Running a business

Small Business Survival Checklist - Stay Afloat In Emergencies

Small Business Survival Checklist, image of a struggling businessperson in a cashflow emergency | Crunch

Table of contents

    If you’re reading this, you’ll probably already know that running a business isn’t a walk in the park, even at the very best of times.

    At Crunch, we’ve been helping small businesses achieve their goals for over a decade. We’ve put this handy, jargon-free checklist together to prepare you for when those times take a turn for the worse.

    Despite the many benefits of being your own boss, difficulties can arise from all angles, and it pays to have processes and strategies in place for the next crisis, whether it’s a bit of a dry spell or a global pandemic.

    This collection of helpful advice will help you ensure you’re accessing all the financial help that’s available to you, point you towards some great marketing ideas you can use to stand out from your peers, and free time-saving resources that could help you in times of need.


    With the constantly shifting range of support schemes, social restrictions and changing rules surrounding the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, it’s important that you have jargon-free guidance to the help that is available to you and your business.

    Our article ‘What help is available for small businesses, gig workers, and the self-employed affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)?’ is kept up to date with all the latest schemes and developments.

    We recommend bookmarking it to ensure you’re always in the loop during the pandemic.

    Effective cashflow management

    Small businesses falling apart due to ineffective cashflow management is far from uncommon, especially in their first few years. It pays to pay close attention to the money arriving and departing from your business at all times, whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned pro. A lack of cash in the kitty will mean you’ll struggle to pay your staff, rent or suppliers.

    If you’re strapped for cash and feeling the pinch, you might find yourself getting into a state of panic and having to deal with overdrafts and credit fees. These can be difficult to manage and even harder to recover from, so it’s important to always plan ahead, keeping cash reserves available whenever possible.

    If you do find yourself in a cash flow emergency, there are ways to tackle the situation and lessen the impact on your business.

    Our article ‘How can I improve my cash flow, and what should I do in a cash flow emergency?’ will give you some pointers on ensuring there’s more money coming in than going out as well as a handy spreadsheet to help you forecast your cash flow.

    Emergency Funding

    There are plenty of different routes here are a number of routes you can take to acquire emergency funding.

    We’ve put together an extensive list in our article Grants, startup loans and freebies: financial help for your business. During the Covid crisis, you should also consider whether your business could apply for a Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan or any of the other support available to businesses such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employed Income Support Scheme. Our Covid-19 Hub is always up to date with the latest support.

    Making the Most of Your Time

    If you’re working for yourself then the days of you worrying about your manager tapping their watch at you have been and gone (thank goodness!) but now that the responsibility falls on you alone – it’s important to be disciplined enough to avoid a productivity drop-off.

    Struggling to get work finished on time can have incredibly stressful consequences when the jobs are piling up and clients are starting to get tetchy.

    We’ve put together a list of productivity-boosting online tools which might free up more of your much-needed time and help you manage your day more effectively.

    Business Plan

    Hopefully, you’ll have put together a business plan at the beginning of your business journey. If not – don’t panic, there’s still time to write one, it will still be useful, and we’re here to help. Writing or revisiting your business plan can be a great way to ensure you’ve considered every small detail about your business strategy, and truly understand the wants and needs of your potential clients.

    Some areas you thought were airtight at the time may need some serious updating.

    Our ‘How To Write a Business Plan‘ guide will run you through everything you should include.

    Business Continuity Plan

    As well as a business plan, you’ll benefit from having a robust continuity plan in place for difficult periods. You can never be too careful when it comes to preparing for the worst, because you simply never know what may be around the corner, who would have predicted the Coronavirus pandemic for example!

    Of course, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably not too focused on hypothetical problems, and are more concerned about surviving whatever current storm you’re weathering. But if you’re having cashflow issues already, it’s important to remember that one more setback could spell the end of your business.

    Unlike a salaried office worker, you probably aren’t going to be surrounded by fire extinguishers and trained first-aiders in your place of work!

    All of this should hopefully convince you that, while the odds are still small, disaster can strike, and as a responsible business owner you need to be prepared – especially if you have employees who are relying on you for a paycheque.

    Check out our Business Continuity Plan article that outlines everything you should be thinking about when putting one together, or download our template, fill it out, test it, and be prepared.

    Getting the Word Out

    Need more business to come in, and quick? New businesses and seasoned self-employed professionals can all find it difficult to generate leads, sometimes.

    Ensuring you’re maximising every opportunity to catch the eye of your target demographic (and then hook them in) will improve the cashflow and public image of your business, and – just as importantly – your own morale.

    It’s always worth asking your best customers to talk you up to their friends, and give them a little extra service or special thanks for their good deed. Referral or affiliate schemes are excellent ways to build upon this strategy, and positive feedback on relevant review websites can often make or break a customer’s decision to engage with your business.

    We’ve put together an Ultimate Lead Generation Checklist, which will point you towards a bunch of other lead generation methods you might not have considered – everything from the obvious ones like utilising social media channels, to more bizarre ones like crazy publicity stunts involving smelly socks. Take a look!

    Helpful Resources

    We hope this guide has helped you and given you the confidence you need to get your business through this tricky stage. In closing, we just want to draw your attention to some more free tools that you may find incredibly useful in getting your business booming again.

    Free bookkeeping software

    Our free online bookkeeping software is the perfect solution if you’re looking to manage your expenses, send invoices, record your business mileage, link your business bank accounts and keep on top of all your bookkeeping.

    We have simple-to-use versions available for both limited companies and sole traders.

    If you want more expert help and support from our team of superhero client managers and Chartered Certified Accountants, it’s easy to upgrade to a more comprehensive accountancy package to cover your tax filings and much much more.

    Get Crunch Free today!

    Jobs portal

    At Crunch, we work with and support some of the greatest recruiters and self-employed freelancers in the UK. That’s why we started our own Jobs Portal, pairing the best sole traders and limited companies with trusted Crunch partners.

    If you’re looking for your next gig or have a position you need to fill, check out our Crunch Jobs Portal and let us help you find the perfect match. Let us help you find your dream gig!

    Late payment reminder templates

    Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for small businesses to be messed around with late payments from lackadaisical clients. That’s why our Crunch software lets you easily set up automated payment reminders. If your cashflow is suffering as a result, or you’d simply like to make your operations more organised, download our late payment reminders. Choose from ‘Polite nudge’, ‘Firm reminder’, or ‘Final Warning’.

    Crunch Chorus

    All Crunch Chorus members can get access to a range of free time-saving tools, editable spreadsheets, and jargon-free business guides. Best of all, it’s free, and always will be.

    Finally, if you want to network with like-minded self-employed workers – some of whom have been in a similar situation to you – then we’d recommend joining the lively and friendly Crunch Chorus Facebook group.

    If you have any questions about how else Crunch can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!