What’s the first step if I can’t pay my debts any more?
Yes, the buck stops with you. But this is an extraordinary time and you’re not in this alone. Always keep that in mind.
Claire Kolbé of Recro Business Services answers:
‘The most important thing is to communicate. Many small business owners are communicating with their suppliers and their staff on a regular basis, and finding that they are amenable to making a plan. But you won’t know if you don’t have those conversations. ‘When going through your list of creditors, remember that subscriptions and memberships also are “creditors”. Cancel everything you don’t need or use. ‘If you have no choice but to cut salaries or retrench staff, involve them in the dialogue from the very start so that they know there’s no money, and keep communicating throughout the process. Yes, some will be so caught up in their own fear that they might be resentful, but generally people know that we have to support one another through this crisis.
Many small business owners are communicating with their suppliers and they are amenable to making a plan. But you won’t know if you don’t have those conversations.’
‘Although it often seems as if employers and employees are on opposing sides, as far as small business owners are concerned, our employees are like family to us. I’ve spoken to many who are not paying themselves during lockdown, because they’d rather use that money to pay their staff. ‘Even before Covid-19, South African businesses were struggling under loadshedding and the weak economy, and now they are taking another knock due to the pandemic, but it’s up to us to make sure that we don’t get knocked out.’