Business Operators Need to Do These 7 Things Right Now

Published April 27th, 2020 by Kai Jacobs

“Delay is the deadliest form of denial,” wrote C. Northcote Parkinson.

Right now, too many businesses are doing nothing, sitting tight until the nightmare of this pandemic goes away, hoping that having laid people off or cut pay or reduced operations or just shutting down, will save enough of what’s left in the bank to allow them to open back up. But what happens when this over?  Lost or stuck in the need for self-preservation, many businesses do not realize that when the world starts taking steps to return to normal, the floodgates are going to open up.  As is human instinct, many are focused on self-preservation today and not what the long-term event horizon for the business is. But people will want things to go back to “normal” and resume as much of their pre-pandemic lives, as possible – and as soon, as possible. All the obligations that were put on hold when we were told to stay home will still be there.  And what of all of the previously unforeseen situations, opportunities, and recovery that’s going to have to take place in the re-opened world? The real disaster for many businesses looms, not in sitting idle as much as not getting ready for what’s coming when they are allowed to re-open.

Are you ready for what’s coming?  If you plan, you may be able to transition the post-lockdown world into a growth opportunity.  You may be able to recapture lost revenue.  You may be able to not only help yourself and your employees, but the businesses you partner and work with.  Setting yourself up for success now makes all the sense in the world.

To help you on the road to the post-pandemic world, you can use the following checklist to look into the obligations and contracts you had in place before the “new normal” came into being.  They will be the guideposts by which much of your recovery depends, whether you are the one who needs to enforce it or needs to try to modify it.   

  1. Signed Contracts. Do you have signed copies of your contracts?  You might be surprised to find that, in the heat of moving ahead or working with a long-term customer or supplier, the parties did not actually sign the contract.
  2. Know Your Numbers. Do you have updated payment records?  If you could be fully paid off or had to fully pay your contractual obligation, could you figure the exact amount out in the next five minutes? 
  3. Know Your Notice Requirements.  Does your contract have a requirement that you notify the other party of a late payment, a failure to perform, a delay in delivery?  Does it also give the other party an opportunity to explain or cure the problem and avoid having to go to court?  Many do and the law often prevents you from going to the next step if you do not comply with this notice requirement first.
  4. Mitigate. Have you taken affirmative steps to avoid or minimize any loss or delay?  The law requires you to do this, irrespective of what your contract says.
  5. Know Your Venue.  Do you know where any effort to enforce a contract would take place?  Many contracts have venue or forum selection clauses that spell out where any dispute over the contract would have to be resolved.
  6. Know Whose Law Applies.  Does your contract state whose law applies to interpret or explain its terms?  Most do and, because laws can vary from state to state, it’s paramount to know what law governs your situation.  
  7. Save The Information.  Have you gathered all of the information about your contract in one place to have it ready for when things start back up?  You are required to.  Data preservation is a big issue in the digital world, plus knowing the most about your situation gives you a big advantage in getting the matter resolved to your satisfaction.

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