12 tips to help business clients navigate the effects of the coronavirus

Client Relationships tax accountant

With all of us dealing with the effects of the new coronavirus and tax updates constantly in the news, our lives are anything but business as usual. Regardless, this is a time when your clients want to hear from you, perhaps more than ever, to get support and advice.

My team has found this to be the case in our firm. In fact, even though we’re working remotely, we’re busier than ever communicating with our clients on a regular basis. Here’s a list of 12 tips you can review and share with your clients to maximize your trusted advisor role.

  1. Stay up to date with IRS filing and payment due date changes, along with state filing deadline and payment changes. Check resources like the IRS coronavirus website as well as our COVID-19 and taxes article so you can understand how each of your clients are affected.
  2. Stay current with your state unemployment resources, and consider the benefits released under the IRS Families First Coronavirus Response Act as they may apply to your clients.
  3. Communicate often with your clients about the status of your business using social media and email marketing. Ensure your clients know if you’re open (or not) for business, and how to best reach you digitally if your physical office is closed.
  4. Share programs such as Intuit’s Small Business Relief initiative to help small businesses in need organize a GoFundMe campaign and support fundraisers.
  5. Talk to your small business clients about SBA Disaster Loan Assistance as a way to help with cash flow. The interest rates are low. Let your clients know that the website is overloaded and crashing often, so be patient and consider working on the application late at night or early in the morning.
  6. Recommend that your clients communicate with their bankers about available funding sources.
  7. Advise that your clients take a hard look at their vendors and expenses, and determine if there are some short-term cash savings by cancelling or putting certain things on hold. However, we should all treat vendors with dignity; they have likely been a big part of our past success, and we’ll need them again in the future.
  8. Remind your clients to communicate often with their teams about how the business is doing and what the plan is to get through this pandemic. Employees are likely scared, so they need leadership’s reassurance of the path forward. Leadership should help them stay motivated and focused – business must continue! Your clients can keep an eye on team culture, especially if they’re now managing a remote workforce.
  9. Ask your business clients if they have plans in place for business continuity, such as documented processes and employee redundancy. If not, now is the time to build these plans to ensure business can go on if an employee is unable to work.
  10. Your small business clients likely have insurance for business interruption. Now is the time for these business owners to find out if and how they are covered against viruses and pandemics.
  11. Bouncing ideas off a trusted group of people is incredibly valuable. As leaders, small business owners should make sure they have a group of people and peers they can collaborate with. The pressure leaders are facing is unimaginable, and decisions have to be made quickly without all of the facts. Help your clients find this trusted group if they don’t have one already, and be a trusted advisor they can count on.
  12. The Stockdale Paradox popularized in Jim Collin’s “Good to Great” is something I’ve been using to navigate these times: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

What are you tips to help your clients succeed through these challenging times? Please share them below in a comment so we can share best practices with each other.

 

Editor’s note: Visit the Intuit Accountant and Tax Professional COVID-19 Resource Center for information and tools to help you and your clients navigate these challenging times.

Comments (6) Leave your comment

  1. Ludmila Gleizer
    I would like to know if SBA loans received by small business have to be repaid and when?
    Workers who are receiving Unemployment Insurance and get paid additional $600
    are fully taxable at end of year?

  2. The trucking industry felt a sudden upsurge as consumers stockpiled supplies. Those business owners are asking if they should revive depreciated assets such as older trucks and containers, knowing that the upsurge may just as suddenly disappear when the pandemic crisis passes.

    1. Larry, we are unable to give tax advise, but here are some thoughts from a few of our tax experts. Reviving old trucks and containers to meet the surge is business may be more practical than purchasing new equipment. Once the surge is over, the trucks could be retired again. The cost of initial repairs and the operating cost would be fully deductible. Since they have already been fully depreciated, there would not be any further depreciation expense allowed. We hope this is helpful!

    2. I recommend reviving them. Long-life fixed moveable assets were made for this purpose. Whenever you can return equipment to service and reduce the salvage value, you can expect an increase in profits.

      The reason is because you are utilizing cost efficient equipment in a limited capacity, short term and increasing revenue. Further, ensure you use your more economical crew, check and inspect equipment for safety, make minor repairs if necessary and notify your bookkeeper that you are putting certain equipment back online.

      Finally, be sure to monitor performance to make sure service is maintained and safety is accomplished.

  3. I would like to know if the $1200 relief checks are going to be paid back when filing 2020 income taxes. I read an article in Forbes magazine that says the checks are considered advances on 2020 tax refunds. Is this true? If so, what will be consequences especially if you don’t receive a refund.
    Thanks.

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