While governments at all levels begin to outline what an economic recovery will look like, it is clear that the COVID-19 crisis has, and will continue to affect businesses for the foreseeable future. Many business owners have had to make tough decisions in order to keep their business afloat, and these decisions will have lasting impacts. We suggest that all business owners should take the time to reflect on the last few months, and start a COVID-19 journal.

When you sell a business, any potential buyers will look to recent financial performance as a key focus of their due diligence. As M&A activity begins to pick up once the crisis has subsided, potential buyers will want to know how your business handled the COVID-19 outbreak, and how the decisions that you have made as a business owner affected the success of the business.

Keeping a COVID-19 journal means tracking and documenting key events, management decisions and business performance data, in real time, during this crisis. Key events and decisions are those that will have a substantial impact on current or future business performance or risk. Decisions should be well documented, including timing, rationale and expected results.

Some examples of key events and decisions:


  • draw-down on the credit line
  • renegotiated bank covenants or asset-base
  • cancelled all company credit cards
  • sold surplus assets to generate cash
  • other key cash preservation actions taken
  • government subsidies received and how accounted for


  • change in key customer payment terms or collections
  • major order cancellations
  • downstream verticals shut down and aided by crisis
  • customer loss or gain due to or during the crisis
  • impact on orders, sales and accounts receivable

Marketing & Sales

  • implementation of new remote/online sales strategies
  • implementation of new marketing initiatives
  • RFP inquiries and quoting activity


  • renegotiated payment terms
  • changed payment practices
  • notified that critical components unavailable
  • major order cancellations
  • major supply chain interruptions and changes
  • renegotiated lease or mortgage payments
  • impact on accounts payable


  • salary reductions, job-sharing, furloughs and layoffs (and severance paid)
  • major staff redeployments
  • organizational restructuring
  • new hires/rehires – impact on payroll

Products & Services

  • diversified (new product line or service) to generate sales
  • decision to stop replenishing certain inventory (to preserve cash)
  • major resource shifts
  • suspension of a product development initiative


  • shifts in target markets, products, services or customers
  • major re-positioning or change in business model
  • permanent operational changes made
  • a new strategic alliance
  • acquisition of a distressed competitor

Start your journal today, and cover as many historical events as you can. It is also wise to begin taking minutes of regular strategic planning meetings so that you can reference these later when writing in your journal.

Potential buyers are likely to look back on the events that have unfolded this year, and will want to know how your business handled a major crisis. By keeping a COVID-19 journal, you will be able to look back on the decisions that you made and use them to help create a positive narrative in the sale process.

Read more about exit planning here.