Member stories: Paul Donno FMAAT – keep calm and carry on

Paul Donno FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant and Council Member gives his perspective on battling through the pandemic.

Without a doubt, we are facing an unprecedented difficult time as small business owners trying to make money for ourselves, family and staff.  We will more than likely have to make some cutbacks and decisions that go against the grain.

Ours is a family business. My wife, my two daughters and I all work there and depend on it. We have very strong family values and hope that they come across in everything that we do and that is the core of our business.

Unfortunately, we will know someone who may well lose a loved one through this virus and we will be there to help them and support them.  My Dad has been in poor health and we worry continuously about him getting this virus, but we are there supporting him and my Mum by phoning at least once a day and doing the shopping when necessary.

We may catch this virus,  but it is something we will recover from.  After this pandemic, we will need to live again and we need to plan for that time, not just obsess about problems and uncertainties now.

Here are my tips – aimed at small businesses in particular – to get through this.

Positivity

Ration your news intake and limit it to balanced, reliable sources. I would suggest that you limit the news especially Facebook (I find this difficult) and get on with your life.

Plan ahead 

Take this time to plan, plan, plan you will need a great plan to cope in a couple of months.

Look for the small wins and keep your overheads covered, when this finishes in a couple of months people will want to engage with you and get some proper human contact.  Now is not the time to increase prices – people won’t forget.

Pivot

Ask yourself how can I sell toilet paper? What do people need at this point in time?  We have seen some great examples in and around Haverhill (the town where I live) of businesses delivering coffee, cakes, freshly baked bread to those that are self-isolating or are vulnerable. If customers can’t come to you, you may be able to go to them – but keep checking Government guidance.

We have changed our business model to treat businesses’ immediate needs as a priority above our normal day to day work.  We are all in this together.

Periscope up!

Watch China and see what they are doing, they are in front of us and will be showing the rest of the world what is next and how their economy is starting to bounce back.

Watch out and listen to the people that have had this virus and how they have quickly recovered from it.

Communicate

Tell your customers what you are doing and if you are hurting tell them that too as you need everyone’s support now and when you get through this.

If you have a team keep them up to date as you need them as much as they need you.

Do not cut back on marketing if anything, increase your marketing and keep your message going.  Tell your investors and suppliers what is happening and ask for help if needed.

Cash is King

You will need cash more than ever now and securing your cash is paramount. 

Today I have put together a forecast for a client with some “what-if scenarios” and I will be working with them to get them through this difficult period with the knowledge that they also need to be ready when we come out of this.

If you pay rent to a landlord now is the time to discuss a rent holiday but only if needed as they will be struggling as well.  You can look at all lenders and suppliers and again we can help you with this.

Check your business interruption insurance to see if you are covered and work with your broker to see how you can claim.

Look at your personal position and where you can cut costs, be mindful of any small business that you trade with as they won’t have the reserves to get through this without our help.  Sky sports are not showing the football or Rugby, now is the time to discuss this and get a reduction.  Do you need the Cinema and Gym membership if you cant go?

Above all, remember we are in this together and we will come through it!

Paul Donno, FMAAT is Director at 1 Accounts Online Ltd, and an AAT Council member

David Nunn is Content Manager at AAT.

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