The reach of COVID-19 is vast, and its economic impact is dire. It’s up to us to do whatever we can to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Since COVID-19 has become a full-blown pandemic, unemployment rates have skyrocketed as businesses are forced to shutter their doors for the sake of public health.
It is certainly a stressful time, especially for small business owners who have much smaller coffers to sustain them.
If you’ve checked your email recently, you may have noticed all the businesses sending out notifications letting their consumers know how they are trying to help.
It is admirable to see individuals and organizations coming together to offer assistance to those in need.
If you would like to join the ranks of the helpful, here are 14 ways to help small businesses impacted by COVID-19.If you are not a member of the at-risk community, consider getting out there and doing some hands-on volunteering on behalf of your company.
- Meals on Wheels expects the number of individuals in need of their meal delivery service to increase and is actively looking for volunteers.You can also do the out-and-about – like shopping or picking up prescriptions – for at-risk individuals in your neighborhood.Post on a community Facebook group or, if you live in an apartment building, help your direct neighbors by putting a notice in the lobby.If you’re not able to brave the outdoors, but you have a sewing machine, you can join the ranks of people making homemade non-medical masks.They are easy to make, and a growing number of hospitals are requesting them to help extend the life of their N95 masks, which are in desperately limited supply.
- Instead of spending your days listlessly scrolling, make an active effort to follow and share the posts of companies you want to support.Make a Twitter list so that you can make this an ongoing effort.Amplify messages from small businesses with minimal effort and provide them with the most valuable advertising there is – word-of-mouth.If they’re running an awesome promotion to boost their sales, retweet it to your followers.If you have a loyal following, your social media boosts can also add credibility to the company you’re vouching for.
- If COVID-19 prevents a company from providing the product or service you ordered, wherever possible, choose a credit rather than a refund.With the economic hit of the pandemic on small business owners and entrepreneurs, this distinction might be the difference between them making rent this month – or not.
- You may finally have the time in quarantine to cook your own meals, but don’t forget to consider the dire situations of your favorite restaurants.Usually, restaurants only make a small amount of money from take-out orders.However, with dine-in temporarily restricted in most cities and towns, take-out and delivery have become most restaurants’ sole source of income.Just make sure that you’re tipping well – these people are working on the front lines of dealing with a dangerous disease.
- If you have the time and ability, consider using your skills to build an ecommerce website for a brick-and-mortar business to move their sales online.Or, if you’re an expert in enterprise and have strategies that can help small businesses bounce back from the economic upheaval of COVID-19, you’re in a unique position to offer tangibly useful information to the companies that need it.
- If you’re a business that is geared toward helping other businesses, you can offer free consultations to small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19.First, take the time to listen so that you understand the current state of affairs and problems they’re facing.Then, use your expertise to tell them how to generate more leads, market their business on social media, or whatever your company is best positioned to offer.
- If your company has the financial capacity to support a certain number of unpaid users, you can follow the lead of other businesses that are offering free services right now.To reduce risk, consider limiting this offer to specific groups (medical professionals, educators, etc.) to make it reasonable for you, while still making an impact where it counts.Many large companies who have the means are already doing this.
Adobe is offering temporary at-home access to students and teachers for free.
Multiple internet providers have stepped up as well, offering free broadband, equipment, and installation to students who are now learning from home.
- There are resources available for small businesses that are being hit hard by the effects of COVID-19.You can do the leg work of researching some of these options and sending whatever seems like a good fit to relevant small businesses that you care about.Businesses focused on the arts have quite a few relief funds set-up, both nationally and locally.On a related note, if you have any experience in applying for loans, you can directly help a small business owner do just that.
- If you’re in a position to offer loans or you have business customers set-up on payment plans, you can extend the payment terms to help with their current cash flow situation.If you’re a company that normally bills at net-30, you can temporarily change it to net-60 or more.
- On the other side of the coin, if you owe money to a small business and they have given you longer payment terms in the past, see if you can speed up the payment process.Having good cash flow is more important now than ever for small businesses.
- On the other side of the coin, small businesses should also do what they can to efficiently help communicate the current state of affairs with customers.Put together a page on your website that updates users on the details of your business (adjusted hours or pricing) and how you are helping.You can include articles and resources that may be useful, including any grants or funding opportunities you’ve found that are relevant to your audience.
- If you are still fully operational, find ways to encourage your employees to make purchases that support small businesses.Set up a program that covers the cost of virtual classes for fitness or job training.The key here is to focus on getting dollars flowing to small businesses, rather than large corporations that are better positioned to absorb the impact of the pandemic economy.
- Prior to COVID-19, most of us could easily support small businesses by shopping local.But when “local” has come to mean your apartment or house, you need to adjust.Instead of walking into a store, get in contact online or by phone and see if you can arrange for delivery.With their doors shuttered, most are ready and willing to bring their products to you.
- The reach of COVID-19 is vast, and its economic impact is dire.Small businesses are hurting the most. It’s up to us as a community to do whatever we can to help our neighbors.Whether it’s with monetary support, volunteering our talents, or even just ordering some Chinese food from a local establishment, every bit counts.If we work together, we can keep our bodies and our businesses healthy.