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If your head is still spinning from all the changes in 2020, relax you are not alone! Everyone is scrambling trying to figure out how to survive this tornado. As the whole world is suffering through this global pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus small businesses are taking on their biggest challenges. I feel like I have been in non-stop webinars and calls with legislatures, business organizations, banks, and government resources for weeks now.
I want to share some resources to help your business not just survive, but come out of this economic downturn thriving.
Protecting you, your team, and your customers health
The CDC has outlined some protocols for protecting your employees and the public from transmission of airborne illness such as COVID 19. Some general tips:
- Keep employees as separate as possible as physical proximity allows for a higher rate or airborne transmission
- Any employee that thinks they may have been exposed to someone who is ill or is showing symptoms themselves MUST isolate at home for 14 days
- Telework is highly valuable to keep employees working without leaving their homes
- Anyone or thing (ex: mail, shipments, visitors, customers, etc…) should be treated as a biohazard and everything they comes in contact with should be sterilized before anyone touches it
- PPE should be used for employees when coming in contact with any outside variables such as listed above and changed before coming in contact with something else
- Training for employees on thorough hand wash procedure and cleaning (even if it means singing random songs at the sink)
If your business is deemed nonessential
As the virus spreads more and more areas are closing businesses that are deemed non-essential. This is a gray area and many businesses will be tempted to remain open (understandably) and argue some gray area of the essential definition. Often businesses that defy the orders receive so much negative PR from their choice to do so that the long term damage to the business was not worth it. Remember your brand through this. If you are not coming in contact with anything outside or other people it may seem ridiculous and a government overreach. I don’t disagree with you, but I don’t make the rules. If you are closed you have options for your employees such as grants, loans, temporary furloughs for your employees so they may collect unemployment etc… While the definition of “essential differs from region to region some general guidelines have been plublished.
If you are deemed essential
If you are essential please do everything possible to protect your team and the public. Through this time business may still slow and you will have to face cash flow challenges. See below. Don’t be afraid to let the public know how you are trying to help us get through this. You will be surprised by the support that you will receive. Additionally, have candid conversations with you team about their feelings and what will make them comfortable working through this. While everyone wants to be able to keep working everyone also is concerned about the risks. Listen to their feedback and respond in the best way you can. If you were in their shoes what would you feel? Remember you are here to lead them.
Cash flow challenges
There are dozens of loan and grant options available now and more if you are in an area that has been declared a disaster area (most states). If used correctly you can position your business to come out of this with a decrease in debt and working capital for a strategic jump back into the market. Some of the benefits available now:
- Very low interest rate loans that are backed by the SBA to consolidate debt and pay for overhead with no penalty for early payoff
- Up to a $10,000 grant that doesn’t have to be paid back for small businesses in disaster areas for payroll and operating expenses.
- Loan forgiveness for payroll and other operating expenses for 8 weeks
- 6-12 month extension on loan payments for small businesses
Additionally, there are many expenses that can be postponed until you are back up and operating again. Call me for some pointers on where to make cuts.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has summarized funding opportunities that are available to small businesses through this pandemic. Be aware, the website is not comprehensive and many of the loans exempt you from other opportunities so use caution. Also it is a government run site so contacting someone knowledgeable is hit or miss. Do not go for a loan or program solely based on information found online as the three bills that were passed are all still finalizing details and they also conflict with one another. It is best to speak to someone that is a small business advocate to help you get the best option for your business. Additionally, that person is not your banker. Bankers are still trying to keep up with all the changes and they profit from your debt so be cautious. Be very cautious about loan terminology and titles to ensure you don’t fall into the wrong loan.
If you are not already a member of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) you should be. They are the primary voice for small business in D.C. and provide a great deal of resources for small businesses. With the COVID19 Pandemic they have summarized all the legislative changes and how they will affect small businesses so you are not left reading thousands of pages of legal jargon to determine if you are operating within the law.
Times like this there is an overwhelming amount of stress and emotional processing that leaders are forced to do. In the words of Gandalf, “this too shall pass.” I would like to take this moment to validate YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO FEEL THE WAY YOU DO. Know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Give yourself some grace and be kind to yourself. This is not your fault nor is it all under your control.
We all loathe scammers, but in times like this they consider it game time. If anyone approaches you for money or for funding ALWAYS research them personally and the company thoroughly. It takes very little information to completely ruin your finances. Norton has some advise to avoid phishing scams.
I have so much more I want to share but this should get you started and if you have any questions please schedule a call so we can figure out how to get you through this. Chin up, we can do this. #weareallinthistogether #COVID19 #helpeachother #weareheareforyou