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Hope springs eternal. Whatever you do, don’t give up

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AT THE TIME of writing, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide has risen to 1,018,107 (89,081 a month earlier) and the number of deaths is now 53,251 (3,057 a month ago). Lockdown has been imposed on the UK and in many countries worldwide too. This is how much has changed in just a month since I wrote my last article. 

So trying to attempt to predict what will happen in the near future is nigh on impossible. However, what I have noticed anecdotally is more people gradually starting to return to work but within the social distancing rules; for example construction workers.

Also if the concept of an ‘immunity passport’ becomes accepted and widespread testing becomes available then many more people could return to work sooner than Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s initial forecast of 12 weeks to contain COVID-19 in the UK.

So if you are running a business and you are particularly badly affected by the government’s lockdown, what should you do? The first thing to do is not panic. 

Easier said than done of course. I personally own several businesses. Some are more badly affected than others.

What I have discovered is that if you speak to suppliers, landlords, lenders and government, the usual reaction is one of sympathy and co-operation. After all, we are all in the same boat and it is not our individual faults that this has happened. 

Some people are unsympathetic and totally unreasonable. They need a reality check. There will always be a minority of people who are selfish and mean-spirited. They are the ones to sever your relationships with for good.

So what can you do? If your business is about to fail then simply shut up shop and close down. If you own a limited company then consider a voluntary liquidation and appoint an insolvency practitioner. 

If you are a sole trader or a partner in a firm consider an Individual Voluntary Arrangement with your creditors. You could potentially restart the business under a new vehicle and even buy the old business albeit at a much lower value. 

If your business is likely to survive then apply for all of the government help you can get. Whatever you do, do not give up hope. The world has not ended. Remember, hope springs eternal.

Plenty of positives will come out of this experience even though it is hard to imagine them at the moment.

Tony Byrne is a chartered and certified financial planner, a chartered wealth manager and author of Wealth Magic.

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