How can businesses best prepare for a financially sound 2021?The key to financial stability for all businesses in 2021 is organisation and coordination from top to bottom. Enterprises must be realistic and keep costs as lean as possible, while identifying the most profitable areas of their businesses during the pandemic, focussing and redoubling their efforts there. The biggest challenge for businesses is that most are operating on vastly reduced revenues and, without the required cash flow to support their operating overheads, most need additional funding fast. As such, the focus must be on ensuring that funding is in place as early as possible to avoid these concerns. Following December’s announcement that the CBILS scheme has been extended, companies should apply as early as possible to be certain of success.
“The government has provided a wealth of support schemes and grants, so the onus is on business leaders to utilise what is available to them.”Companies should also be conscious that these schemes and the incumbent banks are not the final option. The alternative lending sector has different products to offer businesses as well as the relevant knowledge and expertise to guide them down the right funding path. The sector will continue to go from strength to strength as it embraces the use of key technology enablers, such as open banking, open accounting and data analytics.
What advice would you give businesses planning ahead to repay government loans, specifically BBLS, CBILS and CLBLS?Every business? situation will be unique of course but it is crucial that business owners? plans for repayment are realistic, given the impacts of the pandemic on revenue streams, and that they research their funding options fully to ensure they are informed. It may be possible that existing upcoming obligations pertaining to the Government loan schemes can be refinanced, for example, hence being fully informed of their options will give them the greatest chance of success.
What areas should business leaders be focusing on investing in during 2021?Following the events of last year, investing in a technology-first approach is now more crucial than ever for businesses. As we enter 2021 with another national lockdown, organisations must have a model which is sustainable, whether in or out of their business premises. Companies that fail to adapt will be left behind, especially when lenders start the process of recouping outstanding loans. If businesses havent made efforts to adapt their operations and revenue streams they will struggle. As a prime example, weve seen how the closure of non-essential retail businesses has impacted their sales. Understandably it’s not as simple as transferring everything online overnight, but modern measures must be taken in line with consumer demand.
“An online presence is key, whether that’s selling goods online or ensuring that staff have the necessary tools to communicate and access documentation remotely.”Nine months ago, we couldnt have foreseen where we would be now, but it’s essential that leaders learn from the past year and prepare for the future based on the harsh lessons weve all faced.
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