How To Keep Small Businesses Alive During Coronavirus Shutdowns
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I originally published this piece on Medium.
Main Street and privately owned businesses are at the greatest risk when they cannot operate or pay employees. But we can all step up and help.
Despite the lavish lifestyles we see from everyone on social media, what sort of financial state are our American friends and relatives actually in?
Almost half of Americans can handle a $1,000 emergency, such as a medical bill or car repair, by dipping into savings.
Another 37% say they would use a credit card, take out a personal loan or ask family for financial help to handle unexpected expenses, according to a new poll from Bankrate of over 1,000 U.S. adults. Only about 3% of respondents say they don’t know how they would handle a $1,000 emergency.
That’s in line with other research. Last year, about 61% of American households said they would pay for an unexpected $400 expense with cash, savings or a credit card, the Federal Reserve found. About 12% said they would not be able to cover the expense at all.
Now that many businesses, restaurants, and services have slowed or completely halted amid the Coronavirus crisis, millions of Americans are left worrying about the next rent or mortgage payment, and some are even unsure about when they’ll get paid again.
Here’s how we can help:
Restaurants: Though many are closed to in-house dining, they still offer takeout options and gift certificates. If you’re a regular at a local spot, continue your normal routine by ordering takeout and tipping as if you were sitting in the restaurant.
Or, purchase a gift certificate now for later use. It allows them to keep revenue coming in when they need it the most.
Fitness professionals: Most gyms have also closed for obvious reasons. If you’ve ever considered hiring a trainer, reach out to some professionals and inquire about virtual training through video chats.
Meal prep companies are also still offering delivery, and nutrition coaches are available online too. Plus, now is not the time to neglect one’s health.
Mom and pop shops: If you live in a smaller town where some businesses are struggling, contact store owners directly about purchasing some of their inventory. They are likely seeing a drastic decrease in foot traffic and patronage but could potentially deliver or reserve something for you.
Online businesses: It’s obvious that online businesses don’t close down, but independent contractors and artists are feeling the pinch like everyone else.
Browse websites like Etsy or Fiverr where regular everyday people are selling their services and their crafts, art, and unique creations. Shift some of your regular purchasing to smaller sellers.
Friends and family: Go through the contacts in your phone. Jog your memory about who has struggled in the past or who is self employed. If they are in an industry being affected by these closings, send them a text and see how you can help them.
Or, choose a random name and Venmo $20 to them. A small act of kindness will show people they’re not alone in a time where many of us are quite literally, alone in our homes.
Union workers: Depending on location and company size, consider plumbers, electricians, and other skilled laborers who may be pushed off of their normal schedule. Think of what oddjobs you may have around the house and reach out to see if they are open for work. Ensure them you will provide a clean and healthy workspace.
Reviews: For literally anyone in business, online reviews are of paramount importance. Consumers make decisions based off of referrals and feedback about a particular service or product provider.
It is free to go online and leave some positive words about someone you’ve done business with in the past. Not only will it encourage future patrons to work with them, but it will give them a morale boost during a difficult time.
Sharing on social media: If you see a friend working to promote themselves online, take a moment to share their posts or website with your friends. Any extra exposure will help them and it doesn’t cost you anything.
Everyone: The fact is, right now everyone is in a position where they could use a little help. By showing empathy and support during tough times, we help those around us push through and come out stronger when everything goes back to normal — whatever our new normal will look like.
Remember to practice kindness and patience in the coming weeks as everyone navigates this challenge together. None of us have experienced anything like this before and we are figuring it out as we go.
Stay healthy, happy, and productive. Every challenge is also an opportunity.
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