How Your Startup Will Survive the COVID-19 Crash

Helena Hlas

Apr 3, 2020
minute read

For good reason, the CoronaVirus, or COVID-19, seems to be all we can talk about these days. The impact of the pandemic is being felt across the globe and reminding us of a need for collective moral values and of our common fates across this suddenly tiny planet.

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While we do our best to take every opportunity to pay homage to those under unimaginable stress, putting their well-being on the line while working in grocery stores, transportation, post, essential services and of course in health care and also acknowledge the utmost importance of prioritizing flattening the curve, at Swisspreneur we also want to ease your mind about the financial burdens that almost everyone is encountering during this time.

In addition to our tips and tools sent out in our latest newsletter, we hosted an instagram live Q & A session with Tobias Angern, the owner and CEO of Tresio, a tool that supports companies with digital cash flow planning, to learn valuable tips on how to keep our head above water during this crisis. Realizing that hoarding toilet paper is not part of the equation, we’ve divided up the lessons into three useful sections:

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Liquidity is King

Government Support

Reduced Employment

Liquidity is King

As the shops closed, and consumers switched into crisis mode, companies can’t help but feel their cash burning up. As a business, liquidity is the most important KPI you should focus on, it’s the oxygen you need to breath and if you run out, that’s the end.

To better manage your cash flow it’s suggested that you:

  • Delay the payment of invoice
  • Ensure you get paid as quickly as possible
  • Reduce your costs, for example, by cancelling subscriptions you may not need or negotiating paying your rent later etc.

Government Support

In interest of the people and the economy, the government has stepped up to the plate to show its support and has offered up to 20 billion CHF in interest free loans through your local bank. With this loan you’re eligible for a credit of up to 10% of your last year’s revenue to help cover your expenses for three months. This loan can help you with costs like rent, operating costs, and any other essential funds that would otherwise burn through your cash and likely suffocate your business.

If you are eligible, this loan is a really good opportunity! Not only because it is interest free and 100% of the loan is government backed in case your business defaults, but also because it will be much harder to get a loan after the crisis (perhaps when you finally realize you need it) having had no revenue during this tough time. So, avoid that hindsight remorse, read more about the emergency aid by the Federal Government and apply for it if you need it.

Reduced Employment

The government loan is intended to help you with your liquidity while support for your employees is managed with the social security program. The “Reduced Employment Program” (Kurzarbeit in German), is designed to keep companies from having to lay-off their staff in times of crisis by lowering the burden of salary payments when there is little or no work.

What has been most notable during this time is the revision of the mandatory notification period. This period normally requires employers to notify the canton in writing, ten days before their intention to introduce reduced working hours due to having too little or no work. For the duration of this crisis however, this period has been reduced to three or even zero days in some cases.

Because of this initiative, employers have the ability to lower employee’s workload through short-time working compensation to so much as 0%, depending on your business and how hard you are hit. This means, as an employer you continue to pay a salary (albeit reduced) to your employees and as a company you are eligible to get 80% of your employees salary that’s lost through the reduced employment back from the social security program. Note however, that you must still pay social security contributions for your employees at their full salary rate.

Where employees are getting laid off all across the world, yours would simply need to agree to a pay cut. It’s more administrative effort from an HR standpoint, but the application process has been minimized during this high demand time and is totally worth it in the long run. More information can be retrieved through the Federal Council, AWA or from your cantonal offices as these initiatives may vary across them.

A look at the lighter side:

Before your head explodes with paperwork or from your kids interrupting your work, consider that there is some positive amidst this crisis. This crisis, and your home office has pushed digitization to a new level and forced the economy to get more productive.

If that didn’t lighten things up for you, try Some Good News with John Krasinski.

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