Financial Solutions for Businesses Reopening After Lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to pause or adjust their in-store operations. Now that much of the country is beginning to lift restrictions, these businesses must now figure out how to safely reopen, while trying to recoup the devastating financial losses incurred during the lockdown.
This is no easy task for most business owners, especially those in the restaurant, retail, and personal services industries who must limit their hours and/or in-store capacity. Even with a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan to help cover payroll, you might struggle to meet other basic business expenses since you’re serving a reduced number of customers.
While it will take time for businesses to get back to the sales they may have seen pre-pandemic, there are some actions you can take to overcome the financial challenges of this initial reopening period. Here’s what businesses can do right now to help themselves financially as they resume operations.
1. Assess your current finances, business model, and vendors.
Most businesses that were able to continue selling during the quarantine had to make some changes to their operational model and even their products/services to comply with health and safety guidelines. Now that limited reopenings are on the horizon for many types of businesses, it’s a good time to take a close look at your financial projections and current business model. Consider the viability of your pre-COVID model and how you might be able to make long-term modifications to serve your customers safely right now. In terms of finances, you’ll want to determine how to reduce costs in ways that don’t hurt your ability to grow revenue. Switching vendors may be a good place to start, especially if your supply chain has been impacted by COVID.
2. Take advantage of the CARES Act relief provisions.
The federal government has created a number of coronavirus aid programs for businesses under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). While the PPP has been one of the most widely-discussed programs of the CARES Act, there are a few other provisions specifically designed to help small businesses:
- COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): The U.S. Small Business Administration expanded eligibility requirements and streamlined the application process for its EIDL program.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit: Eligible businesses can receive a refundable 50% tax credit on wages incurred between March 13 and December 31, 2020 (up to $10,000 per employee).
- Sick and Family Leave Tax Credit: Businesses can claim a refundable quarterly tax credit equal to 100% of the amount paid for mandatory COVID-related paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
- Deferred Payroll Tax Payments: Businesses may opt to delay their 2020 payroll tax payments and spread them out over the next two years, even if they have also received a PPP loan (under certain conditions).
- Net Operating Loss (NOL) Carry-Back: Businesses with an NOL in tax years 2018, 2019, or 2020 may carry back that NOL up to five years.
If you believe any of these provisions apply to you, you should discuss them in detail with your accountant or tax professional.
3. Explore state-level COVID financial assistance.
Every state has been impacted differently by COVID-19. For instance, our home state of New York quickly became the hardest-hit, and local businesses suffered tremendously from the strict shutdown and stay-at-home orders put into place by Governor Cuomo.
Fortunately, New York and many other states have implemented financial assistance programs for small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic. On May 22, the Governor announced the New York Forward Loan Fund, which is currently accepting pre-applications from small businesses, nonprofits, and landlords that meet its criteria. Businesses with locations in other states can find more information on state-specific relief initiatives in this U.S. Chamber of Commerce guide.
4. Consult with a CPA about your current and future budget.
If your business doesn’t already work with a trusted accounting firm, now is the time to consult with a CPA about your finances. A financial professional can help you assess your current budget, plan for your business’s future, and determine the best ways to take advantage of tax credits and government relief programs. Your CPA can also help you develop a long-term strategy to build your savings and reduce any debts you owe.
Your business doesn’t and shouldn’t have to navigate this difficult time alone. Working with a CPA firm is the best way to get yourself back on solid financial footing.
Need help with your financial strategy as you reopen your business? Contact the top-rated accounting professionals at Miller & Company LLP. Get in touch with us and schedule your free consultation today.