uschamber.com - Oct, 2020
One way or another, coronavirus has likely impacted your business — for better or worse. We’ve been busy creating content to help you through this challenging time. It is organized here by category to help you easily navigate through it all.
If you're just getting started with reading our coverage, we suggest you start here first. These are our general articles on small business resources available during the coronavirus outbreak:
If you’re trying to get a better understanding of the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus legislation, you can read about that here:
If you’re looking for financial assistance and considering applying for a small business loan, we’ve got you covered. Here is all of our coronavirus small business loan content:
Now is also a challenging time for managing employees, keeping morale and productivity up and ensuring your company culture stays intact. Here is all of our content about managing your team through coronavirus:
Staying connected with customers is always challenging, but it’s more important now than ever. If you’re looking for creative ways to do that, check out our customer-focused marketing content:
Trying to run your business from home? With kids running around in circles? We get it. Here is some of our best advice on how to adjust to your new headquarters:
Looking for some inspiration? Here are some examples of how small businesses are adapting in the face of coronavirus:
How will coronavirus impact businesses in the long run? Here we ask experts to provide analysis on the ongoing outbreak and how businesses are adapting and will continue to adapt:
COVID-19 has brought the world’s economy to a grinding halt. The economic impact and recovery will last for months, and potentially even years. As congress and other government authorities move to save different areas of the economy, it’s important to understand what resources you have available to you as a small business owner.
Everyone’s first priority during this pandemic should be to stay safe and healthy — but maintaining your business’s health can be equally important. Take advantage of the following resources so you can stay informed and lessen the impact of the crisis.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce AssistanceThis section was updated with new information on 3/30/20:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put together a number of resources for small business.
Assistance from the SBAThis section was updated with new information on 3/31/20:
The SBA is offering a few key programs to help small businesses survive the coronavirus outbreak. They are:
The SBA has created a comprehensive Coronavirus page with all of its resources in one place. You can find that page here.
The SBA announced it would offer disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million for small businesses affected by the coronavirus. These low-interest loans are available to businesses that have sustained “substantial economic injury” due to the spread of the coronavirus. You can apply for one of those loans here.
The SBA is also backing what are called Payroll Protection Loans. These loans are convertible to grants and do not have to be paid back provided you use the money for a list of acceptable expenses, primarily payroll. These loans are available from private lenders. The treasury department has just release more information on these loans. You can learn more here and see the application here. You will still need to apply at your local bank. You can also learn more about these loans in this Emergency Small Business Loan Guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
[For a full breakdown of SBA loans and federal response read: Everything You Need to Know About Coronavirus Federal Small Business Stimulus Aid Programs]
In addition to disaster relief loans, the SBA has a comprehensive list of resources available to small businesses during the crisis. This includes COVID-19 fact sheets; strategies for employees to adhere to; common problems small businesses may face, like supply chain shortfalls; and local assistance information.
Export-Import Bank of the United StatesAdditionally, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) has announced relief measures for U.S. exporters and financial institutions that include waivers, deadline extensions, streamlined processing and flexibility for its customers for an initial period of 30 days, with the possibility of more, for the following programs:
For everything you need to know about applying for a small business loan, see the U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Loan Guide.
SCORESCORE is offering advice and assistance from its business mentors including help navigating financial challenges and assistance in applying for SBA disaster assistance loans. SCORE has centralized all of its assistance options here.
SBDCSmall Business Development Centers are local offices sponsored by the SBA to help small businesses. While the SBA has provided its own resources, SBDCs are also offering extensive help to small businesses throughout America.
This includes OSHA resources and information, like preparing workplaces for COVID-19, preventing worker exposure to COVID-19 and additional OSHA resources. You can also find links to the National Cyber Security Alliance for information on how to stay safe online during the pandemic and avoid typical scams associated with the disaster.
