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Now, for tomorrow: Steps for Ottawa businesses to survive the downturn – and be ready to ride the recovery

Ken Tammadge
Ken Tammadge

Most business owners and managers have been through turbulent times before. But for many, the COVID-19 crisis has had an unprecedented impact on their revenues, operations and ability to forecast their financial picture even a few months out.

Despite the current uncertainty, there are practical measures business owners can take to strengthen their current position and orient their company for success when the economy emerges from the COVID-19 slowdown, says Michael Hayward, a tax partner at Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP, an accountancy and business advisory firm that helps companies in the National Capital Region prepare for long-term success.  

For the majority of businesses, payroll and rent are among their biggest expenses. One of the first steps for any business owner is to take a holistic look at their balance sheet and review opportunities to reduce costs while keeping key parts of their workforce intact, says Hayward. 

“We’ve encouraged clients to try to take as long-term of a view as possible so that you can understand where you can cut costs,” he says, adding that businesses should review their balance sheets on a weekly, if not daily basis. “If you could get some small wins in terms of delayed payment across a whole series of suppliers, that can make a big difference in preserving some cash flow.”

Hayward also points to the importance of financial institutions. Companies should consider reaching out to their banks to discuss increasing their lines of credit or what lending options are available to ensure funds are available when needed most. 

“Even if you don’t necessarily need access to that kind of money now, it’s a lot easier to apply for it, obtain it and put it in place before you need it, as opposed to at the eleventh hour when you’re in desperate need,” he adds. 

Sourcing new revenue

While reducing spending is a helpful way to conserve cash, companies can still find new sources of growth even amidst an economic downturn. 

A good way for companies to find new opportunities is by identifying other aspects of the business that could be profitable, and pivoting their focus, says Ken Tammadge, managing partner at Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP.

Businesses should try to keep open lines of communication with customers and take stock of what assets and relationships they can leverage to get through the difficult period, he adds. 

“Maintaining relationships is critical, especially in times of crisis,” says Tammadge. “Even if it’s a simple phone call or email, those connections can save a business once things return to normal.” 

And although the challenges may seem daunting, Tammadge points to the many government assistance programs as another possible source of help for businesses. While at times difficult to navigate, Tammadge says the Baker Tilly team has been monitoring and analyzing the latest announcements to help its clients make it through the crisis. 

“In terms of any of the subsidy programs or any of the economic measures that might be able to help our clients, we’re right on top of it,” he adds. “We know these are critical times, so we are well versed in order to help plan for tomorrow.”

Baker Tilly helping businesses plan ‘Now, for tomorrow’

Collins Barrow offices across the country and its well-known accountancy and business advisory firm in Ottawa, rebranded in 2019 and took on the name of its larger global network, Baker Tilly. 

The rebrand reflects the company’s dedication to a unified global voice, and represents the ability of the company to serve customers the world over. 

“It was important for us to show that we’re still locally connected with our clients and have maintained that local feel, but we are a globally connected firm,” says Tammadge. “We want to emphasize that it’s the same people, the same team, just a new name.” 

The Baker Tilly Ottawa LLP team continues to foster great relationships and conversations with clients while helping them plan for the future success of their companies.