Are You a “4th and Long” or “1st and 10?” Touchdown to 2021

By Kenneth Surbrugg, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Missouri Southern State University

Heading into the fourth quarter of 2020, many business owners and managers are looking ahead to just finish the year and then brace for 2021. Understandable. It’s been quite a year. However, maybe this is a good time to do a quick checkup on the following items:

  1. Business insurance coverage. How has your business changed as it relates to your business assets (what you own)? Have you added any new assets in your business? Have you sold any assets in your business? Is your insurance coverage enough? What is actually included in your coverage? Changes in your business can mean that your assets have also changed—and you need to make sure that your coverage is up to date. 
  2. Employees. Do you have the same number of employees as you did in the beginning of the year? Are you using sub-contractors? How will that change your cash flow and taxes at the end of the year? Are you offering more or less benefits? What would happen if one of your key employees decided to leave? Do you have any succession plans in place for your key employees?
  3. Customers. How has your customer base changed over the past year? Are you delivering goods and services the same as before? Have you gained new customers? How do you anticipate this changing in the next few months? How will this impact your year-end bottom line?
  4. Marketing. Have you used different marketing channels to reach your target market? How has this worked? What media are you using? If your customers have changed, are they using the same media outlets as before? What have you done to make new connections with your marketing efforts? What is your competitor doing?
  5. Business loans. If you have not made loan payments for the past few months because of COVID-19, when do you have to restart these payments? How has this impacted your loan? Have any of your loan terms changed? Can your cash flow from operations cover your loan payments once they resume?
  6. Vendor relationships. How are your vendors holding up? Do they have stock? Can they get you inventory? Have your terms changed? Are there any other suitable vendors out there who can supply your business needs? Are you current with your vendors?
  7. You. How are you holding up? Have any business issues crept into your personal life? How are your personal financials? How is your family? How is your health? Your stress? Are you taking any time away from work for you? If so, is it really time away from work or are you just working from home? Are you getting away for your own benefit?

Use this list as a starter—there may be other areas unique to your business or situation. Things change in an instant. You get a good deal on a piece of equipment, get it installed, and then something happens. Suddenly, it’s four months later and the insurance has not been adjusted. Or you have a meeting with an employee and then the next week, they turn in their two-week notice. Or one of your vendors contacts you to let you know that after 22 years, they are closing their doors. 

Now is a great time to do a quick checkup of your business to get ahead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

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