Many business owners who are members of the National Guard or Reserves have many things that they need to consider before they deploy. In previous posts we have discussed a few of your options on whether to Sustain or Suspend your business. Here are a few more items to consider and a checklist to help keep you on track.
Securing your Investment
Whether you choose to suspend or sustain your business, keeping your investment secure is a must while you are deployed. This means protecting your business, your customers, and yourself. This section will help you ensure your business is secure until you return.
- Storing records: All customer records, accounts, credit card numbers, and other confidential information must be stored in a secure location.
○ Computerized: If you keep this information online, make sure your computer is protected from viruses and keep the information behind an encrypted password.
○ On paper: If this information is kept in paper files, make sure the file cabinet is locked, and no one but one person you completely trust has a key to the cabinets, and the cabinets are in a secure location.
- Protecting your office:
○ Security alarms: If you don’t already have a security system you should install one.
○ Physical inspections: Have someone you trust do periodic checks on the business. Make sure they have a key and can check inside as well for things such as leaks, infestations, and other problems that could go undetected from the outside.
○ Local police: Let your local department know that your business will be closed while you are deployed. Having the police perform drive-by checks while you are gone can help keep your business safe at night and other times when its security might be compromised.
- Leaving necessary utilities on: Certainly utilities can certainly be turned off while you are away, but others such as gas or electricity will be necessary to heat your building, run the security alarm, and perform other necessary functions. Make sure you turn off only what you can and leave necessary utilities on.
- Keeping your deployment private: Never broadcast the fact that you are out of the country. Putting a sign on the window, leaving it in your phone message, announcing it in email responses, or letting customers know via your website is just asking for your business to be vandalized or broken into. It is certainly understandable to want to let customers know you are being deployed overseas. To the general public, you can simply say that you have closed your business temporarily for personal reasons.
- Safeguarding your finances: Establish a system of checks and balances to safeguard your business and yourself against embezzlement, fraud, and unauthorized withdrawals from your accounts. If you keep your accounts open, let your bank and credit card companies know that you or someone you designate should be contacted if there is any unauthorized activity on your accounts. Designate someone you trust who will be able to review your accounts on your behalf.
Loans for Military Reservists (MREIDL)
The purpose of the Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) is to provide funds to eligible small businesses to meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to meet, because an essential employee was “called-up” to active duty in their role as a Military Reservist. These loans are intended only to provide the amount of working capital needed by a small business to pay its necessary obligations as they mature until operations return to normal after the essential employee is released from active military duty. The purpose of these loans is not to cover lost income or lost profits. MREIDL funds cannot be used to take the place of regular commercial debt, to refinance long-term debt or to expand the business.
To learn more about the MREIDL, check out one of our earlier posts, which provides a more in depth overview of the MREIDL loan.
Primary Business Concerns
|Decide whether to suspend or sustain operations|
|Designate key manager|
Updating Your Business
|Invest in training for yourself and your key managers|
Legal and Administrative Concerns
|Notify your legal and financial advisers about your deployment or potential of future mobilization|
|Assign power of attorney|
|Review Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) as needed|
|Review Service members Civil Relief Act|
|Review insurance status|
|Address the following Items:|
|Warranties/Guarantees for your product, service, or contract|
| Contracts and agreements: assignment, completion, non-complete, confidentiality,
nondisclosure, franchise, etc.
|Contingent legal problems such as litigation, disputes, or judgments|
|Strategic alliance agreements and obligations|
|Labor union agreements|
|Meet with employees to discuss future company objectives|
|Thoroughly review your business and identify problem areas|
|Review a list of assets and perform a physical inventory|
|Notify IRS of your deployment status|
|Identify any unresolved tax issues|
|Check IRS for updated tax information|
Other Financial Considerations
|Review the financial portions of your updated business plan (See administrative issues)|
|Determine financial needs prior to mobilization|
|Contact your lenders|
|Inform and request assistance from vendors and creditors|
|Loan deferral or interest rate restructuring as needed|
|Update listing in Dun & Bradstreet|
|Review credit report|
|Review and update all signature authorities|
|Review existing business plan or create a business plan|
|Check credit rating|
|Review Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) if needed|
|Determine eligibility for military transitional healthcare|
|Update your and your family’s status in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Referral System (DEERS)|
|Review civilian insurance policy and decide whether to discontinue or change coverage|
|Change plans as appropriate and ensure proper enrollment/disenrollment dates|
|Explore veterans service organizations and small business association memberships for insurance plans|
|Determine the needs of your current customers by:|
|Reanalyze your company’s competitive advantages in order to update your market strategy|
|Determine the best way to satisfy your customers' needs in the current market|
|List all current and prospective customers|
|Summarize competitors' products|
|Research your competitors' strengths and weaknesses|
|Obtain copies of your competitors’ annual reports|
|Examine the strength of the current market|
|If applicable, notify your customers that your business will be temporarily closing|
|Obtain and compare competitors’ annual reports for the financial condition of businesses, market share, and insight into future projects|
|Conduct market research to determine current market strength for your industry.|
Hopefully these posts have given you some insight on how to put a plan together and what to consider for your business in the event of a deployment. As a member of the military, service comes first, but it doesn’t mean that your business has to fail. As an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to plan properly and be prepared for the many different obstacles you face.
From Balancing Business and Deployment, U.S. Small Business Administration