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Middle Market M&A Link Roundup: COVID-19 Issue

This monthly roundup has always been a place for me to curate the best content I encounter on the topics of valuation, planning for a sale, and selling your business. Over the past two weeks I’ve found myself not only curating a deluge of content, but also trying to curate my own thoughts on what feels like an hourly basis.

I’ve turned to some of my favorite thought leaders for insight. Some of them have offered words of wisdom and encouragement. Oddly, some have missed the mark with messages that seemed superficial at best and callous at worst given the current crisis we’re all living through.

“Let’s face it, we’re all facing a little more down time right now,” chirped one well-known author and leadership guru, sharing an article about productivity.

More downtime seems like the least of our worries. Millions of the hardest-hit Americans are facing things like unemployment, illness, or the prospect of losing a business that took years to build.

Chris and I lived through the Great Recession as small-business owners. It was a white-knuckle ride we hadn’t exactly planned for. In fact, Chris and I often say that merely surviving those years might have been our greatest entrepreneurial achievement. I never thought I’d be facing another monumental economic upheaval like the financial collapse of 2008, but here we are in the midst of something that feels eerily similar, yet entirely different.

I’m not one for making hasty predictions or quick judgements, and I’m seeing lots of those right now. This is an unprecedented event that is now being compared to WWII in terms of the scope of the disruption to American lives and the global economy. I’m not sure anyone can say with certainty what lies ahead: With unprecedented events comes unprecedented uncertainty.

Now is the time to lean on each other for support, something small business owners have always been good at. To that end, I’ve curated some articles and resources (below) that offer practical and immediately helpful advice for navigating these unprecedented times.

Hang in there! We’re all in this together.

Our offices are currently closed for face-to-face meetings, but we’ve had the capabilities to work remotely — with clients from all over the country — for years. AT&Co is open for business! Let’s Talk.

Good News: We launched our new website!

It had been four years since we freshened up our website at Allan Taylor & Co., so it was time for an update. The goal was to make the site simpler, cleaner and easier to navigate. We’ve also organized the site based on “where you’re at” as a business owner, and made it clear how to get in touch — and stay in touch — using your preferred communication method. We’ve got more updates in the hopper, too. (A big shoutout to BlueZoo Creative for always making us look good!)

Protecting the value and sellability of your business during COVID-19

I wrote an article for Forbes several years ago titled Did the Recession Hijack Your Exit Strategy? It’s the story of an owner who was planning to sell her business in 2009 until the Great Recession hit. She went into survival mode, built her business back up, then sold in 2015.

We don’t know how long it will take for businesses to recover from this crisis. People who had a front row seat to the 2008 financial collapse — like the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis who was interviewed on 60 Minutes — are pushing for measures that promote the quickest possible recovery.

In the interim, there are a number of things you can do to support your business as we navigate these turbulent waters.

Understand the value of your biggest asset

We’ve often said that any time is a good time to get a business valuation. Now is no exception, especially if you plan to sell in the future. 2020 will look different for many businesses. Some may see a downturn while others may see a spike in both sales and profitability. Getting a valuation based on YE 2019 will give you a benchmark for comparison. It will also help uncover the primary value drivers (as well as the risks and vulnerabilities) in your business, giving you a blueprint for action. Contact us today if you’d like to discuss how you can use a valuation to keep your business and financial goals on track.

Make a short-term plan

The plan for some businesses right now is to stay afloat and shore up the business for whatever lies ahead. Here is a COVID19 10-Point Plan shared by a private equity investor on LinkedIn. It’s got some great advice for what to do now to support your business.

Listen to this 7-Figure Small podcast: How to Survive and Thrive During a Financial Crisis. Host Brian Clark and his guest, Spencer Sheinin, CPA suggest a number of things you can do today to weather the storm and position your business for the “new normal.”

Manage cash flow

The often ignored topic of cash flow analysis is suddenly in the spotlight, specifically managing cash flow in your business for the next 13 to 16 weeks. Your CPA can help you create a cash-flow projection. Or, check out this article, The Ultimate Guide to Cash Flow Analysis, which includes a sample spreadsheet.

Cut expenses

This podcast from Permanent Equity offers advice on cutting expenses in today’s uncertain business environment. It discusses how to think about decision making, as well as long and short-term effects of certain types of cuts. David C. Baker also did a recent webinar on Dismissing Staff Humanely.

Lead through the crisis

Whatever your leadership skills were prior to COVID-19, your A-game is desperately needed now. This podcast on 3 Actions to Lead Through Today’s Crisis from Michael Hyatt is extremely helpful. This article on How to Lead in Times of Crisis from Fast Company is also a worthwhile read.

Small business relief

It’s hard to keep up with what federal assistance may or may not be available to small business owners in the coming weeks. From delayed tax-filing to forgivable loans, it’s all developing fast. Keep in touch with your CPA and trusted advisors right now. Forbes has also published a list of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Relief Programs that is being updated daily. Small-business lender Multifunding has also set up an online community for asking questions and sharing information.

We’re here for you! Please reach out if you’d like to talk with any of the advisors here at  Allan Taylor & Co. No charge. No pressure. Whether you’re planning to sell, ready to sell, or want to know what your business is worth. Let’s Talk

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Author: Barbara Taylor

Barbara is co-founder of Allan Taylor & Co. and a former New York Times blogger. She has been a small-business owner since 2003. Barbara lives with her husband, Chris, and their two sons in Northwest Arkansas.

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