The UAE Business fraternity has welcomed measures to partially reopen offices. With the Dubai Economy laying out a set of safety guidelines for the same, the business world is slowly back to partial resumption.

For a number of businesses, likely government measures to minimize public health risk may result in a marked decline in demand for products or services accompanied by labor shortages and supply disruptions.

covid 19

Businesses must assume that health authorities will ask people to stay home and may only continue to marginally allow staff attendance to contain the spread of COVID-19. It is presumed that large numbers of the working population will voluntarily stay home which will result in people consuming less and purchasing in different ways.

Staff availability will be a marked challenge especially for businesses where employees cannot work from home. Supply disruptions are highly likely as the business’ suppliers may face similar issues.

Social distancing measures were already put in place in offices across the UAE from early March 2020. However, the safety measures for employees continue to be a priority for all stakeholders.

The crisis was unforeseen and has impacted everyone alike – from corporates to private business owners.

It is understandable that it may take some time before the previous demand level in areas such as general corporate and commercial works is back to normal. The business fraternity will go through periods of adaptation as the world ventures further into unchartered territory

This could place the immediate future of even the most established businesses in serious jeopardy. What further adds to the woes of SME’s is that there is practically no way of knowing how long this pending crisis will last.

As part of a comprehensive risk management strategy, there is a range of actions one should consider taking now to prepare their businesses for COVID-19, in order to place them in the best possible position not only allowing them to navigate through the crisis but also assisting in better preparing to take advantage of the recovery.

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UPDATING FINANCIAL AND MANAGEMENT RECORDS:

It is imperative that in order to make the best possible decisions in a difficult environment, the key management requires access to the most up-to-date information on the state of their business finances. Therefore, we recommend bringing your financial statements up to date and perpetually updating them.

 

IDENTIFYING POTENTIAL IMPACTS ON THE BUSINESSES, KNOWING THEIR FINANCIAL LIMITATIONS, AND DEVELOPING MITIGATION STRATEGIES TO COUNTER THEM.

Assess and discuss the likely impact that COVID-19 may have on your business with your current staff and other key stakeholders; Especially, your suppliers and customers.

The areas most likely to suffer impacts within a business ( in no particular order of appearance) would be:

  • Sales –More likely to be affected if you have little to no online presence.
  • Finance – Especially for businesses whose cash reserves are low or ones that operate on daily cash turnovers.
  • Staff availability – with people likely to be subject to restrictions on their movement, their ability to work will be curtailed, particularly if there is limited scope for them to work from home.
  • Supply chain – This is highly likely to be significantly affected if you rely on suppliers from seriously affected regions and territories.

If your business is already impacted, start by listing what those impacts are. If you are not impacted yet, you should still be able to make some informed projections. In listing those possible impacts, attempt to quantify what those impacts will have on your business and identify possible strategies to mitigate those impacts.

PERFORM A FINANCIAL HEALTH CHECK ON YOUR BUSINESS

As discussed in Point 1, real-time information on the financial health of your business is fundamental in assisting you to decide what you can and should do now in order to help your business navigate through the crisis.

To start with, Financial Ratios carry a significant amount of information derived against the analysis of your financial statements which may serve as a good measure, to judge the financial health and performance of your business

RE-VISITING YOUR BUDGETS WITH REVISED ASSUMPTIONS

The assumptions you may have used to produce your budget are most likely no longer relevant as the crisis prolongs. Working with your Finance Department, you may be able to list the possible impacts of COVID-19 that may have developed against your assessments and re-do your budgets. You may want to include a range of possible previously highly unthinkable scenarios, that may range from projecting a 50 to 80 percent decline in sales over three to six months, or a supplier is unable to supply you a key item for six weeks. Carefully consider how each of these scenarios may impact your cash flows.

ADOPTING A PRO-ACTIVE APPROACH TOWARDS IMPROVING YOUR CASH FLOWS

Having re-visited your budgets and assessing the financial health of your business, including your cash reserves, you are likely to find your business will struggle with cash flow in the near future. You must therefore act now to improve cash flows.

The first step in this regard would be to prepare a cash flow forecast, regularly updating it throughout the crisis, on a rigorous basis, possibly even weekly. This is all likelihood may forewarn you of any cash flow problems allowing you to act early in order to address them

The following tips to improve your cash flow may appear unorthodox and extreme. Some of them are not recommendable solutions under normal circumstances, however, you may soon be operating in an environment you have never experienced:

STOCK MANAGEMENT

  • Take steps to increase sales, especially of stock that may not last three to six months.
  • Focus your promotions on these stock items.
  • Reduce stock orders, particularly stock you assume will be in low demand during the crisis.
  • Increase purchases of stock you think will be in high demand during the crisis.
  • Promote the selling of excess, slow-moving, and/or obsolete stock.

DEBTORS MANAGEMENT

  • Contacting your debtors asking them to pay you, even if before the due date.
  • If your debtors are experiencing cash flow difficulties themselves, be ready to negotiate periodic payments and take steps to ensure they stick to their side of the deal.
  • Avoid delays in invoicing. Invoice as soon as the product or service is delivered.
  • Produce regular Debtor Aging reports and follow up with aged debtors.
  • Reduce debtors by encouraging customers to pay at the point of purchase or to pay early possibly attaching discount conditions to ensure early cash recoveries.
  • Only pay fees to gross sales workers when the cost is acquired on their gross sales.
  • Evaluate gross sales contracts to find out the circumstances below which prospects can cancel orders. If vital, replace the contracts to restrict the power of shoppers to do so.

