Below are 8 resources and suggestions that small business owners might find useful as they navigate the ebb and flow of running a business during a lockdown:
1. Small Business Loans
The Small Business Administration (SBA) are now providing targeted, low-interest loans (and some grants) to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by COVID-19.
2. Communicate Updates About Your Business or Nonprofit
Surprisingly, many small business owners have not added any language to their websites addressing any changes or updates regarding the pandemic and how it relates to their practice or business. Are you open or closed? It may seem obvious but it’s worth noting on your website. Also, several online tools are helping address changes by trying to make it easier for you to share updates. Google Business added a few tools so that you can provide a link to your website’s pandemic updates, post an update or mark your business as temporarily closed. You can also adjust your hours temporarily on your Google Business listing.
There are SBDC’s all over the United States and they offer tons of tips and suggestions. Through this pandemic, most have created special pages on their websites, like Northern California’s SBDC that includes webinars, advice and resources. You generally don’t have to sign up, be a member at all - SBDC’s are free resources run by the Small Biz Administration.
4. Chamber of Commerce Financial Assistance and Advice
Similar to the SBDC, there are Chambers of Commerce all over the U.S. These groups are membership supported but they do offer lots of free advice online. Find your regional Chamber and what they offer at the Chamber Foundation website.
5. Small Business Grants
New grants are appearing daily right now to help small businesses. Maybe spend some time applying for a few if your business is underwater:
- Facebook’s Small Business Grants Program - If you have 2-50 employees
- Some Grants Are State Specific - Here’s a list one website put together
- Yelp Freebies - Yelp is offering free ads and page upgrades
- 2020 Small Biz Grants - Another good list of grants on Bench.co
- Last, many grants are city, county or state specific, so a simple google search for your area might be worth doing too. Others are industry specific, so look for an association for your industry where you might find more ideas.
6. On-Site Safety Suggestions
If your business is opening soon, there are some steps you should take to keep yourself, your employees and your clients safe. The CDC’s workplace outbreak guidance provides advice to help your business mitigate transmission at your organization.
7. Get Creative
This might be a great time to reinvent your business or practice. One small restaurant in Benicia California started selling it’s own stock of food supplies when grocery shelves started going empty. And distilleries everywhere are changing their manufacturing from alcohol to hand sanitizer. Maybe set up a zoom call with fellow business owners and bounce ideas of each other or find out how you can help others stay afloat.
8. Learn Something New
Sharpening your teleconferencing skills an learning about Zoom green screens is something we’re all doing but you might want to take it a step further and consider online classes or certifications that you’ve put off because you didn’t have the time. If a course you’ve wanted to take previously wasn’t available online before, check again. You might be surprised how quickly some curriculum providers have adjusted to tele-sessions. CNBC provided this list of free online college courses you can take now and Linkedin provides a free month of online learning for professionals. Other big online learning websites include Udemy, Allison and Coursera.
Whatever floats your boat - this marketing consultant wishes smooth sailing for us all.
Stay safe everyone and please keep washing those hands!