Making New Jersey More Inclusive: NJ Human Services Launches $1.4M Grant Program to Create Inclusive and Healthy Communities for Individuals with Disabilities
Department of Human Services, NJ - Oct, 2020
(TRENTON) – New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced that the Department’s Division of Disability Services is launching a $1.4 million grant program to help communities across the state promote inclusive approaches to supporting the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities where they live, work, learn and play.
Human Services’ Division of Disability Services (DDS) is accepting proposals for the new Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) Grant Program. Under the IHC Program, non-profits, and local county or municipal government agencies can apply for support to ensure that the voice and needs of people with disabilities are included in healthy community planning.
“This year, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, we celebrate all that has been accomplished and acknowledge the additional work needed to continue to create inclusive communities,” said Commissioner Johnson. “With this grant program, we hope to further advance the vision of the ADA by helping communities across New Jersey ensure that individuals with disabilities have a voice in and equitable access to support services, community resources, and safe and accessible places to enjoy their communities and thrive.”
The program aims to promote change at the local level by addressing pre-existing physical, environmental, social and economic challenges that prevent people with disabilities from having full access to the conditions that support health and well-being. The goal is to advance tangible and sustainable transformation of practices, systems, and environmental conditions to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in healthy community initiatives.
“From ensuring that neighborhoods have safe and accessible walking paths to mobility device charging stations for individuals who rely on power wheelchairs to get around, communities across the U.S. are adopting the inclusive and healthy communities model to improve access for individuals with disabilities. We look forward to the creative and innovative solutions New Jersey organizations propose,” said Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira.
Under the program, applicants can submit proposals for capacity building grants of up to $100,000 or implementation grants of up to $250,000.
Capacity building grants are available for applicants in the early stages of efforts to build disability inclusion into any existing healthy community planning efforts to identify priorities, build formal, collaborative partnerships and plan strategies that will result in lasting change.
Implementation grants are available for applicants who have already identified priorities, built partnerships and developed an action plan to address the challenges. Examples could include adaptive playground equipment, accessible trails/paved paths, wheelchair battery charging stations in community settings, color-schemed signage, community gardens with raised beds, curb cuts, voice-automated pedestrian signals, and many other possibilities that support inclusive principles.
“People with disabilities are disproportionately affected with chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. Through this program, we want to help communities improve the local environments and systems that can support individuals with disabilities stay active and access community resources so they can have better health outcomes,” DDS Executive Director Peri L. Nearon said.
DDS has partnered with the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to offer technical assistance and support to the IHC Grant Program. Interested applicants can learn more about the program and submit a proposal by visiting http://eac.rutgers.edu/ihc-grant-program/.
Bidders must submit a letter of intent to apply by October 26. Applications must be submitted by November 20.
covid19.nj.gov - 09/02/2020
Yes, attending a gathering, ceremony, or celebration is permitted as long as the event complies with the following limits on gatherings.
Gatherings are allowed, but different limits apply depending on the type of gathering, and where it is happening:
Face coverings are required in indoor public spaces and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
For more information on rules for indoor gatherings, refer to paragraphs 4-6 on pages 9 and 10 of Executive Order No. 183 and paragraph 1 on page 6 of Executive Order No. 152.
For more information on rules for outdoor gatherings, refer to paragraph 1 on page 5 of Executive Order No. 161 and paragraph 2 on pages 7-9 of Executive Order No. 152.
Safety Tips For Gatherings
During this difficult time, we understand everyone wants to spend time with family and friends. To ensure we don't inadvertently spread COVID-19 and needlessly put our loved ones at risk, the NJ Department of Health has offered some safety tips that can help reduce the risk of transmission when we gather in-person.
By Tom Bergeron, Roi-nj.com - September 28, 2020
Finding ways to create a more equitable and inclusive business climate in urban areas has been a goal of activists all summer. Finding the funding is more challenging.
On Monday in Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka announced the city and partners have been promised $2 million to create the “NWK FAM Fund” — a program aimed at putting capital in the hands of Black and Latinx business owners.
The new investment vehicle — short for “Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund” — aims to combat and reduce social and economic inequalities resulting from systemic racism.
