The days of “winging it” are over.
As many business owners now know firsthand, even the most streamlined companies with months of cash reserves and limited overhead could not have been ready for what we are experiencing right now. This crisis will produce many winners and losers, ushering in a new generation of entrepreneurs that are proud to have made it through the year 2020. Many businesses will be able to survive this era, but a high percentage won’t.
If you treated your growth, financial stability and hiring strategy too casually over the last few years, you and your employees are feeling it during COVID-19 and if not now, most certainly will be in the coming weeks and months. Whether it’s a layoff, furlough, pay reduction or just a hiring freeze, everyone is having to stretch resources, adapt to new surroundings or realities and then some.
So what happened over the past several months? Let’s take a look at my personal experience with the COVID-19 phenomenon.
“First come, first serve”
It’s the age-old phrase that instills fear into the likes of people everywhere from the ice cream soft serve window to the free tee-shirt line alike. And it’s not exactly what you want to hear from the federal government when your business is looking for money to keep the lights on.
You think you know until you don’t. The banker we’d been with for a few years told me that they may not even be accepting applications for the PPP program before the money runs out. It was time for some quick action and tap into some relationships that could overcome some unforeseen hurdles.
March and April of 2020 felt like a blur: Applying for every federal loan or grant program under the sun plus the constant follow-up to make sure everything was received, processed and executed was truly a full time job. EIDL, PPP, SBA, PIDC, PIDA. Who knew submitting applications for government support during a global pandemic had more to do with researching acronyms than anything else. At the time our music booking agency was at a complete standstill and our growth marketing firm experienced a reduction in timely payments by 20% or more. We had no choice but to take advantage of whatever assistance programs were available.
When I recently stumbled upon this statistic it took my breath away.
We received our two PPP loans on the last Friday in May from an SBA approved lending bank we had no previous relationship with—Mid Penn—and right in time for payroll.
Reshuffling the deck
On March 12th, I relocated to Virginia to escape the pandemic and the close quarters of Center City Philadelphia, thinking this would be a temporary move. Fast forward to today, my entire 10-person team is fully remote for the first time ever, juggling work, parenting, tutoring, and learning how to make fabric masks.Fellow Entrepreneur and Villanova alumni, Luke Bowen, says of his Philadelphia-based Evil Genius Brewing Company, “We laid off our entire staff of 60 and were down to 4 employees after the bars closed. We pivoted our Fishtown brewpub into a distribution warehouse for takeout and were able to hire everyone back within 2 weeks. We were lucky, but only the strong will survive.” See their recent profile in Forbes here.
In November of 2019 our company, Mole Street made the decision to expand our support team on the finance side and executed a defining move when we hired Jeff Bruno and the Your Outsourced CFO team as our financial consultant and strategic growth advisor. To be frank, if we hadn’t, I’m not sure we’d still exist in the same form we do now.
We actually would have hired Bruno and his highly capable cast of consultants (Rich Matosky, Andrea Solozano, Julian Wright + others) years ago if we had known they existed. After a 45 min meeting with Bruno at our offices that left me inspired and elated, we hired them and entered a 90 day on-boarding period, answering tough questions and thinking about our business in ways we hadn’t before. I’ve told his team this many times, but I feel like an entrepreneurially super hero now. We are armed with a financial model that helps us predict the best time to hire, what our ideal utilization rate is and are doing pipeline predictions 6 months out.
The candid advice, established relationships, best practices and strategic insights from our YOCFO team and Jeff Bruno, put us in a position to be very successful coming out of COVID.
If you own a business with revenues between $2- $30 million, please call them. You won’t regret it and it might just be the thing that keeps you from being that former entrepreneur with a corporate job you hate. You can reach out via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and reach out to me for a reference if you need more examples beyond what I’ve provided.
“I am easily satisfied with the very best.” – ...Winston Churchill
Brendan Walsh is a sales and marketing growth guru and serial entrepreneur, having founded, advised, launched and/or invested in over 7 separate businesses from apparel to technology since 2005. He is a former Center City resident, Temple University Kelin School alumni, Steelers fan and animal lover.