For over a week now there has been a growing feeling that the conditions we are living under and our businesses are grappling with will start to ease up. The timescales referred to in Boris Johnson’s speech tonight about the relaxation of the lockdown over the coming months mean that each owner-manager is going to have to make choices about how it plots its return to get trading again. There are some hard decisions ahead. 

I am reminded of Apollo 13, where before returning to Earth they had to work out how to turn on the command module without blowing out their limited electrical supply following an explosion and damage to part of the space vehicle a few days earlier in the mission.  If they turned everything on at the same time, the craft wouldn’t be able to support all the systems and they would blow out the system and they would be stranded in the void of space.

I think this is a fitting analogy for how many businesses will have to view the decisions they take in the coming weeks and months working how to restart different aspects of your operations, bringing staff back from furlough and purchasing supplies again.  All of these increase your costs and how much cash you will burn through.

Back in March we discussed the four broad planning scenarios that phased small businesses, these being:

  • Hibernation
  • Downsize
  • Not affected (much)
  • Potential for expansion

Whichever position your business is in right now, the coming weeks will start to give an indication on the speed in which you come out of that scenario. Some businesses will face a period of fast recovery from little to no trade to a high percentage of their pre pandemic trade.  Others might see that the future shows little to no recovery in the coming months and the road ahead is long to get back up to a reasonable level of trade. At either end of the spectrum businesses will find the challenges ahead too much for their cashflow to cope.  

The next step for all of us is a serious one.  One best taken with as much thought and planning as possible.  The recovery phase is much like any period of growth.  To make money, you have to spend money. It’s a difficult balancing act.  This is really where the money from the bounce back loans is intended to be targeted, funding the capital needed to get through the initial phase of recovery. Of course, short term needs might have taken priority before then.

How did Apollo 13 successfully turn on the necessary equipment on in the command module? An updated checklist that made sure they did the right things in the right order.  Ok they had the advantage of a simulator and a team to test it all in, a luxury we don’t have, but we do have some simple resources available to give you the next best thing.

Below are some thoughts on key aspects of turning the lights back on in your business, and hopefully none of this is rocket science.  With such a diverse range of businesses that may read these we have kept to general points in the hope it provides good food for thought.  

We have also prepared a checklist you can download to give you a head start on your plan of action as your business starts to recover. Input your information below to download this checklist.


‘Preparing to go back to business’ checklist

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For the week ahead, please look out for two things:

  1. If you are self-employed, details of how to check whether you are going to receive a self-employed furlough grant. We will release this on Tuesday night in time for the information being on HMRC’s website on Wednesday
  2. Details of whether the furloughing scheme will be further extended. This needs to be announced by the 16th (and practically speaking probably earlier than that) as companies with over 100 employees have to undertake a 45-day consultation period if they are considering redundancies

We will also be providing more details about some of the issues covered on our checklist next week, so make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletter here.

josh curties our veterinary specialist

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Josh Curties

BA (Hons) FCA

Partner & Principal Adviser

01474 853856

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