The program, backed by prominent Black and Latinx investors, as well as leading corporate and philanthropic institutions, hopes to raise $100 million in investible capital, including $10 million by the end of the year.
“Black Lives Matter is not rhetoric, it’s a statement of action,” Baraka said. “It’s more than just eliminating racist behavior and inequality in our justice system; it’s about creating equality and opportunity for our black and brown communities.”
The NWK FAM Fund will be co-managed by Invest Newark (the city’s economic development corporation) and New Jersey Community Capital.
Officials said AT&T, Shaquille O’Neal, Panasonic, Carlos Medina, Nelson Mullins law firm, New Jersey Community Capital, Public Service Enterprise Group and Popular Bank are the first of the investors and corporate partners.
The fund also has an advisory board that consists of prominent financial, corporate and philanthropic leaders who share the fund’s vision of curing systemic racism with a systemic response. The initial board members include:
Baraka said the need for the fund is simple — and more pressing than ever.
“There are vast wealth disparities in our nation, state and city between white-owned businesses and Black and Latinx-owned businesses, clearly worsened by the pandemic,” he said. “We need to empower our entrepreneurs of color so that they can compete at increasingly higher levels. The Newark 40 Acres and a Mule Fund will bring pride and prosperity to our city as a whole and to our Black and Latinx business community in particular.”
According to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, the median net worth of New Jersey’s white families is $309,000, while the median for New Jersey’s Latinx and Black families is just $7,020 and $5,900, respectively. It is one of the worse racial wealth gaps in the nation.
Organizers said the objective of the fund is to close these gaps by providing Black and Latinx business owners with a more level playing field with their competitors.
Hall, the CEO of Invest Newark, said the model is the first of its kind in the country.
“We believe that we have created a national model where financial institutions, corporation donors and local economic development corporations partner to create a holistic investment platform that provides Black and Latinx businesses with access to the business contracts, patient capital and technical assistance necessary to grow despite the current pandemic and social unrest,” he said.
Officials said the initiative will drive economic wealth among Black and Latinx populations in Newark by leveraging invested capital, public subsidies and public assets to enhance the value of Black and Latinx-focused small businesses and real estate development.
Baraka said the city is superbly equipped to continue its immense economic progress.
The city is home to an international airport and seaport, a transcontinental train station, five major highways, headquarters to major corporations, the seventh-busiest indoor arena in the United States and more than 55,000 students and teachers attending high-level institutions.
New Jersey Community Capital President Wayne Meyer said Newark has had more than $5.6 billion in public and private investment and record levels of local job creation (pre-COVID-19) since 2014. He feels the fund can bring so much more.
“Despite over a century of broken promises, Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs have thrived and been the economic engines of their communities,” he said. “It is a privilege for New Jersey Community Capital to help Mayor Baraka and his team provide capital to Newarkers looking to carry on this rich tradition.
“We are honored to be thought of as a trusted partner in the Newark FAM Fund and look forward to doing all we can to grow and sustain Newark’s Black and Latinx business community.”
The name of the fund comes from one of the earliest Reconstruction promises to the newly freed slaves of 1865 — one that provided each freshly emancipated family head with “40 acres and a mule” in America’s mostly undeveloped and unowned land at the time.
Under this initiative, “freedmen” and their families would be able to become small, independent farmers. However, the program was never pushed forward, and most of the freedmen rapidly reverted into a new form of semi-slavery as tenant “sharecroppers,” living in poverty and perpetually in debt to their white landlords.
By Karin Price Mueller | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
New Jersey was approved late Friday for an expanded $300 unemployment benefit created by President Donald Trump after Congress couldn’t agree on a new stimulus plan.
But that doesn’t mean the payments will reach unemployed residents any time soon.
It took Gov. Phil Murphy several weeks to decide to apply for the benefit, which was announced on Aug. 7. The state didn’t apply until Aug. 26, in part because of confusion over how the program would be implemented.
