In France, they record a historic decline in GDP of 13.8% between April and June 2020, according Les Echos, a French daily newspaper of economic and financial information. A dizzying figure that still struggles to express the difficulties that some companies are facing. Shops, restaurants, tourism players… For these sectors, the situation is even more trying as the pandemic follows a series of crises (yellow jackets being blocked, SNCF strikes) which had already strongly disrupted their activity. The result is a painful sense of injustice.
Indicators: vigilance and responsiveness
In this tense context, the ability to anticipate is decisive. The first signs of weakening must be carefully monitored. Any difficulty in paying salaries, suppliers or social and tax charges on time is a warning. “Deadlines are predictable,” says Franck Hegelé, General Delegate of 60,000 Rebonds, an association that supports post-liquidation contractors. “From then on, business managers must pay constant attention to their scorecards”.
In the absence of sufficient working capital, there is an urgent need for action. And the best way to do this is not to stay alone. But getting help is not self-evident: “The SME manager who finds himself facing difficulties is often so immersed in his work, maintaining an almost merging relationship with his company, that he won’t take the step of asking for help”, notes Franck Hégelé. As soon as the signals turn orange, it’s time to take a step aside and have the humility to approach one of the structures capable of providing valuable advice.
Institutions to prevent difficulties
One institution is particularly appropriate for answering questions from entrepreneurs: the commercial court. Due to a lack of knowledge, few entrepreneurs make use of it as a preventive measure. However, the 135 commercial courts in our country are administered by volunteer managers who are perfectly familiar with the reality of the business and the constraints associated with it. “You shouldn’t hesitate to seek their advice,” advises Franck Hégelé. “An experienced person will be able to indicate the best procedure to follow, or even, if necessary, warn the manager about the risks of going further.”
Another possibility is to get closer to a CIP (information centre for the prevention of business difficulties). Made up of former commercial court judges, chartered accountants and lawyers, these structures provide an opportunity to explain – again in complete confidentiality – one’s situation by presenting all the necessary documents. Conciliation, ad hoc mandate, declaration of cessation of payments… each of the legal solutions can be put on the table. This structure can also refer to other organisations and associations which, depending on the company’s activity, can carry out a more in-depth diagnosis, with strategic advice, in order to uncover possible areas for improvement: management, organisation, the role of digital technology, etc.
In the turmoil, specialised associations
Accustomed to supporting business leaders, Franck Hégelé also advises three general interest associations. SOS Entrepreneur thus helps SME managers to find solutions to turn things around and bounce back with their company. The Amarok Observatory brings together some fifteen researchers, whose work on the physical and mental health of self-employed professionals can prove invaluable. The APESA association supports business leaders who are suffering from acute pain and suicidal thoughts.
Knowing how to bounce back
Every year in France, there are about 50,000 business failures. For the manager, the trauma is professional, financial and personal at the same time. The association 60 000 Rebonds intervene after liquidation. “Entrepreneurs tend to think of their employees before themselves,” emphasises Franck Hégelé. “We help them get out of isolation.” To facilitate their rebound towards a new entrepreneurial or salaried project, a free 24-month scheme is set up. This provides for double individual coaching by a “certified professional coach” and a mentor (company director or executive), coupled with a collective approach, with monthly meetings and working groups with peers. In 95% of cases, the entrepreneur bounces back with a new professional project before the end of the scheme. Here again, the key remains the same: to be able, in turbulent times, to open up to others to create the conditions for a new dynamic.
Are you, or someone close to you, in one of the above situations? Do not hesitate to contact the associations and commercial courts. They are there to help you.
60 000 Rebonds and Multiburo stands by your side to help you through this difficult period.