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    Your Checklist For Reopening Your Business

    The COVID-19 pandemic forced many small businesses to close their doors. Millions of Americans, primarily from the small business arena, found themselves applying for unemployment. As a small business owner, you have most likely experienced these sweeping disruptions to your operations and bottom line.

    Now that states are gradually easing COVID-19 restrictions, it is time to create a plan for reopening your business. There are many issues to address such as getting back on track with your budget and financial plan, accessing funding for working capital, rehiring your employees, and creating a safe workspace.

    Here are some items to put on your checklist for reopening your business.

    Know Your Rights

    The CARES Act was passed to provide small businesses with financial support during the pandemic. The three major components are the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and Employee Retention Tax Credit. If your business was fully or partially shut down due to closure orders, you are entitled to an employee retention tax credit if you kept your employees on the payroll. The credit is applied toward your payroll taxes.

    You might need an infusion of cash to reopen. Applications for funding through the CARES Act take time to process. You might want to consider faster options such as online small business loans, traditional SBA 7(a) loans, inventory financing, or business lines of credit.

    Safety Above All

    The safety of your employees and customers must be a top priority. Here are just a few logistics you need to consider.

    The CDC has issued guidelines such as requiring a minimum of six feet between individuals. How will you achieve this? What about physical barriers between customers and employees? Is it feasible?

    If you are in the retail industry, can you limit payment options to credit/debit cards or digital wallets? You will need a backup option though, as not everyone has these means of payment.

    How will you minimize the foot traffic of employees between different areas of your facilities?

    Safety requires hand sanitizing stations, checking your employees’ temperature, and a daily assessment of how they are feeling. Who will you designate to do this?

    Adjusting Budgets And Finances

    There may not be another pandemic, but an emergency can unfold at any moment. If you did not have liquid emergency savings before coronavirus, this might be something you want to prioritize. Paying down debt and trimming operational expenses will also help you weather future disruptions.

    As you prepare to reopen, you need to re-examine your budget based on a post-COVID-19 financial reality. If you operate a retail establishment, how will you enforce social distancing and face-covering rules? 

    You might need to ramp up your marketing and advertising efforts, so your customers know you are back in business. If employees left, you will face the expense of hiring and training new staff. To cover these additional costs, look for ways to pare your budget down to the necessities.

    Assessing Risk And Making Sure Insurance Is In Order

    The safety measures you implement depend on your business operations.

    • Do you run a small production business? How will you protect your production workers? How will you maintain space between workers on the production line as well as in break rooms?
    • What kind of face coverings will be required?
    • What about visitor access to your facilities?

    All employees need to be trained on the new coronavirus protection procedures.

    Contact your workers’ compensation insurance carrier to review your coverage and claims procedures. An employee must demonstrate that their injury or illness was a direct result of their employment. Implementing strong safety procedures is your only protection against such claims.

    Educate your employees on what is covered by their health benefits. As the medical costs of coronavirus treatment climb, the insurance industry is predicting a significant jump in premiums. You will want to factor this into your budget.

    Bringing Back Employees

    Notify your laid off or furloughed employees that you are ready for them to return. Be sure to notify them by email and a certified letter. Keep accurate records of who is returning and who has refused. You are required to report any employee who refuses to return to the unemployment agency. If you received a PPP loan, you need precise records to comply with the terms of the loan forgiveness program.

    If you find it difficult to comply with distancing requirements, you may need to re-evaluate how your business operates. Can you alternate days according to tasks? Can some employees work remotely? For instance, bookkeeping and marketing staff can probably work from home.

    Conclusion

    The main point to keep in mind is that certain aspects of your business operations are never going to return to what they were before. COVID-19 has created a new reality. You have a lot to do and think about right now and therefore you must rely on a checklist for reopening your business.