For the owners and managers of businesses, these are unprecedented times. Dealing with running a business during a global pandemic was certainly not covered in the ‘management handbook’. Withing this blog our Insolvency lawyers will discuss business continuity and contingency planning.
You will already be facing numerous operational disruptions including to your supply chain, staff shortages, reduction in productivity, compromised delivery of your service and products as well as a reduction in the demand for them.
Conversely, there could be even more pressure for your business to deliver the products or service and you must overcome numerous practical obstacles to ensure that.
Your clients and customers may not be in a position to pay you promptly and some may even take steps to close their business or be forced into an insolvency process which will could cause additional harm to your business. Credit control teams face the pressure of continuing to bring cash into the business, whilst respecting the strain on those that owe money to you.
Your business may be forced to close or significantly curtail its service for a period of time. Government concessions will go some way to alleviate the impact but the commercial ramifications shall run deeper.
Unfortunately, this present reality means that there shall be unlimited hurdles facing the global business community warranting the most difficult decisions at management level.
How to ensure business continuity?
To ensure business continuity, it is more important than ever to continue to engage frequently and meaningfully as a board or management team, at least daily, using remote facilities to the fullest extent. Set an agenda in advance, to ensure that everyone approaches the discussion in an informed manner. Decisions should be aired at the right level to ensure that they are made in a reasoned manner with views of those in different parts of your business being taken into consideration. Within your business, managers will be facing their own unique challenges that senior management must be kept appraised of. Continue (more so than ever) to record your decision-making, contemporaneously noting the context in which your decisions have to be made.
For your contingency plan, intend fully for a situation if your key decision-makers were to become unable to be involved in the business (remotely or otherwise) for a period of time. Check your constitution/articles and overall management structure and seek assistance from your legal advisers to make the appropriate changes now to ensure you have full flexibility whenever needed to preserve continuity.
If you need the support of your Bank, consider the options presented to you and the long-term impact of deferring repayments, further borrowing, granting security and giving personal guarantees. Loans and concessions may well be needed urgently but there is certainly merit in taking the opportunity to fully consider the implications with the benefit of proper legal advice.
Regularly assess the ability of your business to meet its short, medium and long-term liabilities, in view of the pipeline and make decisions based on what you identify. If needed, reach out for specialist and independent insolvency advice as early as you identify a potential issue, simply to maximise the availability of options and secure business survival. The first step is to talk to specialists confidentially about your concerns so that you can decide how best to address them.
The robustness of any business will undoubtedly be tested at this time. Business owners and managers should strive to be as proactive as reasonably possible in the circumstances to minimise the impact of these challenges.