Business triage involves allocating limited resources to achieving realistic outcomes

cash flow crisis planning sme Jul 07, 2020

Business triage refers to the process of prioritising work in a crisis when there is more work to do than resources available to do it. The aim of triage is to maximise the outcome and minimise the damage by being realistic about what can be achieved with limited resources.

It is more commonly understood in the medical context, usually in response to prioritising treatment of casualties following disasters or other emergencies.

According to Investopedia, in a business context, “Triage helps companies by enabling them to attend to emergencies quickly, but it also poses risks, as it tends to involve the elimination of certain time-consuming steps that are normally part of the workflow”.

While business triage is normally associated with decision-making and action a crisis, its principles can also be applied to all forms of transformational change.

In my last blog I advised directors that now is a good time to conduct a strategic review of businesses in order to prepare for...

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Get expert help with cash flow management in a crisis

In the current pandemic situation, many businesses deemed non-essential have been forced to temporarily close for a lockdown period and it is clear that many SMEs will have serious cash flow problems when they resume trading.

Unfortunately, the cash flow problem won’t go away even though for the moment it is easy to ignore it by holing up at home.

While it is true to say that all businesses should have plans for dealing with emergencies and reserves for cash flow problems, it is unprecedented to have to deal with a period of no income and it is becoming clear that many SMEs – and larger businesses – do not have sufficient cash reserves to survive a lengthy lockdown.

Many are telling me that they paid their staff wages for the first month in anticipation of furlough support arriving in time to fund a second month but they are concerned about the Government’s promised CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) arriving in time to pay April wages. As for paying...

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SMEs applying for support under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme should read the small print

Grabbing a lifebelt when you are drowning makes sense, but when that so-called lifebelt is a business loan to survive the Coronavirus pandemic, you need to read the small print before signing on the dotted line.

The various government support schemes for SMEs may have made big headlines, not least their claims about making loans available for SMEs, but the devil is likely to be in the details.

No matter how panic-stricken you might be it is worth making sure you know exactly what you are getting into when applying for a loan under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). The difficulty many businesses are having getting through to someone at the bank is an indication of the problem, albeit it is hardly surprising given that banks have run down their SME support teams over the past twelve years.

Before even contacting a bank the first step is to take a deep breath and ensure you know exactly who to approach and what you can apply for. There are ample details about...

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Why you shouldn’t suspend your marketing during the Coronavirus pandemic

SMEs have had to close, suspend or reduce their activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic and most are looking for ways to minimise their cash out flow however despite the temptation they should be wary of cutting their marketing budgets.

But if your business disappears from the market and in doing so is no longer top of mind for your customers and clients will you be able to regain your position or will others who continued marketing replace you?

Withdrawing from the market may suggest you have gone out of business, as indeed will be the case for many as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While it is understandable that SMEs in dire financial straits will want to preserve cash by cutting back on expenditure, some newly-published research from Opinium, released on March 26 has found that people do still want to hear from businesses of many kinds.

The research revealed that “a very large majority of people in the UK would like to hear either the same amount, or even more,...

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To Pay or Not to Pay Quarter Day Rent & Business Rates – the latest

As if the pressure and worries SMEs are facing due to the Coronavirus pandemic were not enough, yesterday (Wednesday) was when Quarter Day Rent was due to be paid.

For many, it was also a payment date for business rates although the government has suspended these for a year.

While SMEs may be eligible for suspending the payment of business rates as announced by the Chancellor in his first set of measures to help businesses survive the pandemic, little had so far been said about rent.

However, yesterday, the Government published details of three months’ protection for businesses from eviction for failure to pay rent. While is included in the emergency powers legislation that is due to be given Royal Assent today but we are still awaiting confirmation. There more details here.

Some businesses had already declared their intention to miss paying their Quarter Day Rent, like, for example Burger King, whose CEO Alasdair Murdoch announced on Tuesday that the company would not be...

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Something for everyone in the Spring budget – but will it be delivered?