Because the funding comes from FEMA, federal rules don’t allow the state to use existing unemployment systems or employees to distribute the funds. That means it will take time before the state can process the payments.
Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said the payments probably won’t be distributed until October, and it will probably come as a lump sum rather than as a weekly payment.
“I know that’s not what someone wants to hear who wants their money now,” he said.
After its initial submission to the program, the Labor Department had to send FEMA some additional information, but the back-and-forth wouldn’t delay the approval process or the timeline, Labor Department spokeswoman Angela Delli-Santi said.
The $300 benefit is meant as a partial replacement for the expanded $600 weekly payment from the CARES Act coronavirus relief package, which expired at the end of July.
The Labor Department previously said not everyone will qualify for the benefit. Those receiving weekly benefits of less than $100 and those whose unemployment does not relate to COVID-19 won’t be eligible.
The state will first get three weeks of benefits for the weeks of Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. It will have to apply weekly for more funding after that.
The program will continue until the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which funds the program and had a balance of $44 billion last week, runs out or until Congress passes a new unemployment extension.
Benefits are be retroactive to the week of Aug. 1.
A total of 1.54 million New Jerseyans have applied for unemployment benefits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, 1.35 million have qualified for benefits.
The state has paid out $14.7 billion since the middle of March, the Labor Department said.
NJ Human Services Unveils $25 Million Plan to Support Access to Mental Health & Addiction Services During the Pandemic
Initiative Calls for Reimbursing Safety Net Providers for COVID-19-Related Expenses to Help Them Remain Open and Accessible
(TRENTON) – Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced that the Department will use federal Coronavirus Relief Fund resources to provide up to $25 million to help mental health and substance use disorder providers remain open and accessible by reimbursing for the added costs they are incurring due to COVID-19. Eligible entities include the more than 250 providers who participate in Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services network that provide prevention, treatment and recovery supports to the uninsured and underinsured.
To provide services to New Jerseyans with mental health and substance use disorders, providers face new costs associated with complying with social distancing requirements, ensuring technology is available to facilitate access to services through telehealth, as well as additional costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), staffing and COVID testing needs. Residential treatment settings, outpatient and recovery clinics, opioid treatment programs, and other behavioral health providers are all facing these new, significant and unplanned expenses.
“Mental health and addiction services for some of the most vulnerable New Jerseyans are always a critical priority, but represent an acute need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our safety net providers have worked hard to support individuals throughout this crisis but face increased costs to stay open and accessible as they work to comply with public health and safety guidelines,” Commissioner Johnson said. “Today, we are committing to help them manage these unexpected costs so that they can deliver critical services to those in need.”
Under the plan, eligible mental health and substance use disorder providers will be reimbursed for pandemic-related expenses dating from the Governor’s March 9th declaration of a public health emergency through December 20th. Allowable costs must be new expenses resulting from COVID-19 and must not have been previously budgeted.
Qualifying COVID-related expenditures include:
This new initiative builds on steps Human Services has taken throughout the pandemic to support mental health and addition services, including:
Brett Farmiloe , Score.com — August, 2020
BELOW, 10 THOUGHT LEADERS TALK ABOUT THE BENEFITS THEY SEE AT THEIR COMPANIES AS A RESULT OF DIVERSITY WITHIN THE WORKPLACE.
Co-creation as the foundation of innovation is the ultimate ‘killer app’ in any company. Co-creation means collaborating and bringing different experiences, thoughts, and ideas to the table, each one valid for brainstorming to be effective. Diversity is the secret ingredient that enables co-creation to exist. It is embracing differences that fuel disruptive thinking, a different view of customer experience, a business process, and a new business venture.
-Kate King, Beni.fit
THE ABILITY TO ADAPT
You can’t build an evolving organization without a diverse collection of people who can adapt to the changes in the workplace. That’s the benefit I find from diversity: the ability to adapt. Individuals can change when they want to and having diverse workgroups helps influence and accelerate positive change.
