Are you a business owner trying to make sense of things during this time of unknowns? Are you feeling like you’ve landed on the longest snake in the game of Snakes and Ladders and have slid so far backwards you’re not sure you can even stay in the game? You are not alone.
Sorting through the various government support programs can be a challenge. Thankfully more program details are coming out now and many organizations are putting out information to help you navigate the options. There are a few websites in particular that I would suggest you bookmark so you can keep checking as programs are added or as they evolve. Look specifically for the COVID-19 section on each.
WindsorEssex Small Business Centre – www.windsoressexsmallbusiness.com
Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce – www.windsoressexchamber.org
Leamington District Chamber of Commerce – https://leamingtonchamber.com/
BDC – www.bdc.ca
There are many other good information resources out there, too many to list here.
You may be one of the business owners who doesn’t quite fit into any of the programs that have been announced. What do you do when there’s no “ladder” to help you get back up? I recommend that you take time to get your recordkeeping up to date so that you know exactly where you are at financially. By now you’ve probably already contacted your landlord, your utilities suppliers, your lender, and others to see if there’s any opportunity for payment relief. Hopefully some of your expenses have been reduced, but either way the next step is to add up how much you’re going to need to get through at least two, or perhaps three months. Also calculate any costs you’ll incur to ramp back up once you are allowed to return to normal operations. Add those two numbers together then contact your bank or credit union to begin working on a plan. Let them know the minimum amount you’ve calculated to be able to survive and then have a frank conversation on what your options are. If a loan is an option, even the one with a forgivable portion, be sure to ask what your monthly payment amount will be, when your payments will start, and how long before the loan will be paid back. Then consider, can I afford this?
Unfortunately, the answer will be no for some business owners. Obtaining a loan to survive the crisis will not be helpful if you can’t afford to make the payments once you’re operating at full capacity again. I hope this is not the situation you are in, but if it is, find someone who can work through the numbers with you to help you figure out your best ‘worst case scenario’. Adding more debt may not be the right thing to do.
If you are able to find the resources to stay in the game, just like in Snakes and Ladders, there’ll be wins that help you move ahead and challenges that set you back, but stay focused on playing the game and take the rest in stride.