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    HOW TO: NEXT STEPS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

    In recent months, the Alabama economy has been grappling with uncertainty due to COVID-19. While many things remain uncertain at this time, one thing that is certain is that Alabama businesses will pull through this, and our economy will rebound. When the dust settles, bankers will be eager to help businesses find a viable path forward. For a customer-focused bank like Valley, we don’t just want you to survive, we want you to thrive. So, what can business owners do during this period of uncertainty? Here are three ideas:

    GET YOUR RECORDS IN ORDER
    A good rule of thumb is to have five years of tax records on hand to show historic revenue and expense trends to better demonstrate need for recovery funds in the coming weeks and months. While COVID-19 is unprecedented, and we can’t predict what the exact parameters of special SBA-sponsored loans will be, having current financials will speed up any assistance.
    Being able to demonstrate a solid business plan and track record of success leading up to this unprecedented event will also be important in renegotiating the terms of your loan when the economy starts to rebound, if that’s what you’re looking to do.

    GET CREATIVE IN FINDING NEW WAYS TO BRING IN REVENUE
    The average small business has 27 days of cash on hand, so many businesses are going to need loans and any revenue they can find in coming months. Try thinking outside your existing business model to find alternative or partial revenue streams.

    At Valley, we are currently offering qualified customers a working line of credit to help them get over the hump. However, finding a way to earn even a small percentage of your pre- COVID-19 revenue might help your business wait out the uncertainty and make your cash reserves last longer.

    Two unique examples of Valley customers finding alternative business models for our new normal include a bookstore and a fitness studio — both had to shut their doors due to shelter in place type orders.
    The bookstore transitioned to providing advice on what books to buy over the phone. Since it receives a percentage of online sales, it found that while “in-person” retail shopping is out, personal conversations and recommendations from a trusted source are still in and can drive sales. The fitness studio was focused on providing cycling, yoga and community. After being open for a mere 16 days, it was forced to close. In just six days, it transitioned to offer digital classes to its members.

    TALK TO YOUR BANKER 
    At Valley, we are working with qualified customers on everything from deferring payments to waiving overdraft charges and penalties for early CD withdrawals. We’re also helping qualified customers get working lines of credit and advising them on registering with the SBA to apply for loans. You’ll never know what you qualify for, or what your banker can do to help, if you don’t reach out.

    MEET THE EXPERT
    Chase Hardy is the Vice President of Commercial Banker for Valley National Bank. Contact him at 314-301-5918 or chardy@valley.com.
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