-Ryan Nouis, Executive Staffing Agency
RECRUITING IS MADE EASIER
When a candidate steps into the office and looks around, they take note of the people working there. They naturally ask themselves a series of questions like “Do I see myself fitting in here?” The question becomes a lot easier to answer if there’s someone already at a desk that mirrors a candidate in some way. That could be gender, race, age or another attribute that helps ease those candidate concerns of “Will I be safe here? Can I be myself at work? Will I be able to connect with my coworkers?” A diverse set of employees helps attract the right candidates, and recruiting becomes just a little easier.
-Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
We are big believers in diversity. In October, we just celebrated our fifth annual Diversity & Inclusion career event and have an ongoing list of ideas to promote inclusion and workplace diversity. As the founder of the most respected workplace award program in the Southwest, we have seen that the biggest benefit of diversity is employee retention. You can sense it in surveys and you can see it in statistics. Plain and simple: the best companies prioritize diversity because they recognize employee retention positively impacts their bottom line.
-Denise Gredler, Best Companies Arizona
A TEAM CHARACTERIZED BY A COMPLEX SKILL SET
A diverse workgroup is more likely to be characterized by a complex skill set because people with different backgrounds bring along different experiences and lessons. Diversity in the workplace is essentially the glue that brings all the pieces together and makes magic happen.
When it comes to age, we found that all generational groups bring something valuable to the table also, making them irreplaceable. Specifically, Gen Z is the one who can understand programming the best, while Millennials have idea-generation abilities and are more creative. On the other hand, Gen X has greater complex problem-solving abilities while Baby Boomers are emotionally intelligent.
The fact that each demographic group is characterized by unique skills is proof that diversity is an asset that makes a team complete and organizations cannot afford to neglect it.
–Stavros Triseliostis, CareerAddict
IMPROVES COMPANY REPUTATION
Our experience is that working diligently to hire diverse employees from different backgrounds and walks of life, not only promotes productivity and creativity but also sets the standard for what kind of company you are. Actively seeking diverse employees can improve your company’s reputation and let people know that if they are searching for an accepting and diverse employer, you are it! People will begin to start seeking you out.
-John Yardley, Threads
THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
As a husband and wife team, we have over 35 years of combined experience and 15 years of experience working together. We met in the courtroom when I was a defense attorney and Michelle was a prosecutor. Our collective diversity not only gives us perspective in terms of being male and female but it really brings a different level of emotional connection, empathy, and compassion for our clients.
My wife, Michelle, is an expert negotiator. I love taking cases to trial. Together, we have been able to successfully resolve thousands of cases and believe that we are going to get clients the best outcome possible because of our partnership.
-Court Will, Seattle Personal Injury Attorney
EXIT THE ECHO CHAMBER
Diversity makes it harder to enter a self-reinforcing echo chamber. A wide spectrum of opinions gives us more data points to triangulate the best course of action.
-Lukas Ruebbelke, BrieBug
MIRROR THE POPULATION YOU’RE SERVING
Recruiting for diversity has been, and remains, the number one source of my success in leading teams and delivering business results. The variety of ideas, the learning that comes from incorporating ideas and the ability to mirror the population you’re trying to serve are key. Diversity comes in all forms: background, ethnicity, religion, gender, generation and lifestyle. It’s hard, it’s fascinating and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for my personal leadership growth. Even for the development of my kids, as many team meetings were at my home.
-Tracy L. Bullock, Sandler Training
AIDS IN UNDERSTANDING POTENTIAL CLIENTS
We have employees from a variety of different backgrounds and life experiences. While it makes us stronger as a company in general, it also makes us more appealing to potential clients. We have people who better understand certain communities and how to market to them. When they’re in charge of acquisitions for those communities, we see a much higher rate of conversion.