CREDITORS MANAGEMENT

  • Seek payment extensions, even if temporarily to enhance your credit terms with suppliers.
  • Check your supply contracts to determine the circumstances under which you may cancel orders if necessary, or at least delay their delivery.
  • Negotiate installment plans with tax authorities to improve cash flows.

REDUCING CASH OUTFLOWS

  • Cut spending in areas you believe may be unnecessary in a crisis, such as advertising.
  • Delay unnecessary capital expenditure.
  • Take steps to reduce staff costs by reviewing staffing arrangements. This might embrace decreasing worker or contractor numbers, lowered working hours or implementing a recruitment freeze.
  • Scale back your drawings from the enterprise.

SEEK FINANCE TO FILL CASH SHORTFALLS

  • Communicate to your lenders about introducing or growing your overdraft services. You could take steps to show that you’re on high of your corporation and perceive your money movement.
  • Entrepreneurs might need to assess their very own private money place to see if they’ll inject money into their enterprise.
  • Search out different buyers to see if they’ll inject money into the enterprise.

CHANGE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

  • Have a look at other ways to ship your services or products to your prospects.

ASSET MANAGEMENT

  • Promote or lease out property that you simply don’t want.

A few of these actions could also be detrimental to your corporation within the restoration stage. Hold a watch open for modifications within the surroundings so that you could return to regular enterprise operations shortly.

covid 19

INCREASE ONLINE SALES

The put up COVID-19 expertise has proven that prospects are prone to keep dwelling (whether or not on the directions of well-being authorities or by selection), and due to this fact, buy extra on-line.

To stay viable, many small companies might want to start promoting on-line or no less than considerably improve their on-line gross sales. A key step in getting ready for the disaster is investigating via totally different on-line platforms to see which one finest serves you must promote your merchandise and cut back your reliance on your store entrance.

You also need to overview how finest to ship your merchandise to the shopper. Your accountant might be able to help you with these essential concerns.

Suppliers of companies ought to examine digital options to the supply of companies to cut back the necessity for head to head contact. Consequently, chances are you’ll select to shut a few of your bodily areas.

TALK TO KEY SUPPLIERS

Speak to your key suppliers about their means to ship items or companies reliably through the disaster. Take into account not solely their means to supply the inputs you want, but in addition, the transportation of the merchandise to you and hold to the agreed prices/costs. In case your suppliers are based mostly in a location most affected by COVID-19, their manufacturing might have severely suffered, and their means to get these provides to you is perhaps restricted. Consequently, this key provides take longer to reach.

If there are additional import restrictions based mostly on product origins, chances are you’ll assess the time spent at customs clearance factors earlier than you’ll be able to utilize the products. In such situations, you need to take into account organizing various suppliers, together with native suppliers even when dearer. You could need to supply them now and begin worth negotiations early

IDENTIFY EMPLOYEES WITH CRITICAL SKILLS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Take into account which of your staff aren’t simply replaceable towards enterprise capabilities that must hold working regardless. Search for others who can study the duty. Outsourcing could also be another resolution. The place such staff can make money working from home, ensure that they take the gear (similar to a laptop computer) they should make money working from home, with them each night time in case it’s important to shut your premises quickly discover.

Take into account growing a particular roster in order that important workers are at all times accessible to maintain important enterprise programs and processes operating.

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MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE

There is a selection of key indicators which is able to shortly let you know how your corporation is monitoring. They may very well be so simple as the worth of every day gross sales, or the money stability or the debtors’ stability, or the worth of orders and bookings. Create a graph exhibiting these key indicators and replace them every day or no less than weekly. It’ll shortly present you with any developments as they emerge.

DO A REALITY CHECK ON YOUR BUSINESS

Use the disaster as a possibility to replicate on your corporation, the way it was being run, how you want to it to run put up a disaster, and whether or not it’s nonetheless best for you. Inquiries to ask your self embrace:

  • Had been you cheerful operating your corporation earlier than the disaster?
  • Had been you making the revenue you wished?
  • Do you want to be your personal boss?
  • Was there enough cashflow within the enterprise previous to the disaster?
  • Are you reaching the return on the funding you need from your corporation?
  • Are you ready for the potential additional calls for that recovering your corporation will place on you, each personally and financially?
  • Are you able to afford to proceed to run the enterprise whereas your corporation is recovering?
  • Are you able to foresee any doable rising alternatives for your corporation following the disaster?

IF YOU ARE IN FINANCIAL DIFFICULTY, SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE EARLY

Throughout the disaster, repeatedly ask your self the next questions:

  • Is your corporation capable of pay your collectors, your tax obligations, employment obligations and make mortgage repayments as they develop into due?
  • Do you’ve enough monetary reserves to cowl money owed due and payable within the subsequent few months?

In the event you reply no to those questions, you need to instantly search for a skilled recommendation, as your organization could also be bankrupt or close to bankrupt.

There are dangers for those who proceed with your organization whereas it’s bankrupt. Getting a recommendation from a registered liquidator, or your accountant or lawyer to grasp the complexities of this space is essential. In case your small enterprise is in monetary problem, be very cautious of anybody cold-calling you, promising monetary salvation. Such folks might advise you to intentionally liquidate your organization to keep away from paying money owed and proceed with your corporation via a brand new firm.

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