Coronavirus has caused tragic loss of life; impacted our physical and mental health and exacted a painful toll on livelihoods and the economy.
Businesses are counting the cost of lost sales opportunities, reversals in formerly healthy cashflow positions and disrupted supply chains. As lock-down restrictions start to ease, there is a chink of light ahead. We cannot return to business as usual but there are predictable trading risks within your control.
The temptation is to make-up for lost time by accepting more orders than your business can deliver. If your cash reserves are already low, it may be difficult to ramp-up production quickly without heavy borrowing. You might not receive payment for many weeks, leaving your business with a serious liquidity problem.
Turning down opportunities is frustrating but it is better to ensure that your business is sustainable. Before accepting an order, consider issuing a pro-forma invoice to receive payment in advance or mitigate the risk by obtaining a letter of credit or credit insurance so it is easier to secure the necessary funding from lenders.
Being over-cautious towards prospective customers is equally damaging. There is currently a higher risk of customer insolvency and bad debt, so balance this against the significant opportunity costs of hibernating until the situation improves.
Some of your established customers may not have survived the lockdown; others may have been forced to cut back their spending. You should be proactive about new business to replace these lost sales and build for the future.
It’s sad but predictable that Covis-19 has created bumper opportunities for fraudsters. By 15 May, losses of more than £3.5m have been reported by victims of coronavirus-related scams in the UK, according to ActionFraud.
Protect your business by conducting thorough due diligence on prospective customers and suppliers.
While mainly focused on getting your business up and running again, do not allow credit control to drift and imperil your own cashflow position at a critical time.
Take prompt and firm action on outstanding invoices to collect your money. If you don’t have the resources, consider outsourcing debt collection to a commercial collections agency.