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Temporarily Closing Your Business; A Checklist to Make it Successful

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Temporarily Closing Your Business; A Checklist to Make it Successful

By JimD
Published: October 5, 2010

For many small businesses, temporarily closing the doors is often less of a choice and more of a necessity. Whether you are closing for business or personal reasons, efficient planning will come in handy as you slow down your business activity, and again when yo;re ready to restart your business one day.

Plan Your Timeline

When temporarily closing your business, you will need to figure out a timeline. Are you planning to close for a few months, a few years, or indefinitely? The timeline is a crucial part of the checklist because it dictates how much planning is necessary. Deciding on the duration your business will be closed depends a lot on the reason why you decided to close your business. If you are taking a few years off to go back to school full time, you may only be closing your business for a few years. If you close due to health concerns, it may be a few months before you feel like run your business again.

An option if you are stepping away long-term would be to transfer your business to another person. This is a good option if you have a loyal customer base and you feel that you may want to come back in a few years. It may be better for you to dissolve your business and then, eventually restart your business when you are prepared to do so.

Notify Affected Parties

Keeping affected parties in the loop will make temporarily closing your business much smoother. You can come up with tailored list for your business, but generally, there are five parties you will need to speak with. Ask each of them if there is anything they need from you and explain how you can be contacted if any concerns do arise.

  • State Government.

    To protect your finances and reputation, ensure that you cancel all licenses and permits that you will no longer need. Contact your state business licenses and permits office and tell them how long you plan on being closed. They would be able to advise whether you need to cancel and provide the appropriate cancellation forms.

  • Employees.

    You need to figure out how and when you want to tell your employees that the business will be temporarily closing. If you are afraid of a mass exodus, you may only want to tell key employees and tell the others closer to the date. Generally, the more time you can give people to get their own affairs in order, the smoother the transition can go. Helping your employees with references and connections can help keep morale up.

    Remember to consider your employee- last paychecks, and keep in mind that some states require you to pay out any unused vacation days. Speak to your attorney or contact your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for details on the employment laws in your state.

  • Financial Advisors, Accountants, and Tax Specialists.

    Your professional service providers will need to know what you want them to do while your business is closed. There may be tax and financial related reports due even while your business is closed. Come up with a plan including communication frequency and new responsibilities.

  • Suppliers.

    Simply not reordering your supplies may put your suppliers in a whirlwind. Keep those relationships strong with your suppliers. When you restart your business, you will be relying on your suppliers and you do not want to burn bridges.

  • Creditors.

    You will be responsible for any debts you may have. Temporarily closing your business does not exempt you from making payments. Contact all of your creditors and tell them you are temporarily closing your business. Try to work out a payment plan that will work well with you and your business.

  • Customers.

    If you have the means, your customers should also be contacted. Explain how product or service support will be handled while you are closed, the duration of the close, and consider providing recommendations to other businesses. Remember that customer loyalty is important, especially if you plan to reopen your business after a while.

Lower Costs as Much as Possible

Keeping your costs low while you business is closed is important. With proper planning, most costs should be able to be cut completely or reduced. Here are four costs that should be lowered:

  • Rent/Mortgage.

    If your business is currently renting, contact the landlord and discuss options you have. Ask if you can get out of your lease or sublease your space to another business. Rent is usually one of the largest costs and carrying it can get expensive.

    Depending on your timeline, consider selling your facility if you own it. This would cut your costs drastically because you will also be able to lower or cut most of the expenses associated with the facility such as security, insurance, and maintenance. If you cannot sell your facility, you may consider renting it out to any business. There are many seasonal businesses, such as political campaigns and short-term contractors, looking for temporary office space.

  • Utilities

    Again, depending on your timeline, having utilities shut off can save your business money. Remember that if you are renting, property owners may require you to have essential utilities kept on for safety and maintenance. If your office is in a cold environment, having no heat may cause pipes to burst.

  • Subscriptions.

    Comb through your subscriptions and see which can be canceled or suspended. Some newspapers and magazines make be able to give you credit and start the subscription after you reopen. Remember to consider other types of subscriptions such as online databases, IT services, and services related to software (scheduling and payments).

  • Insurance.

    Contact your insurance company and tell them how long you are planning to be closed. They may lower your premiums to reflect the changes. Figuring out what insurance you need to continue and what insurance you can go without can be discussed with your agent.

Schedule and Prepare Tasks

To avoid fees or fines, staying organized while your business is closed is important. If you are temporarily closing your business, you are still responsible for submitting the required reports to your local, state, and federal government. Contact your state and create a calendar of when certain reports are due.

Report your taxes even though you do not have any revenues or profits. If you do not submit anything, your state and the IRS will be expecting a payment. Late fees and penalties are applied and when you restart your business, you will be responsible for those.

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