Many small businesses across the nation have been hit hard in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and are facing unprecedented economic disruption. While there is still much that remains to be seen regarding the current and long-term impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, one thing is certain: Communities are rallying around small and local businesses. There are a growing number of resources available to help small businesses maintain continuity of service for their customers during this uncertain time.
Financial Resources for Small Business Owners
On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law to support small businesses as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on the U.S. The act provides $376 billion in relief for American workers and small businesses. These funds were allocated to many different temporary programs:
Paycheck Protection Program
This program provides loans to small businesses with less than 500 employees to help them keep workers on payroll during the pandemic. The Small Business Association (SBA) will forgive loans under the condition that the business in question maintains the employment of all employees for eight weeks and that the loan is used for either payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Because of the high potential that all or a majority of the loan will be forgiven, this has become one of the more popular programs. You can learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program on the SBA’s website.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
This program provides small businesses that already have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender quick access to loans up to $25,000. This is particularly helpful for small businesses that are experiencing temporary difficulties due to COVID-19 and need cash quickly while they wait for other loans to process. You can learn more about this program on the SBA website.
If federal assistance is not a viable option for your business, there are many other resources that you can consider:
SBDCs and SCORE
Your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or SCORE office will both provide your small business with free assistance during this time. This could include services like loss prevention and disaster recovery roadmap planning. You can visit SCORE’s COVID-19 resource hub to get an up-to-date list of resources that aim to help small businesses get through challenges under these unprecedented circumstances.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a nonprofit organization that can help you assess your current situation and determine options for paying back any debt you may have. Some small businesses may be eligible for reduced credit card payments. You can check out the NFCC website for a free consultation.
Small Business Grants
Along with the above resources, small businesses can also consider applying for the many available grants aimed at small businesses:
- Google is providing small businesses worldwide with $340 million in ad credits that can be used toward future ad spending from now until the end of the year.
- GoFundMe partnered with Yelp, GoDaddy, Bill.com, and Intuit QuickBooks to provide small businesses that are negatively impacted by COVID-19 with micro-grants.
- Hello Alice partnered with Verizon to develop Business for All, which provides small businesses with $10,000 to $50,000 grants, free mentorship, and comprehensive resources.
- Salesforce has partnered with Ureeka and is offering small businesses with between 2 and 50 employees $10,000 grants to assist them through the pandemic.
These are a few of the many grant programs available to small businesses in need.
Employer Preparedness and Emergency Action Plan Checklist
Small businesses have a lot to consider during this time. Creating checklists can be a helpful way to ensure that you are addressing each potential issue. There are a few great small businesses checklists that you can use to make sure that you’re covering all of your bases:
- SMB checklist for business processes: This COVID-19 checklist was created by Perkins Cole, an international law firm. It covers a range of business topics, including employee communication, travel policies, remote work, legal obligations, and health conduct.
- SMB checklist for employees, customers and suppliers: Small business expert Barry Moltz created this COVID-19 checklist that covers a list of questions you should be asking related to your employees, your customers, and your suppliers.
- SMB checklist for healthcare guidance: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created this checklist that will help ensure that you’re following the best practices to keep your employee’s and customer’s health protected.
Alternative Ideas to Keep Your Elements of Business Operations Running
There are many ways that small businesses are taking fresh, innovative approaches to keep their businesses afloat in this new self-quarantined economy:
Online ordering and delivery
One way that businesses are staying open during this time is by enabling online ordering and delivery. If your small business is in the retail or restaurant industry, you may have already started to fulfill online shipments before the COVID-19 pandemic began. If you don't have the resources to deliver goods on your own, you can partner with a delivery service like Dropoff or Roadie to assist in providing this newfound demand for safely delivered goods.
During this time, technology has allowed many businesses across the world to continue operations during the pandemic. If your small business consults with clients or patients directly, you can consider providing these services remotely in an online setting instead of canceling your appointments altogether. This is a great way to allow your team to work remotely from home while continuing to safely interact with your clients.
Everyone’s first priority during this pandemic should be to remain safe and healthy for its duration but maintaining your business’s health and wellbeing is important as well. Take advantage of these resources so you can stay informed, maintain small business continuity, and lessen the impact of the crisis.