With an increase in hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses are in need of help now more than ever. Below, we have gathered a list of resources to explore to help aid the adversity caused by COVID-19. We are adding resources as we become aware of them.
Take advantage of small business resources.
There are nearly 1,000 small business development centers (SBDCs) across the country that provide customized and confidential small business advice at no direct cost to your business. In addition to the SBA’s local offices, look for community groups of small business owners in your area on Facebook, Nextdoor, and through your city. If your business falls into a specific category such as minority-owned, woman-owned, manufacturers, or restaurant owners, look for communities specific to the work you do. Be vocal and ask questions. Our communities will be our biggest champions in times like these.
Communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations and your ability to provide services. Your customer base is a captive audience during this time, so don’t worry about over-communicating. Be transparent and let them know there may be questions they have that you don’t have the answers for or delays in the supply chain. Set expectations to avoid frustrations later. Even if you are closed for business temporarily, be there for others. Connect with people on the phone, by mail, and online.
Prioritize the health and wellness of your employees and customers.
Implement safety measures and precautions to protect your people. Encourage staff to be vocal if they have any symptoms or if they have come in contact with someone infected with the virus.
Make a financial plan.
Speak to who you need to pay in the next three months (suppliers, occupancy costs, utilities, etc), and find out what options you have to spread out the costs. Look at ways you can cut costs. What costs are necessary, what can be put on hold? Also, if you have debt, look into refinancing. The SBA 504 loan can be used to refinance commercial real estate debt and allows for cash out plus the ability to save thousands on your monthly occupancy costs with the current low rates, fixed for 25 years.
Expand your Brand.
Many businesses have shifted their business model to accommodate current needs. Is there a new product or service you can offer your customers that would help them during the pandemic.
Stay active and responsive online.
Stay active on your social media channels, keep your website updated, and be responsive. Respond quickly to messages you receive. Show you care by conveying concern and compassion.
Be appreciative and supportive.
Thank your staff and customers regularly. Now is the time for all of us around the world to symbolically come together to help people who are struggling.
Take care of yourself and stay calm. Although you are probably stressed and overwhelmed, take time for yourself and your mental health in a way that works for you. Remind yourself that this will pass and you’ll be stronger because of it.
Help the cause.
Find ways to give back. Think of the pandemic like a war effort, and we’re all in it together — because we are.