How to Cut Expenses and Conserve Cash While Your Business Is Closed—a Checklist

March 25, 2020 Sara Popp

laptop notebook glasses on desk

While we can’t control what’s happening around the world, here is a checklist of ways you can take control of your finances, cut expenses, and conserve cash if your business is closed due to COVID-19:

Negotiate rates 

  • Renegotiate your lease or ask your landlord for rent abatement (for example, ask for no rent for 3 months or a reduced rate, or 3 months free rent and the payment will be paid in 6 months over a 6 month period, etc.). These are extraordinary times and it’s no time to be shy about it. 
  • Review your phone plans—both landline and cellular. You may be able to request a rate review or remove unnecessary extras.

  • Check your internet package. You can often negotiate lower rates with your provider or find a more affordable plan.

  • Evaluate your business insurance policy and talk to your agent. Does your policy cover forced closures and other cataclysmic events? Ask about options to lower your rate.

  • Evaluate other insurance policies, like homeowner’s or renter's insurance. Auto insurance, too. Shop around for the best deal and speak to your agents to lower your rates.

  • Look at any loans you may have—car, student, home—and renegotiate interest rates. You may be able to lengthen a loan for smaller payments, too.

  • Review credit cards and personal loans. Consider closing non-essential cards and consolidate credit cards wherever possible, looking for the lowest rate. Negotiate rates with your credit card company and banks.

  • Any fixed expenses that you can’t eliminate, negotiate. Call to discuss reducing rates or negotiating terms.

Cut expenses 

  • Review recurring expenses. Take a close look at your profit and loss statement and your personal bank statements. If it is not essential, cancel or put on hold:
    • Streaming services—pick your favorites and cut the rest. Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, HBO, and Starz?

    • Cable—do you need the full package? Can you cut the cord?

    • Internet services—cancel what you can and evaluate the rest. (Be sure to leave enough bandwidth at home to keep Zooming and streaming as work shifts to home.)

    • Subscriptions—keep the must-haves and suspend or cancel the nice-to-haves.

  • Look at your car payments and leases. Do you have a vehicle you don’t need or one that is draining your resources? Consider selling what you don’t need or replacing an expensive vehicle with a more cost-effective option. You’ll save on registration and insurance too.

  • Reduce advertising expenses. Consider pausing your paid marketing efforts, like social media ads. With a focus on direct engagement and direct messaging, you can save those funds to promote your re-opening.

  • Cut your energy costs, at your business and at home.

    • Turn off your HVAC systems if your business is closed.

    • Unplug everything you’re not using.

    • Use a programmable thermostat to get your bill as low as possible.

    • Caulk and weather strip leaky windows and doors.

    • Power down your computers every night and when not in use.

    • Look at energy efficient lighting.

  • Reduce food expenses. Avoid getting takeout too often. If you have the space, start a garden. Plan meals around grocery deals, and use time at home to cook and bake more. Avoid impulse buys that aren’t on your list (make a list!) and use menus to guide your grocery shopping. Up to 40% of food goes unused—that can add up to big savings if you plan carefully!

  • Visit your local library (if it’s open) instead of buying books, music, and DVDs. You can also find free audiobooks and e-books from the library with the Libby app or online with Audible

  • Be diligent about tax deductions. Be sure you are receiving all deductions you are entitled to. Here is information on tax deductions for fitness business, tax deductions for salons and spas, and tax deductions for integrative health businesses.

  • Lower credit card payments. If you need the cash to pay for other services, you can do just the minimum payment on your credit card. If you decide to move fixed expenses to your credit cards to conserve cash, be cautious. Choose the card with lowest rate, and don’t forget to negotiate! This should be a temporary, emergency measure only.

  • Reduce contributions to retirement or stock plans. Like lowering payments on credit cards, be sure to bump these back up as soon as you’re able.

  • Reduce non-essential staff. While extremely difficult, this may be necessary to keep you solvent, so your business can re-open on the other side. Run staffing reports to help you make decisions on the numbers.

Generate cash 

  • Do business online. Fitness businesses and salons and spas can take a virtual approach for their classes and services. 
  • Rent out business equipment you’re not using. If you’re a fitness studio, check out these ideas.

  • Sell household goods you don’t need. Consider selling items through Craig’s list, Facebook Marketplace, or other free online sites. Those like-new jeans in the skinny box in the garage? A collection of video games gathering dust? The antique hutch you thought you were going to refinish? Sell ‘em.

  • Start a side hustle. With many of us staying closer to home, what you have may be just what your neighborhood needs. Do you regularly have extra eggs or garden greens? Have mad sewing skills? Speak a second or third language? Consider how you can bring in some extra cash while maintaining social distance.

Apply for assistance 

  • Apply for Small Business Administration loans. The SBA resource page has more information.
  • Look for private sector or local grant programs. Local agencies may be offering grants for small businesses in your area. Some corporations are also offering grants you may be eligible for. Start looking into them now.

    • Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate.

    • Reclamation Ventures has opened a grant opportunity to cover one month of missed revenue (up to $2,500) for wellness spaces and wellness instructors that represent underestimated communities.

  • Check in with your bank. Ask about temporary deferments of interest on outstanding debt. While you’re talking, check that you have the most cost-effective account(s) for your needs.

  • Research tax deferments. This list from the American State of Public Accountants provides more information.

When you are back in business

  • Keep up with good cost-saving habits. Rebounding may be a slow process, and good financial habits can help you bounce back higher and faster long term.
  • Build partnerships. Consider joining forces with other local businesses to make in-kind exchanges, or even pool resources to buy in bulk (e.g., paper goods, janitorial supplies, etc.).

  • Market hard. Get the word out when you’re able to re-open.

  • Stay flexible. Business as usual may take some time. The longer you can keep cost-saving measures in place, the stronger you’ll be.  

A big thanks to Angela Adwards, of PoleLaTeaz Pole Dancing in Atlanta, GA, for contributing her ideas to this article. Have more ways to save? Share your strategies as we work our way through this challenge together.

This information contained herein does not constitute medical, financial, legal, or other professional advice and is meant to be used solely for informational purposes. It does not take into account your specific circumstances and should be not acted on without full understanding of your current situation, future goals and/or objectives by a qualified professional. Mindbody assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein. 

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