The headlines from the news media are quite depressing. Here are some from the time of this article in late November 2020.
“The US is ‘rounding the corner into a calamity,’ experts say, with Covid-19 deaths projected to double soon” – CNN.
“Four Indicted in COVID-Relief Fraud that Sought Millions in Fake PPP Loans” - Newsweek.
“Despite “support local” rallying cry, experts fear a surge in small business bankruptcies in 2021” – CTV News.
I think even with this bad news, we still have a lot to be grateful for. Therefore, I have a list of five things to be thankful for from a CFO’s perspective as I have worked with different businesses.
I have seen first-hand how this program has helped my clients survive, and even creatively grow during this time. One nonprofit that helps girls that are sex trafficked in Texas has continued to operate due to the PPP. Other businesses have kept workers and restored salaries to previous levels.
This program has not been perfect, and the forgiveness process has been slow. I realize there have been cases of fraud. But overall, I have seen a significant influx in cash in small businesses that have led to survival and more. My clients are getting ready for 2021 and expecting good things. There has been some pruning of expenses, which I argue is a good thing.
We have done many forecast models and scenarios this year. Some scenarios were quite depressing and would have required significant laying off and pay cuts. Overall, I have not seen any of these scenarios play out. In actuality, it seems that most organizations are doing better than we initially thought.
I realize that we are still not out of the storm yet. We still have some control over our destiny in 2021, and it could worsen before it improves. I believe good scenario planning and analysis is essential to be flexible and at the forefront of changes that could be necessary.
I was on a Zoom call, and someone said that she felt that “Zoom” should be named “person of the year.” I have used this technology for years, but it has taken off and been essential for many businesses to operate. We have unintended benefits such as time savings with meetings that are just as good or better on Zoom.
Other remote cloud-based software, file sharing, and electronic signing software have been essential. Since I started my CFO Services firm, I have worked to get organizations to be entirely electronic. It saves time. For example, Bill.com claims their system cuts all Bill Pay processes from bill entry, approval, check signatures, and filing by 50%.
Interest rates are at the lowest levels I have seen. There are 30-year mortgages at 2.875%, and even Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are 30-year loans at 3.75%. The lower mortgage rates are helping the construction and home improvement industries. Businesses can use a line of credit at a lower rate to help them through a tough time or seasonal challenges.
Any business that has not considered a Line of Credit, an SBA loan or even an EIDL can access these options at extremely low rates.
One thing I love about working with small businesses is their entrepreneurial spirit and power to pivot. I am part of a Business Accelerator program with Michael Hyatt & Co. I hear stories of businesses that switch to making masks, create virtual training and programs, and look at what this situation has made possible. It is a much more freeing perspective.
Small businesses can adjust if they have current financials. Also, if they have flexible forecast models to help them make decisions, they can be a force to be reckoned with.
I know it is still a challenging time, and we are not “out of the woods” yet. No matter what, you can’t argue; there are still many things to be grateful for.