Planning Ahead For Your Business

Jennifer McCluskey

I am proud of all the work that you and all of our North Country business owners have done to make it through this difficult time. We may have a long road ahead, but you have worked hard to get here and have held on through many challenges. One way to be stronger for the path ahead is to take a good hard look at how your business did during this crisis and find out if there are things that you could do better to prepare for the future. This is a great time to figure out a solid contingency plan for your business, since this disaster may have exposed areas in which your business is weaker. You have a chance now to learn and to figure out policies that will allow you to be better prepared in the future. 

    One big area where businesses struggle significantly is cash flow and being able to set aside a “cushion” of savings. Sometimes businesses expand too fast or buy that bright shiny piece of new equipment maybe before they were ready. This pandemic may have shown you that your cushion might have been too small to deal with a possible emergency. Have you ever played the board game Risk? In the game of Risk, if you expand too fast then on the next turn the other players will wipe out all your armies because you’ll be too weak to defend. You have to expand slowly from a solid base that can be maintained. It’s the same in business: you need to shore up your current business and have enough savings to support yourself before you start trying to expand. 

    I know this is hard for businesses that are constantly living on the edge of solvency. But maybe now is a good time to make a financial plan to figure out how you can get to the point where you do have enough of a cushion to get through a couple of months with little to no income. And if you don’t think it’s possible for your business to ever get to that point, maybe you need to make some radical changes, or possibly maybe it’s time to move on and try something new. Talk to your SBDC counselor. We can help you develop strategies, look through your budget and see where changes can be made, and provide support in whatever way you need. 

    Other areas you might want to consider looking at include:  

  • Develop work from home or contingency location plans. You may have found that having some of your employees work from home went OK for your business. If you likely now have the technology capabilities you need to implement this strategy again in the future if needed.  
  • Assess communication between you and your employees. Now that they are back in the office, find out if there could be ways that you all could communicate better in the future. What systems are you going to put in place so people can get access to critical information and can make critical decisions? Does everyone know his or her role in a crisis?
  • Put key business instructions in writing in an employee manual, or consider training employees to be able to do each other’s jobs. What if a key employee or owner gets sick? Would the business be able to function without that person? Are other people than the business owner authorized to speak to the bank, accountants, and attorneys if needed?

If you need assistance with your business during this difficult time, you can reach out to your local Small Business Development Center office. If we can’t meet with you in person, we can talk on the phone, teleconference, or email, whichever works for you. We are free, confidential, and always available to help. You can reach the SUNY Canton SBDC at (315) 386-7312, SUNY Canton SBDC at Clinton Community College at (518) 324-7232, or the Watertown SBDC at JCC (315) 782-9262. 

Learning The Trade

SYDNEY SCHAEFER/NNY BUSINESS
Inside the mechatronics lab at the Lewis County Jefferson Community College Education Center in Lowville.

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Healing Hands: Nursing degree provides economic wellness and health

SYDNEY SCHAEFER / NNY BUSINESS
Megan Finucane, left, and Katie O’Brien, right, sisters who both work in the Intensive Care Unit at Samaritan Medical Center, pose for a portrait inside an empty patient room at Samaritan. Both went through Jefferson Community College’s nursing program and O’Brien is a nursing instructor at the college.

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August 2016: Small Business Success

Understand options for crowdfunding

Jennifer McCluskey

Jennifer McCluskey

Crowdfunding, using various internet platforms like GoFundMe and Kickstarter to reach multiple investors, has been increasing by leaps and bounds over the last few years. So is crowdfunding a possibility for your business?

Certain types of products or businesses work better for crowdfunding than others. New and exciting businesses and products, nonprofits that can help people connect to a cause, or anything else that could get regular people excited to donate their hard-earned money may do well with crowdfunding. [Read more…]

July 2016 Feature Story: Saint Lawrence Spirits

The ‘Spirit of the River’

St. Lawrence Distillery owners Jody Garrett, left, and his son, Bill, in the taproom at the Clayton facility. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Saint Lawrence Spirits owners Jody Garrett, left, and his son, Bill, in the taproom at the Clayton facility. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Hyper-local farm distillery to open in Clayton this summer

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

Sitting outside Fairview Manor in Clayton and looking out over the St. Lawrence River, there couldn’t be a better place that encompasses the feel of the Thousand Islands region, which was Jody Garrett’s plan design from the beginning for his distillery. [Read more…]

June 2016: People on the Move

Children’s Home director certified as human resources professional

Roshia

Roshia

Jesse Roshia, Children’s Home of Jefferson County director of human resources, recently passed the Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional Exam. [Read more…]

June 2016: Business Briefcase

American Wine Society honors Coyote Moon

Coyote Moon Vineyards’ 2013 Marquette Special Reserve was named among the “Top 21 Wines to Watch” by Ellen Landis of the American Wine Society’s Wine Journal. [Read more…]

June 2016 20 Questions: Rande S. Richardson, NNY Community Foundation

Giving for a greater good

Rande4 WEB

Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation, at the future home of the foundation and the new Northern New York Philanthropy Center, 131 Washington St. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

NNY Community Foundation plans Philanthropy Center, expanded mission

For nearly 87 years, the Northern New York Community Foundation has worked to strengthen communities across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by investing in efforts to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play in the north country. Next year, the community foundation will move its offices to a historically renovated building that formerly housed the Black River Valley Club in the heart of downtown Watertown. The move will also open the doors to the Northern New York Philanthropy Center, a new endeavor for the community foundation that aims to put philanthropy within reach of everyday people. This month, we sit down with Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the community foundation since 2009, to learn more about the foundation’s mission and how it continues to serve north country residents. [Read more…]

JCC President Carole McCoy announces retirement next year

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy, seen here congratulating Charles Hartley upon receiving his diploma during last Friday's commencement ceremony, announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy, seen here congratulating Charles Hartley upon receiving his diploma during last Friday’s commencement ceremony, announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. [Read more…]

City finishing up $10 million downtown application

City officials are putting together the final touches on an application for a $10 million award from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative program. [Read more…]