Situation: The recovery continues to be uneven and uncertain. One company finds that both staff and their families are nervous about how the company will fare and the future of their jobs, and this has created strain. What are you doing to stay balanced and positive – both within your company and also in your personal relationships?
Advice from the CEOs:
Transparency and communication. These are critical in both business and personal affairs. You have to be honest, avoiding either pessimism or unwarranted optimism.
Share the metrics of where you are – the reality – and projections on your expectations of how things will go. This has been a long bump in the road, but eventually things will get smoother.
Involve your staff in difficult decisions. Do the same with family on difficult personal or family decisions.
Be frank with family, but keep communicating. Time is more important to family than money – they want you to be there with them. If you’re working long hours in the evening, at least go home and have dinner with your family.
Staff adjustments, where necessary, have been done as single events and weren’t drawn out. CEOs have communicated more frequently about the state of business and pipeline. Assure staff that the company is solid. Show them the runway.
Those most worried are employees without project work. Some companies focused them on infrastructure projects to keep them engaged.
Cross-fertilize your teams. One company brought professional service employees into product engineering. Both groups learned and benefitted from understanding each other’s perspective.
Situation: As business improves the Company needs to manage cash flow to support growth. How are you managing your cash flow in the recovery?
Advice from the CEOs:
This is a common challenge following a down period. You’ve reduced personnel and used up cash reserves to survive. As demand resumes, you may need to add resources as you increase production. It’s important not to let accounts payable get ahead of your receivables.
Ask customers for deposits on orders – giving you up-front cash. Give priority to those who do.
Redesign the work flow:
Add independent contractors on a project basis.
This requires good cost estimates and well-defined deliverables.
Work with your bank and Line of Credit:
An LOC should cover 1-3 months of operation.
Ask for a lot, and shop different banks for favorable lines and rates.
An LOC is a short-term obligation whereas debt may be long term. Watch your debt covenants for restrictions on obligations to assure that you stay in compliance.
LOCs are frequently Prime plus 1-2%
If you have a broker, see what rates they will offer on a business credit line to keep your brokerage business.
The best alternative is to plan ahead and develop a strong relationship with your banker – including a reliable credit history – so that when need arises, the banker will help you based on your past performance and the confidence that they have developed in you and your operation.
Key Words: Cash Flow, Recovery, Growth, Deposits, Contractors, Project, Estimates, Deliverables, Line of Credit, Bank, Covenants, Credit History