The National Federation of Independent Business reports that small business optimism is the highest it's been since 2006.1 However, in business as in life, things don't always run smoothly.
Here are some tips to help keep a temporary situation from becoming more serious.
Improve cash flow.
Cut expenses wherever you can: reduce inventory and discretionary spending on new office equipment or unnecessary items. You may even consider moving your office, store or warehouse to a less expensive location. Make sure you review the terms of your lease, however, so you know if relocating makes sense. Another alternative may be to sublease your space or a portion of your space to a complementary business. On the flip side, speed up collections from customers and stretch out payments to vendors. Read more cash flow tips here.
Review employee compensation.
You may need to reduce workforce wages or hours temporarily. Your employees may be on board if they're kept in the loop and trust that—if and when things improve—they'll be rewarded. (They will also be more willing to sacrifice if you cut your own salary, as well) In the worst case, you may find it necessary to lay off some employees. You could also consider using contract, seasonal or temporary employees rather than hiring permanent full-time staff to save on the cost of benefits and reduce the emotional cost of layoffs.
Ideally, the time to set up a business line of credit, which can help you get through lean times, is before you need it. If you haven't already set up a line of credit, talk to your business banker about a short-term loan or find out if you can refinance an existing loan to obtain more affordable monthly payments to help you get through a rough patch.
Stay current on payroll taxes.
Payroll taxes are withheld from your employees' paychecks and paid to the government on a monthly or semi-weekly schedule (talk to your tax advisor about what schedule you're required to use). It's your responsibility to make sure the money is reported and paid on time to the state and IRS. Failure to deposit payroll taxes in a timely manner can result in significant fines and penalties. In addition, you may be held personally liable for taxes that aren't reported or paid.
Review business insurance.
Keep your business insurance current. If you have to go through a bankruptcy and you aren't currently insured, you may be unable to obtain a policy. But, if you have a current contract and continue paying premiums on time, it's unlikely your policy would be canceled in the event of a restructuring. It may also be wise to do a thorough inventory of your business assets and eliminate coverage for any assets that are obsolete or fully depreciated so you aren't paying more than you need to.
We Can Lend a Hand
Be sure to talk to a Navy Federal Business Development Officer at the first sign of trouble. He or she can help you work through your problem areas and find ways to help your business succeed.
1Source: National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index, January 14, 2015, www.nfib.com.