By: Carla Perkins
We are living in unprecedented times. Many feel both direct and indirect pressures of the impact of the COVID-19 virus spread around the world. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or co-worker, we have all unfortunately been affected by this current state of affairs.
Being a small business owner during this time is also very interesting and challenging. It has required you to not only make critical decisions that will financially keep you afloat, but also seek out resources to assist in those efforts, as well as change the way that you do business altogether.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses employ 47.5% of the workforce in the United States. That equals to 58.9 million employees and approximately 30.2 million employers. To say that small businesses are impactful in the U.S. would be an understatement, small businesses are the foundation to our Nation’s economy and the vessel to the lifeline of creativity that keeps it alive.
Growing up in a family of small businesses owners, I always felt this impact directly, and appreciated their importance. Which is why I guess my career path working at local, state, and federal levels of government providing business resources, lead to me starting my own business dedicated to the growth and success of other small businesses. My business, Carla-Michelle, is devoted to providing business development support, resources, and solutions to small businesses.
When COVID-19 began to unfold, and government mandates were being announced that seemed to each day require more and more small businesses to temporarily close, I felt a sense of urgency, not only for my business, but for other small businesses. You see, I knew where and how to look for financial resources that would help to keep both my and my husband’s businesses functioning until things were back to normal however, I also knew that the majority of small businesses, to no fault of their own, do not. That’s why it has been my goal to provide as much as information, advice, and inspiration as possible to other small businesses as possible during this time.
Below is a list of resources, tips, and guidance that I compiled for small businesses that can help them to navigate the overwhelming information, applications, and time that will be spent in making sure they not only survive this time but come out on the other side even stronger than before. It will all be over one day however, it’s how you utilize the time now will determine your return to our new normal.
Contact your local government Economic Development Department. Every city around the country has an Economic Development Department. Their goal is to attract, retain and maintain businesses within their respective cities. More times than most they already have financial assistance and resources in place that will directly aid businesses within their boundaries. Some may include grants to businesses that do not have to be paid back or low-interest loans with payment terms that are feasible for small businesses. Programs have even been created recently just to aide businesses affected by COVID-19. Trust me these programs work, I had the benefit of working in Economic Development for a locality and managed various financial programs for businesses.
Research your state business agency programs. Each state has an agency devoted to business development and resources. These agencies may also have financial resources that can be awarded directly to businesses located within their boundaries. Additionally, with the passage of the CARES Act, funding has been allotted to states that will provide resources through their respective employment agencies, that will allow business owners to first obtain weekly unemployment benefits.
3. Federal resources. Congress recently passed the CARES Act that provides various
funding and resources to small businesses throughout the United States. These
sources are administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration and in some
instances overseen by banks and institutions that are designated small business
lenders. Please see the list of resources offered by the SBA.
Paycheck Protection Program-This loan program provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program.
EIDL Loan Advance- This loan advance will provide up to $10,000 of economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties.
SBA Express Bridge Loans- Enables small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly.
SBA Debt Relief- The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Private resources. Several corporations have stepped up to aide small businesses
during this time until they are back to being operational and self-sustaining. Most
financial support from private sources comes in the form of grants and are listed below.
Verizon Small Business Grant- This grant provides funding of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19. There are two rounds, as the first round just closed, however the next round will open mid-April. It's for entrepreneurs of color and women-owned businesses.
Business for All- This grant provides up to $50,000 to support business growth, including $10,000 emergency COVID-19 Business for All Grants to help small businesses in crisis. Just found this one. It's a $10k COVID-19 small business grant. Still reading up on it, will let you know what I find.
Learn More: https://businessforall.helloalice.com/
Shea Moisture Black Business Relief Fund- We Buy Black, in partnership with SheaMoisture will be providing up to $100,000 to black owned businesses affected by COVID-19. To enter, Entrants must complete this registration form by 11:59pm eastern time, April 10, 2020. Applications will be available online April 8, 2020.
Facebook- Is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to businesses.
Learn More: https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants
National Geographic COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists- This fund will award $1,000–8,000 USD for local coverage of the preparation, response, and impact of this global pandemic as seen through evidence-based reporting.
Carla Perkins is an accomplished professional with 20 years of combined experience in local, state, and federal levels of government, as well as private industry in several senior leadership roles. She is a resourceful “thought-leader” with solid acumen in project management, contract negotiation, management and compliance, legislative affairs, process improvement, and business development.