7 Steps to Prepare Your Company for an Economic Downturn

The Milestone Team April 10, 2020

During times of great economic uncertainty, it is wise to prepare your company for potential hard times. If you believe your company is vulnerable to the effects of an economic downturn, here are 7 steps you should take to prepare.

1. Take immediate action

Take swift action to reduce expenses and control spending wherever possible. Steps like implementing a hiring freeze, eliminating discretionary spending, and cutting non-performing team members, can make a big difference. In times like this, rarely do business owners regret moving quickly to preserve cash.

2. Develop a phased contingency plan

If your business starts to decline, you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out what to do. Establish a phased contingency plan ahead of time, specifically identifying triggers and the corresponding actions you will take as a company to cut costs. A two or three-phase plan is recommended. In order to develop your plan, the company should:

  • Identify a prioritized list of non-essential spending cuts that could be made
  • Create a forced ranking list of employees by department (most valuable to least valuable)
  • Using the forced ranking list, develop a prioritized workforce reduction list (i.e. if cuts had to be made who would you cut 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc…)
  • Develop a compensation reduction plan (e.g. 10% management pay cut)

3. Identify at-risk customers

Identify those customers that are most at risk and reach out to see how you can assist. Proactive communication can often lead to out of the box thinking that is critical during difficult times and can solidify your relationship.

4. Communicate with existing/potential funding partner

Communication during difficult times is critical. Even if you have to deliver bad news, it is always better to be proactive and avoid surprises. Treat your banker and other financing sources as true partners and solicit their help—you are much more likely to get them to work with you. It is also important to review backup or bridge funding options by communicating proactively with existing and potential funding partners. Review all available lines of credit and talk to key investors about potential bridge financing options.

5. Align on the plan with the executive team

Involve your leadership team in the brainstorming and decision making process in order to get all ideas on the table and achieve consensus. A unified leadership team that is committed to a common goal and that communicates the same message internally and externally is much more likely to succeed.

6. Develop a communication plan to employees

Employees will be understandably nervous during tough times. The more you can communicate and let them know what is going on the better. Even if you have to deliver bad news, be direct and honest and give them a sense of the big picture.

7. Stay informed and flexible

In addition to staying current on world events, you should identify the leading indicators for your business that will give you an early warning that things may be slowing down. The world economy is in uncharted territory, and you should stay as flexible as possible and be prepared to act with urgency as the situation dictates.

Uncertainty in the economy doesn’t have to equal uncertainty in your business. Milestone is here to help with outsourced accounting services you can count on. You can reach out by email at [email protected].

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