Coffee Talk – 2nd Quarter 2020

Moving Montana Forward

The first half of 2020 is over. What a year it has been so far! No one could have predicted the events of the past six months and it’s uncertain what the next six months will bring.

What is clear is that we need to keep moving forward, one step at a time. A good place to start is supporting local business. When we help our local businesses move forward, we move our communities forward, which then moves Montana forward.

Across the US, I’m predicting a quarter of all businesses in the country will be lost to the COVID -related economic crisis. These losses will occur over the next year or so. Montanans are hardworking, resilient and take care of one another, so I’m predicting we will not lose that many businesses. However, one small business lost in Montana is too many!

Bill Coffee with King Avenue Tellers

Bill Coffee with King Avenue Tellers

So what should businesses be doing right now to move forward through this crisis? I have participated in numerous meetings, discussions and media interviews over the past few months and am often asked this very question.

Here is my answer:

  1. First and foremost, don’t just automatically run out and borrow as much as you can. The State of Montana, US Small Business Administration and other agencies have some helpful programs. However, it may not be best for your situation to borrow the maximum from each eligible program. Make sure you understanding the parameters (eligibility, payback/forgiveness, reporting/monitoring, etc.) and your anticipated use of the funds.
  2. Give serious thought, with realistic expectations, to how long it will take you to get back to pre-COVID levels. I believe it will take most small businesses 12-18 months to get back to these levels. Some will never get back to these levels.
  3. Do strategic planning about your business needs. Don’t just go back to what you were previously doing. Plan how your business will operate during this restart period and then the next phase after restart. You will need to scale your business, plan your budget, inventory, work force, and other aspects accordingly. Unfortunately, it is not, and will not, just be business as usual. Many business models will be permanently changed.
  4. After this thorough soul searching, planning and projecting, contact your banker to discuss the available options. Focus on your specific needs and what you anticipate the future holds.

Over the past three months, we have helped nearly 3,300 Montana businesses obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling over $300 million. These loans helped local businesses keep their doors open and their people employed. Our business bankers and lenders are now ready to help businesses through this next phase. If you need us, please don’t hesitate to call or click.

There is nothing more beautiful than summer in Montana. Get out, enjoy our great state and support our local businesses which are truly the backbone of Montana. Together, we will continue to move Montana forward.


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