for the next month, and ordered the 50 percent reduction in capacity for restaurants statewide. Restrictions around businesses are changing rapidly, and as local organizations feel the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, says planning and thinking about your business in this quiet (or not so quiet) moment in time is critical.

On this episode of Coronavirus Impact Insights, Juliet Kyes of ActionCOACH Tampa Bay shares insights from her work with small businesses, and how their business plans are evolving to meet the changing demands of the crisis.

The number one recommendation from Kyes is to recognize the changing tides, and retool business plans to adjust accordingly. “There can be some great opportunities and positives to this,” Kyes says. “But it’s going to take shifting and realizing you have to change your approach. If you continue on the way that you were just a month ago, you’re not going to have the results that you were a month ago.”

Having a plan is essential to surviving and thriving in a crisis, Kyes says. The key component of proper planning is an accurate understanding of the organization’s financials. Cash flow projections that include risk and possible losses, expenses, staffing costs and non-essentials that can be cut to save money going out should all be considered.

What many organizations don’t realize is that during such crises, they also have the opportunity to reach their existing database in a way they normally don’t, communicating with them often, offering help and support, and utilizing referral partners.

Understanding the organization’s financials is also at the root of communications with employees, investors and relief organizations providing bridge loans. Having those figures straight early can help organizations weather the storm of crises by putting business owners in a position to be able to ask for loans and assistance early.

“It all starts with the projections,” Kyes says. “Until the business owner understands the implications, it doesn’t put them in a position of confidence to start making these conversations happen.”

While many business owners are debt-averse, Kyes advises that during this time organizations are going to need some financial padding. Banks, like grocery stores, Kyes explains, only have so much to give out. It pays to get in early. “Being first there and getting what you need proactively takes knowing your numbers,” Kyes says, “what do I need to do to protect myself if I need to?”

As stimulus and loan programs, like those announced by DeSantis earlier this week, begin to take applications, a keen understanding of a business’ financial picture will be equally important in enabling businesses to get that relief as early as possible, and before it’s gone.

“We’re going to want our businesses to document impact,” Steinocher said. “By understanding financials and scenarios, when it comes to getting access to low cost or almost free bridge money, you’re going to need that data available to show how you were impacted.”

Resources:

St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce: https://www.stpete.com/resource-guide-for-coronavirus-covid-19/

St. Pete Greenhouse: https://stpetegreenhouse.com/prepare/

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