–Dan Bailey, WikiLawn
GOVERNOR MURPHY AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OLIVER ANNOUNCE EMERGENCY GRANT FUNDING PROGRAM TO ASSIST SMALL LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
Office of Governor, Phil Murphy — May, 2020
$25 Million in CARES Act Funding to be Allocated to Reimburse Small Landlords Whose Tenants Missed Rent Payments between April and July 2020
TRENTON – As part of the Administration’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Phil Murphy and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver today announced the creation of the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program. The program, administered by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, will provide emergency grant funding to small property owners for COVID-19 related decreases in rent revenue for a four-month period between April and July 2020.
Funded through the CARES Act, grant amounts will be generated based on the total amount of missed rental payments and the number of COVID-impacted rental units that serve low- and moderate-income tenants. Landlords who receive assistance will be required to pass along benefits to their tenants by forgiving back rent and late fees accumulated by COVID-19 impacted units.
“To emerge stronger from this crisis, we need to make direct investments in our hardest hit neighborhoods and communities,” said Governor Murphy. “Ensuring that responsible landlords can continue to maintain their properties and provide quality housing to our tenants is essential to our recovery. Through this program, we can also provide direct support to COVID-impacted renters by forgiving back-rent.”
“We know that many of New Jersey’s landlords are not companies or corporations. Rather, they are families and individuals. And like the families they rent to, they are struggling because they are often locked out of access to capital and federal resources,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves at Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and Chair of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA) Board. “The number one priority of this program is to offer much-needed relief to small landlords, who will in turn pass along the benefits to their tenants who are also fighting to stay afloat in the midst of this ongoing public health and economic crisis.”
“No family should be without a home, especially in a national pandemic. Approximately 30% of all New Jersey renters and 27% of low- and moderate-income renters live in 3-10 unit buildings. We have designed this grant program to ensure that our most vulnerable renters and landlords get the help that they need,” said Charles A. Richman, Executive Director of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. “At NJHMFA, our mission to ensure safe and equitable housing for every resident of New Jersey has never been more critical than during this crisis. These dollars will have the increased impact of securing financial sustainability for New Jersey’s families. HMFA is enormously proud to provide this assistance to landlords and tenants and thankful for Governor Murphy and Lt. Governor Oliver’s championing of this program.”
“No one should lose the roof over their head or their business because we failed to act during this crisis,” said Congressman Andy Kim. “I voted to pass the CARES Act because we needed bold action to help get our communities through this pandemic, and I’m proud to see programs like this being set up that will help our neighbors stay on their feet during these tough times.”
“This funding from the CARES Act will ensure that small landlords are able to maintain their livelihoods and support their families, and that tenants do not lose their homes during a pandemic,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski. “I will continue to fight in Congress to bring federal resources home to help struggling New Jerseyans get through this crisis.”
One-third of program funds will be reserved for applicants who are registered in DCA’s RIMS database as individual or family owners. Qualified applicants must meet the following specifications:
Applications must be submitted between August 19th at 9:00 a.m. and August 26th at 1:00 p.m. to be considered.
Grant funding will be allocated on a case by case basis, based on the number of COVID-impacted units, and the amount of missed rent. Applicants must be the Primary Property Owner of a residential rental property in New Jersey and be registered with DCA’s Bureau of Housing Inspection as of July 17, 2020. Applicants can check here to see if their property is registered.
For more information on the Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program, visit www.njhousing.gov/rentals/sleg
Nicole Fallon, Uschamber.com — July, 2020
Before the world even knew about coronavirus, financial experts predicted the next economic downturn would be coming in 2020. Now, several months into a global pandemic, those experts say the “COVID-19 Recession” is officially here, and it’s expected to be the worst one since World War II.
Most businesses felt the immediate financial impact when states issued stay-at-home orders and shut down many non-essential businesses. Despite nationwide phased reopenings, many entrepreneurs are preparing for – and worried about – the long-term effects of lost revenue and foot traffic due to public health concerns and mass unemployment.
While the post-COVID recession is poised to hit businesses hard, there are ways to make it through periods of widespread economic hardship. Below, experienced entrepreneurs share their best advice for creating a recession-proof business plan and adapting your business model to the current climate.