Who could envy a Chancellor having to deliver a Spring budget just one month into the job and in the midst of a global pandemic?

The Spring budget came after the early morning announcement of by the BoE (Bank of England) of an interest rate cut from 0.75% to 0.25%. Was this an outgoing Governor stealing an incoming Chancellor’s thunder?

With short term measures to help businesses deal with the Covid-19 consequences and others dealing with the environment, infrastructure, business taxes and addressing regional inequality the Spring budget covered them all.

The headline was a commitment to invest in infrastructure in support of the government’s commitment to ‘level up’ the economy by focusing investment on the Midlands and North: “over the next five years, we will invest more than £600bn pounds in our future prosperity”.

Many worries of SMEs were addressed by the £30bn package of short term measures to deal with the consequences of the...

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Sector – business in UK’s North and Midlands

The UK’s North and Midlands were once the powerhouse for the country’s economy, with its manufacturing and engineering industries driving the Industrial Revolution in the late 19thCentury.

Cities such as Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham were the industrial heartland of UK when national economies depended heavily on what they could make and sell, from textiles to steel and heavy engineering machinery.

But as industry in UK declined, the UK economy shifted its focus to services and in particular to the professional and financial services with a lot manufacturing being transferred to countries such as India and China, where production costs were much lower. This was also associated with a shift in the UK economic centre of gravity from the Midlands and the North to London leaving much of the country behind.

Vestiges of industry have survived in places like Sunderland, where the Japanese car manufacture Nissan has thrived and recently increased its...

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Late Payments putting even more pressure on SMEs in 2020

The amount owed to UK SMEs in late payments had allegedly risen to £50bn in early January according to research by digital banking platform Tide as reported by CityAM.

It has calculated that the average UK SME is chasing five outstanding invoices at once, wasting an hour and a half every day.

Data from Pay UK, which runs the Bacs Direct Credit and Direct Debit payment services, later in the month revealed that late payments had reached a four-year high last year at £23bn.

Tide’s new £50bn total was considerably higher than Pay UK’s total of £23bn owed to SMEs and I cannot reconcile the two figures.  The Tide research was conducted by Atomik Research among 1,002 SME decision makers from the UK and, it appears, judging by a footnote to the Tide report, that its £50bn figure may have been estimated on the basis of a total of 5.9 million SMEs, as calculated by The Department for Business .

However, the situation puts immense pressure on...

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Running out of cash – crisis management, the first step in dealing with a cash crisis

Crisis management when a company is in financial difficulties is about quelling the understandable panic and taking a long, hard look at managing the business’ cash flow and the potential for action that makes the business viable.

Running out of cash is the cause of most business failures where the cash flow test of insolvency applies such that a company is insolvent if it is unable to meet its liabilities as and when they fall due. This doesn’t mean the business should be closed down but it does mean the directors should take clear steps to deal with the financial situation.

The first thing directors need to appreciate is that their primary consideration is to protect the interests of creditors rather than that of shareholders. This is where an insolvency or turnaround professional as an outsider can help by bringing an objective assessment of the personal risk when making decisions and the prospects that turnaround initiatives can be taken to restore the business to...

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Sector focus on the UK newspaper industry, regional, national and online

cash flow profit Feb 13, 2020

The UK newspaper industry has faced multiple challenges for many years but somehow it manages to survive.

In many ways it is a good example of how agile a business needs to be in the 21st century if it wants to continue, to prosper and to grow.

But arguably the UK newspaper industry is more than simply a business albeit, like all businesses it needs to cover its costs and make a profit.

Relevance is critical to having and retaining readers as consumers of content in what might be assumed to be a traditional supply and demand business. At its most basic, news is about informing readers about what is happening in the world, and in the country and region in which they live and aspiring journalists in training were often told that their purpose was “to entertain, to educate and to inform”.

Nevertheless, to the accountants, newsroom journalists have increasingly been seen as a cost, a drain rather than a contributor to the business’ profits.

Indeed, relevance is...

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