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5 Pieces of Advice for Business Owners During a Global Health Emergency

5 Pieces of Advice for Business Owners During a Global Health Emergency

Service Businesses  |  Healthcare  |  Manufacturing & Distribution  |  Government Contractors  |  Construction & Real Estate

It’s been several months since the early days of the pandemic when many businesses closed their doors and sent their employees home to work remotely or await reopening. To survive, businesses had to find new and creative ways to adapt and overcome. However, even as the weeks have stretched to months, many business owners are still facing new pandemic related challenges every day.

That’s why I, along with a few of my colleagues at Gross Mendelsohn, banded together to offer some of our biggest pieces of pandemic related advice for business owners as part of the firm’s new weekly video series, Advice From.

Below is just some of the advice from the series so far.

1. Communication Sets the Tone from the Top

As the firm’s managing partner, my biggest tip for business owners is this: communication sets the tone at the top and consistency matters.

With most of the firm working remotely during the early months of the pandemic, the only way to get things done was to be in constant communication with one another. While I miss being able to stop by someone’s office to debate tax strategies and talk about the Ravens, I will say that video calls and instant messaging have helped to get some things done more efficiently.

As a leader at your business, being visible and accessible is important. Leaders should have an open door policy so team members don’t feel like they are intruding when talking to you.

2. Keep Your Business in a Flexible Position to Keep Employees Safe

Flexibility is vital when it comes to keeping employees safe during a global health pandemic. Gross Mendelsohn’s director of human resources, Linda Pietras, recommends reviewing local and federal health guidelines to create a health and safety plan for your employees.

“If you already have a plan in place, keep up on changes,” Linda said. “Make sure you are clearly communicating your workplace expectations and health and safety protocols to employees.”

Businesses need to ensure they keep the lines of communication open. At Gross Mendelsohn, we use virtual town halls, firmwide email updates and one-on-one communication with our team to ensure our employees are up-to-date.

Linda’s biggest piece of advice for businesses though is to stay the course. “Dealing with this pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint,” she said. “Keep your business in a flexible position so you are able to change with the times.”

3. Tax Planning is More Important than Ever

As we enter the fourth quarter of 2020, now is the time to start looking at your business’s tax planning and projections. “If you received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, it could potentially create some taxable income that you aren’t expecting,” said Dan Larson, tax partner at Gross Mendelsohn.

The IRS has issued guidance stating that expenses related to PPP loan forgiveness are nondeductible. Taking a proactive look at potential taxable income is important in planning for the taxable years ahead.

Given how unique this year has been with new tax laws, government aid programs and changes in business activity, it’s a good time to evaluate what tax opportunities are out there. For example, changes to net operating losses (NOLs) under the CARES Act may allow your business to file amended returns for 2018, 2019 and 2020 to claim back those NOLs.

Get more advice like this in our weekly video series, Advice From.

4. Wait the Full 24 Weeks to Apply for PPP Forgiveness

Ernie Paszkiewicz, audit partner at Gross Mendelsohn, has been helping clients with the PPP since March, but the biggest question he’s gotten is about loan forgiveness.

“We recommend waiting the full 24 weeks to apply for loan forgiveness,” Ernie said. “Don’t try to go for a shorter period.”

If you opt for a shorter loan period, you lose the ability to get your full-time equivalents up to where they were pre-pandemic. In fact, the only time to consider a shorter loan forgiveness period is if you are expecting another round of layoffs.

By waiting the full 24 weeks to apply for forgiveness, there is a better chance your business will receive 100% loan forgiveness. This is because waiting the full 24 weeks almost guarantees your payroll costs will cover your loan amount, meaning you won’t need to worry about forgiveness for other expenses like rent and utilities.

5. Take Advantage of Virtual Networking

“Now more than ever, it’s so important to continue networking and making new connections,” said Lisa Carmichael, Gross Mendelsohn’s director of business development.

While networking opportunities seemed to dry up right at the beginning of the pandemic, new virtual opportunities have allowed professionals to network from the safety of their homes or offices.

“We are so lucky to have the technology that allows us to connect virtually with people,” Lisa said. She recommends taking advantage of virtual networking wherever possible, and if you can’t find a group that resonates with you, start your own!

Creating your own virtual networking group can be an easy way to meet new contacts and nurture your existing network. You can also use video conferencing to meet your contacts one-on-one for virtual coffee, lunch or happy hour.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to grow my network almost more than I would have been able to in-person by taking advantage of virtual networking opportunities,” Lisa said.

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Published on October 14, 2020