The recent business shut down has taught me a few things about business and survivability. Like everyone at first I thought this would be over quickly. If it wasn't, all the CARES Act programs coming out of Washington DC would help us until we were able to start up again. Oh silly Eric!
We applied for everything we could: Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the SBA, Paycheck Protection Loan from our local small bank (small banks rock, their customer service is so much better than the mega-banks) and of course, for the first time ever, unemployment.
PPP has finally come through to the tune of $5600 (no I didn't forget a zero) and we have finally received the EIDL advance of $7000 (not the $10,000 that was originally promised.) Don't get me wrong, we are extremely grateful for these. Thankfully our other business has a very low-overhead model if we are not working. To date, neither my wife or I have seen a penny of unemployment. The State of Georgia approved our application, (we've been approved for weeks now) but still no payments. For an update on the Georgia's current unemployment situation visit Georgia DOL
Thankfully, I am a planner. Though no one could have ever predicted the results of the pandemic, there are other disasters that I did anticipate. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, etc. Plus, work stoppages such as a family illness. This means that every week a set percentage of gross income is put into a business savings account for just such emergencies. (And we did the same to personal finances as well with a personal savings account.)
What this disaster has shown me is that you MUST have a savings account and be ready for unforeseen events. It doesn't matter if you only put $100 a week aside, you have to do something. I know the basic mentality is 6 months of expenses including your personal finances. But as the saying goes, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."
Promise yourself as soon as your business is up and running you will pay YOURSELF first, before all creditors, by putting something into a savings account to get ready for the next disaster. Start small, maybe with 1% of gross revenue, then build up from there. Business survivability should be your #1 priority above all else. If your business doesn't survive, nothing else you do will matter. We are not out of the woods yet with COVID, and NOAA predicts an "above average" hurricane season "above average" this year. You can survive almost anything that is thrown you way IF you take the steps ahead of time to be ready for it.
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Eric Zdanowicz, MBA, is a business owner of two businesses (Millennial Center of Excellence, LLC and CFS Atlanta South), consultant, and a retired US Air Force veteran with almost 40 years of leadership experience. Eric lives in the Middle Georgia Area. For questions, feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org