We understand that businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 in the Cayman Islands. With non-essential workers being asked to stay at home in order to reduce the spread of the virus and to protect the community, as well as a decrease in customers, such as tourists, your business’s sustainability may hinge on how well you manage these issues during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
The Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure has developed tips to help your small business with continuity.
Here are several tips to help assist your business during the COVID-19 crisis:
The First Crucial Steps
Businesses may expect employees to change emotionally during a crisis so it's important to establish regular check-ins with everyone via a telephone call (the internet may be intermittent and people may not see messages). Encourage communication not just from management to employees, but also among employees so they can help each other. Make sure messages are clear and consistent, don’t make things up, if you don’t know say you don’t and what you are going to do to find out.
- Cash flow management:
Look at how you can manage your cash flow efficiently with reduced income and cut back on non-essential expenses, as you do not know how long this will last.
- Talk to Debtors & Creditors
If you haven’t already done so, consult with debtors and creditors. If necessary, ask if payment dates need to be re-negotiated by deferring payments or repayment holidays with debtors. Try to seek agreement on payment by instalments with creditors or buying time; talking immediately will save conflict and help you assess the most critical issues you need to address. Don’t hide from your creditors, take a head on approach.
Strategy and Planning
- Look at supply chains
List the possible impacts COVID-19 may have on your business sales, supply chain, staffing, and finance. Alongside that list, prepare a list of strategies your business could potentially use to mitigate the negative impacts.
- Develop a business continuity plan
If you don’t have a business continuity plan now is the time to develop one. You may have competent staff who are unable to carry out their regular duties. It may be useful to re-deploy them and get them to help develop this plan. The plan will help you to identify actions you can take should your business have to close for an extended period of time.
- Re-examine the business’ finances:
Decide what you can and should do to place your business in a position to weather the crisis: Talk early to your bank. Do you anticipate needing an overdraft or some latitude? Be proactive, don’t wait until your debts are mounting up as it is much harder to negotiate if you are already in debt or not repaying loans. Work out how long you can continue to run the business before finances become critical.
- Talk to key suppliers:
Ascertain their ability to continue to supply your business. Also, look for alternative suppliers in the event current suppliers cannot meet your request.
Contact your insurance agent, if your business is insured, to review your existing policy in order to understand what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended crisis.
Staying in touch with your personnel during COVID-19
- Communicate, Again:
Be open with your employees and customers about the status of your operations, and what protective measures you have put in place to ensure that their health and safety is not compromised. Businesses need to ascertain that their workforce is safe and to let everyone know what is happening, preferably in person.
- Do you have a plan to understand where everyone is and a simple method for checking in and a back-up plan in case electricity or internet options are not viable?
- Are your staff able to come to work? If not, what are you expecting of them?
- How will you communicate your expectations to them throughout the period?
- How many can work remotely, and do they have what they need?
- How long can you pay people for and will you have to change the method of payment?
Look at ways to adjust personnel duties and maximise staff productivity
- Working From Home Policies:
We encourage businesses to develop quick working from home policies, if necessary, to allow employees to work from home in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and so as to keep your business going.
- Back-Ups & Redundancies:
Identify your key employees and ensure that someone is equipped to take over their functions in the case of sickness. Also ensure key information, passwords, etc. do not reside with one employee.
If you have a business continuity plan it should be clear on which person staff members should be in contact with and the chains of command during this time. Can the business have a new command base if the office is inaccessible? The role of managers become much more about coordination, which means they spend less time on delivering the products or services.
New Ideas for Continuing Your Business
- Modes of delivery:
There are different delivery mechanisms businesses can use to supply their products and services. Examining these may help your business. For example, can your services be moved on-line?
- Invest not divest:
If staff have to stay home due to business closure, businesses could encourage on-line learning or other skills training. There are many free or inexpensive online platforms that facilitate group learning. This can be an opportunity for people to return to work with new skills and abilities that are an asset to business.
Be Nimble and Purposeful
- Be Agile
By staying informed you can be ready to make necessary adjustments when regulations might change because of COVID-19. This can also help you to be ready to respond to new opportunities that might come out of this crisis and direct your experience and expertise to a new opportunity or market.
- Keep calm
Be realistic but composed. Whenever possible, look at changes in a positive light. This does not mean underestimating the challenges but trying to see possibilities for improvements in every situation, without being stuck fighting something you have no control over. A positive attitude in times of crisis will also motivate the other members of your team.
Look for Help and Support
Think about your business network and community, take time to talk to other business owners and managers, are there ways you can help each other? Collaboration and cooperation will smooth the way to better ways of solving problems and ensuring everyone survives.
Remember, help is available through government resources. Talk to your accountant or business development advisor to see if you are eligible for financial or other kinds of help from the government. The Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development is an entity of the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure. Call 244-8009 Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm or email CICBD@gov.ky.