Finding Opportunity Amid Economic Upheaval



As Michigan forges ahead through the holiday season with new restrictions as part of a statewide three-week pause, small business owners are looking for answers. CPAs in client advisory roles will need to help those clients find opportunity where upheaval threatens to prevail with the assumption that shutdowns could continue well beyond the new year. There may not be a one-solution-fit-all strategy, but there are both general and industry-specific tactics advisors and their clients can explore to find the advantage in a disadvantaged business environment.

Cutting expenses that aren’t driving revenue, tracking cashflow, creating dynamic forecasting models, revisiting invoice terms and exploring credit options are all sound pieces of advice and practical strategies for tightening purse that most CPAs are likely already exploring, so what else is there to do? According to Forbes, pushing your clients away from new verticals and doubling down on their core business while simultaneously encouraging them to increase their online presence are both key to bracing for economic downturns.

Moreover, if there were any lessons from COVID-19 which could be applied across every industry, the importance of communication and technological adoption top the charts. Maintaining relationships with clients and vendors goes hand in hand with a business’ online presence, as social media and collaborative platforms such as Microsoft Teams have been indispensable tools of nearly every trade in 2020. For businesses that rely on in-person services especially, being able to pivot and diversify those offerings is key1.

According to the Journal of Accountancy, pivoting is exactly what Sandy Shecter, CPA, CGMA and firmwide director of Rehman Solutions, who resides in Detroit, worked closely with clients in the health industry during the early stages of the pandemic to achieve. From the ability to open to patient volume, many of her clients were adversely impacted by ordered shutdowns. Not only did Shecter’s firm assist their clients with Paycheck Protection Program applications, but she also assisted with the envisioning of telemedicine, outsourcing bookkeeping and accounting and driving client adoption of patient portals to facilitate better communication among other things2.

These are only a few examples of how to find opportunities to drive business during an economic downturn, but the most salient advice for any CPA advising clients right now is to know your client. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each business individually, being proactive and even a little imaginative will guide you toward the best solution for each situation, be that outsourcing administrative tasks such as payroll or adjusting your menu of services. Use the tools at hand and, most importantly, don’t forget to tap your network, including your state association.

  1. Forbes Finance Council. “14 Pro Strategies to Brace Your Business for Economic Downturns.” Forbes. 23 Nov. 2020. Accessed on 30 Nov. 2020.
  2. Dennis, Anita. “How CPAs Help Clients Reinvent Struggling Businesses During COVID-19.” Journal of Accountancy. 19 Nov. 2020. Accessed 30 Nov. 2020.

Source: MICPA

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