Jeff Dawley – President and Founder of Cybersecurity Compliance Corp.
In 2017, I found myself once again in the position of Chief Financial Officer taking on an IT department and looking for information on how to assess the department’s performance, but more urgently in today’s environment, our cybersecurity status.
After several months of research and seminars, it became clear to me that the market was inadvertently conspiring to prevent small businesses from having the ability to engage affordable, stage-appropriate cybersecurity help that would actually provide a full picture of our cybersecurity exposure.
Subsequent conversations with business executives, board members, and industry professionals confirmed that there are two particular barriers that make it difficult for small businesses to find a starting point when dealing with their own cybersecurity needs.
What is your key advice to small business owners during these challenging times? And what steps should they take to keep their small business afloat during the current crisis?
- Focus on cash. Businesses should be running daily updates to day-to-day cash flow forecasts running out 3 to 6 months. Surprises are the enemy when there is a shortage of revenue and/or cash versus operating expenses. Lining up additional investment or debt support takes more time now than it did pre-crisis, so reliable forecasting becomes crucial in evaluating the timing of efforts to raise funds.
- Be open and frequent with communication to all stakeholders. Building trust takes years, losing it takes only a moment. Employees and investors can’t effectively perform their roles if they are involved in day-to-day cash monitoring and management, but they need to be kept informed of current status and any changes in order to maintain trust in management and to be able to focus on their tasks or roles.
- Make decisions that are best for the long-term survival of the business. It may make for some difficult conversations and stress in the lead-up, but if there is no business, there are no salaries, no dividends and no profitable exits in the future. If you are communicating well, stakeholders will support the long-term vision and are more likely to remain engaged and support the measures that need to be taken.
- Look for new opportunities. Businesses need to either be looking for ways to adapt products and services to changing market conditions, or looking for partnership or investment opportunities that will enable them to grow their way out of the current climate of uncertainty. Listening and looking doesn’t cost money, and may result in a new opportunity that helps deliver short-term stability and future growth.