For Small Businesses, The Road to Recovery Starts Now
While there are certainly no positives associated with the coronavirus, timing is everything. Small business owners everywhere can rest assured knowing they have a pro-business president in office -- something that couldn’t have been said four short years ago. And it’s this secret weapon that will have small businesses firmly on the road to recovery in just a matter of weeks.
COVID-19: Ravaging Small Businesses
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually all businesses in one way or another. But the divide between small businesses and large organizations has never been clearer. While massive corporations have the cash and/or borrowing power to stay afloat for many months, the majority of small businesses do not. And we're beginning to feel the effects.
Economists project that more than 100,000 American small businesses have already shut down permanently since March. This suggests that at least 2 percent of all small businesses are now gone (never to return). And this is just the very tip of the iceberg.
According to a separate study that was conducted in April, as many as 7.5 million small businesses will be permanently shut down if business disruptions continue unabated. More than 90 percent of them will be companies with fewer than 20 employees.
Certain industries have been ravaged more than others. Service industries -- including restaurants -- have even higher closure rates. And the longer shutdowns continue, the more likely it is that businesses will flounder.
Trump’s Pro-Business Policies Will Help Small Businesses
The good news -- if you can call anything “good” amid this terrible situation -- is that we have a president who is pro-business. If this pandemic had occurred under President Barack Obama’s watch, the circumstances would have been much different.
For all of his talk about small businesses being the backbone of the American economy, the former president made it incredibly difficult for small businesses to grow. In fact, restrictions were the only thing that grew under the Obama administration. The rate of growth for regulatory restrictions increased by 38 percent from 2009-2012 (compared to previous administrations). Taxes inched up. Growth incentives declined. Businesses became dependent on the government, something most entrepreneurs have no interest in.
Today, the story is different. A study from summer 2019 shows that 59 percent of small business owners surveyed “strongly or somewhat” approved of the way the Trump administration has handled business-related issues during his term. At the time of that study, 46 percent said their confidence had increased since the election. And these numbers come despite the fact that Trump’s overall approval rating has long been mired in the 40s.
While it’ll be interesting to see how he polls on the backside of this pandemic, his response thus far has certainly been pro-small business. Here’s a look at just some of the support he’s provided:
- The president has led efforts to provide low-interest disaster loans and support to small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) has carefully streamlined the application process for loans (offering up to $2 million in assistance per qualifying small business).
- Traditional SBA loan programs continued to remain available (including $18 billion in 7(a) loans).
- The Department of the Treasury has been instructed to delay Tax Day until July 15 in an effort to provide small business owners with more time to pay taxes (without incurring any penalties or interest).
- The Commercial Service and Manufacturing Extension Partnership is working with state and local partners to assist small businesses in their efforts to reduce costs, find new buyers, and fill critical supply chain gaps.
- Small business owners get dollar-for-dollar tax credits for providing paid leave to employees who are impacted by the coronavirus.
In addition to this small sample of support, President Trump has held regular meetings with thousands of small business owners to hear their concerns and identify critical needs.
The Path to Recovery and Growth
Unlike previous presidents who pandered to small businesses during campaign season and then choked them out with restrictions once in office, this current administration has shown consistency in word and action. But incentives and programs can only do so much. When it’s all said and done, small business owners eventually have to step up and make things happen.
Here’s a look at some specific ideas and strategies that small businesses can use moving forward:
- Spend Stimulus Money Strategically
Businesses that receive stimulus money need to be very strategic with how they spend it. Smart investments today will yield massive returns down the road.
Marketing and branding will always be good investments. Confident brands stand out in tumultuous markets. Consider hiring an internet marketing company to help you develop and execute a strategy that pushes your business forward.
- Invest in Audience Building
You might be limited in which business tasks you're able to engage in, but you have every opportunity to invest in building your audience. This could be as small as pushing out regular Facebook Live videos where you talk about topics that your audience is interested in. Or it could be as complex as redesigning and optimizing your marketing and advertising strategies for a more focused approach to lead nurturing. The point is that you must invest.
- Focus on Communication
Communication has always and will be the key to navigating a pandemic. But for businesses that want to recover faster, clear and comprehensive communication is especially important right now.
Good communication engages and empowers your team, customers, and community. Be clear about where things stand, what the next steps are, and where things are going over the next few months. It’s okay to preface your communications by explaining that things are fluid, but don’t let your uncertainty prevent you from speaking up in the first place.
- Create Contingency Plans for the Future
It’s unlikely that this will be the last pandemic in your lifetime. While the circumstances of the next one will certainly be different, it’s imperative that you plan for future crises by creating detailed contingency plans.
A good contingency plan encourages you to build up liquid cash so that you’re never caught in a compromising situation. It also details how and when you’ll need to go virtual to keep employees healthy and continue operations. Be sure to think outside the box.
Moving Business Forward
As small businesses go, so the country goes. The sooner small businesses are able to recover, the faster individual Americans will be able to get back on their feet. So here’s to an administration that supports entrepreneurship, private enterprise, and capitalism. And here’s to a future that’s brighter than today’s bleak circumstances.
Image credit: Pixabay public domain