This article was orignally published in the South Florida Business Journal with our CEO, John Lie-Nielsen.You can find the original article, HERE.
John Lie-Nielsen, CEO of One Park Financial, has spoken to many small business leaders in Florida recently, and we are sharing what he’s hearing from the frontlines. Below are excerpts from a virtual chat with him as he describes how the quarantine is impacting businesses in the area.
Many small business owners feel like they’ve built their business on their own and don’t want any relief handouts from the government or others.
We get this a lot from current small business partners. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a way through this if your business is shut down by the government and you have no control over the situation. That’s our current reality and it continues to have a tremendous impact on so many lives. It’s great to have pride in your approach to business, work ethic and ingenuity, but these loans and relief programs aren’t a gift. They are deserved.
How do you make these relief programs real and actionable then?
I can share a recent discussion I had with a restaurant owner in North Miami Beach. I emphasized that these programs are for her business and to not be intimidated by them. None of the applications are hard and she should apply quickly, with the best documentation she has. Confidence and action are key. Although relief programs keep changing, we stay on them and continue to educate owners directly on the phone, via webinars and in all our communications.
What advice do you have for small businesses that are trying to figure out how they’ll meet their financial obligations?
Financial institutions should be reaching out to help borrowers experiencing declines in revenue by temporarily reducing their debt obligations.
How might business owners cut costs or generate revenue during this crisis?
While we are talking to some of our small business partners about temporarily reducing their debt obligations, we also try to provide other cost-saving and even revenue-generating advice. For instance, to generate cash now, a nail salon owner could run a prepaid special with her best customers for a discount on her services when she can re-open.
These decisions are up to the business owners but we try to generate ideas. It’s also important to stay in contact with everyone and consider where you want to be in three months. Simply not paying the bills is not a good strategy. Keep in communication with vendors, landlords and creditors. Work on a plan. Be creative. Communicate with people. Ask for the help you need. It’s hard to see a brighter future right now but we are confident it will come.
What steps are you taking in response to COVID-19?
Like many businesses, we have retooled our staff to work from home, and we’re all about outreach and education.
We’re a small business, too, so we’re following the same advice we’re giving our business partners. We are working with our bank and our vendors to be as prudent as possible with cash. We’re trying to stay in constant communication with them on our financial position and the steps we’re taking to move the business forward as best we can given that so much is shutdown. It’s easy to stay shell shocked but as small businesses we have to be proactive and adapt as best as we can.