Small businesses across the globe are suffering the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus has already made significant impacts on the economy, with unemployment rates skyrocketing and small businesses closing temporarily or sometimes for good. When you’re still trying to run your small business, there are steps you can take to help you stay afloat and keep moving forward during this unprecedented and uncertain time.
These strategies and resources will help you update operations and find relief that may be available to you.
Take advantage of financial resources
It’s no secret that small businesses are losing money while establishments of all sizes and in all industries are forced to close for the foreseeable future. If your work can’t be conducted virtually, take advantage of government benefits being offered as a relief.
One option is a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which was funded by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act in March 2020.
The SBA is providing small businesses that are suffering substantial economic loss because of COVID-19 low-interest federal disaster loans. Nonprofits receive an interest rate of 2.75% and other small businesses, 3.75%, and long-term repayment plans can reach up to 30 years.
These loans are meant for small businesses that do not have other means of credit.
Please note that the SBA is no longer accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). However, there is still funding available for SBA Debt Relief and the SBA Bridge Loan. Be sure to visit the SBA website regularly for updates.
Another option for immediate financial assistance is to create a crowdfunding page, like on the platforms GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or Kiva. These websites allow you to create a detailed profile, share your business’s story, and share your campaign on social media to connect with supporters instantly.
Evaluate your options
If it’s possible for your small business, try to keep operations running remotely. Incorporate collaboration and communication tools that will keep your teams connected, including video and instant chat tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Skype for Business.
Even if the work you can perform remotely is limited, it’s better than shutting down the business completely. Meet with your team remotely to share ideas and brainstorm and consult with your third-party resources like your attorney and insurance provider.
Follow all official recommendations
Unless your business is considered an essential service, make sure you’re following all local and federal orders. Meetings should be held via telecommuting when possible, employees shouldn’t be coming into work, and you should encourage your workers to stay home.
If your business does need to continue to operate in the workplace, make sure that you implement cleaning and social distancing measures. Disinfect all surfaces that people touch, including doorknobs, tabletops, and light switches. Leave hand sanitizer dispensers and wipes around the area for employees and guests to use. Implement social distancing policies, including following the six-feet-apart rule for customers and employees.
Stay in communication
Your team members will depend on you to provide guidance during the pandemic. Stay in regular communication with your employees, letting them know best practices and sending resources should they have questions or concerns.
Send out a newsletter or a regular email that shares updates and lets your employees know that you’re taking COVID-19 seriously and are keeping their best interests in mind.
Also be sure you have a strategy in place for communicating regularly with your customers. Keep them updated on any changes to operations and what your business is doing to address their concerns.
Coronavirus resources for small businesses
The following is a list of resources for both you and your employees when you have questions or are struggling to keep moving your business forward:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 webpage with detailed health information and resources
- The Small Business Association’s list of small business guidance and loan resources
- The Coronavirus Small Business Survival Guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- The CDC’s COVID-19 fact page, updated regularly
- Business and Employee Resources from the CDC
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide
These resources offer the latest updates from government bodies and officials, financial resources, tips for small businesses and workers, health information, including symptoms of the coronavirus, and how to maintain well-being during stay-at-home orders.