The pandemic has given small businesses a crash course in adaptability. Businesses that weren’t operating online or remotely suddenly found themselves making huge changes to their business model on the fly. This willingness to pivot quickly and be flexible with your previous plans is the key to surviving the current recession.
“You can’t be married to any specific strategy, product or service,” said Abhi Lokesh, CEO and co-founder of Fracture. “You’ve got to be willing to try everything you can, see what works and pivot accordingly.”
Lokesh, who launched Fracture at the height of the Great Recession in 2009, acknowledges that change can be uncomfortable and difficult, but entrepreneurs can’t let pride, stubbornness or tradition get in the way of survival.
“It’s a matter of being incredibly detail-oriented and leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of being as financially stable as possible,” he told CO —.
LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS’ CURRENT NEEDS
Understanding and serving your customers’ needs is important at any time, but it’s especially important to empathize with their current struggles and changing purchasing behaviors right now.
Eli Diament, founder and director of Azurite Consulting, emphasized the importance of using primary research to better understand these changes. By collecting insights from consumers and suppliers in the form of focus groups, surveys and one-on-one interviews, your business will be better able to adapt to rapidly-changing needs and behaviors.
“If done effectively, primary research will allow you to tap into the decision makers and users you want and need to hear from,” Diament added. “A well-designed and precisely targeted survey can collect these insights, far better than any panel, ‘gut feel’ or word-of-mouth.”
MASTER THE ART OF CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT
Keeping a close eye on expenses and cash flow can help you plan for your financial future and avoid overspending in certain areas of your business.
“Explore innovative way to make sales and slash cash spending,” said Lisa Vitale, business matchmaker at BarterPays!. “This is going to be a long, financially-lean road. Seek out alternate revenue streams to continue building your client base and allowing you to preserve your financial stability, even when existing customer sales are down.”
William Vanderveer, CEO of Redefine Healthcare, always recommends keeping six months’ worth of expenses in savings in case you don’t see the sales you’d hoped for. However, this isn’t always possible, especially for businesses that depleted their savings trying to stay afloat through COVID-19.
“For … business owners [who are] unable to preserve this amount of capital, I would recommend obtaining lines of credit representing similar cash requirements,” said Vanderveer.
To save even more money, David Foley, CEO of Unify Cosmos, advised business owners to shift more processes into the digital realm.
“Investments should be made to make the most out of the limited capital,” Foley said. “This is the time where businesses need to look towards an online platform to better serve their clients with the use of VR tours, video calls and complete reports that can be easily sent online.”
NEGOTIATE NEW TERMS WITH YOUR VENDORS
Vendor expenses can add up quickly, and during a financial crisis, discussing concessions or negotiating new terms with vendors and suppliers can be extremely helpful to all parties involved.
“Many would like to retain your business after things calm down and will be willing to work with you,” said Vanderveer.
Lokesh recommended reviewing every vendor agreement and seeking flexible monthly contracts in place of long-term commitments.
“Negotiate payment terms to extend cash flow and runway,” said Lokesh. “Redefine what’s a ‘nice to have’ versus a ‘need to have’ for the business.”
Tyler Read, CEO of PTPioneer, said the best way to recession-proof your business plan is to diversify every element of your business, especially your income streams and the markets you serve.
“If you provide just one service in one industry or have all of your money resting on the success of one product, there’s every likelihood that your business will fail when a recession hits and people stop spending money on that particular service or product,” Read said. “Put passive income streams in place and expand your offerings to serve a greater diversity of industries or people.”
Read also recommended diversifying your staff to bring diverse perspectives to the table.
“The more diversity you have in your company, the more creative and innovative ideas you’ll have access to when a crisis hits,” he added.
KEEP INVESTING IN YOUR BUSINESS
Surviving the current economic downturn will be difficult for any business owner, but keep looking for opportunities, even when things feel bleak, said Vitale.
“Don’t stop marketing and advertising,” she said. “Businesses that continue to invest in themselves and advertise during recessions come back stronger and bounce back faster than those that [don’t].”
CO — aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.