In a typical year, small businesses can generally count on steady foot traffic and busy summers. But this is no typical year. The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses across the country to shut their doors and adapt to new protocols, leaving many small businesses in this region feeling the squeeze right when things should be picking up. With the threat of COVID-19 expected to last into the coming months, small businesses should begin to prepare for an uncertain summer.
File for Coronavirus Relief
As the outbreak continues into a new season, financial support for small businesses remains available. At the federal level, the Small Business Administration (SBA) continues to administer the Paycheck Protection Program, which allows small businesses to obtain funds for payroll expenses. Small businesses can apply by submitting a Paycheck Protection Program application to an approved SBA lender. For other financial needs, small businesses can apply for relief under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The disaster loan program offers small businesses up to $2 million in assistance with interest rates capped at 3.75 percent.
Many state and local governments are also offering financial support. For instance, Idaho has allocated more than $26 million for its “Idaho Rebound” program, which provides cash grants to small businesses. In Wisconsin, the Dane County government has launched the Dane County Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program to provide grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to small businesses in the Madison region.
To get started with these financial support resources, reach out to your local lender or community bank. Ask if they’re an SBA-approved lender who can facilitate a federal loan for your business. Then, check the websites of your state and local governments to determine if there are any options available at those levels.
During this period of isolation, don’t forget to keep in touch with your networks. Small businesses can plan ahead for their own operations and for the entire community. By connecting with your local Main Street organization, you can hear from other small business owners in a similar struggle and share ideas with each other for moving forward.
Branding may be more important now than ever before. With customers confined to their homes, it’s more difficult for individual businesses to remain top of mind. Main Street organizations can help small businesses create a unified brand for the entire community. By leveraging this brand, individual businesses can work together to reach customers with a cohesive, consistent message.
Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, it’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic has inspired widespread enthusiasm for small businesses and the buy-local movement. Customers want to keep their small businesses going, and they appreciate the efforts that restaurants, retailers and other businesses are making in order to adapt. Maintain this morale throughout the pandemic by spreading the buy-local message.
On social media, share your coronavirus stories and updates with Independent We Stand’s #SmallBizStrong. You can also download Small Biz Strong social media graphics to show your pride and your strength. Although you can’t see your customers in person right now, you can reinforce their enthusiasm by communicating regularly on social media, through email and on your website. That way, customers know when and how they can visit your business again throughout the summer months.
Need additional support? Independent We Stand has put together a database of COVID-19 Small Business Resources to help you navigate the path forward. As you plan for an uncertain summer, keep these resources and your local networks in mind.