Since 2016 I’ve worked for a small Inbound Marketing agency based in Melbourne, Florida. We partner with clients in many different industries all around the globe with a multi-tiered approach to help each client tell their individual stories. I’m passionate about storytelling. It says so in my work bio. 😉 I love my job for many reasons, above all, over the years I’ve developed a passion for helping small businesses and business owners thrive.
Today there are a lot of business owners and employees who are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders wondering how long the COVID-19 global pandemic will continue. The stark reality is many companies will not survive this crisis. As a coach’s wife, I’m acutely aware of how generous small business owners are to their local communities. They are the lifeblood of many athletic teams, PTA fundraisers, school trips, church fundraisers, recitals, community concerts, and plays. Now is the time for community members to give back to the businesses that have supported so many events over the years.
The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that there were 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2019. Freshbooks reported in 2018 that 15 million Americans were self-employed full time and estimated that by 2020 the number would rise to 27 million. Clearly that number is now going to change.
Here are a few stats from 2018 that put small businesses and entrepreneurship into perspective:
62% of small business owners don’t work with any staff.
20% earn less than $20,000 per year.
Life is Changing Rapidly
In the past ten days, our family shifted from packing for a getaway and meet up with our family in Minnesota at a water park in the Wisconsin Dells to sheltering in place and hunting for toilet paper online and in every store within our county. It’s jarring how quickly things can shift.
If you’re a small business owner you may have also seen a lot of your customers pause orders recently. It’s hard to know how to budget for business when you can no longer rely on projections and yearly spending trends. You’ve also likely had to make quick decisions about inventory or when and how to change your business model to adjust to daily changing rules with social distancing.
In our home, as our plans changed I suddenly realized I needed to stock up on food not only for the week home but for multiple days because our spring break was extended for an additional week. We were able to fill in most of the food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries we needed even though it wasn’t our typical shopping day thanks to a great sale at the grocery store and online pick up at Sam’s Club. This was just one tiny quick action we took. Consider how many business owners must take.
Another choice we made was to make a library run and stock up on books. The librarian mentioned we should make sure to sign up for digital access to things. He’d already heard they wouldn’t be open much longer. He was correct, they closed the following day and it will be a few more weeks at least before they open. As we chatted I realized how much life was going to change so we headed to my favorite coffee shop and bought several gluten-free pastries. I wanted them to know that even though I wouldn’t be around for a few weeks I hoped to see them when soon.
You Know Small Business Owners
Will you do me a favor? Will you take a minute and think about your neighbors, friends, and family. Make a list of how many people have a side hustle, own a business, or work for a small start-up company rather than a large franchise. Now. take that same list and consider who you know who draws a salary from mission support. For the rest of this post keep those people in mind.
Small Businesses Need Our Support
I know that right now many people are facing incredibly challenging months as we wait out our local and federal government responses to the coronavirus. There are so many unknowns. Workhours have already been cut, layoffs are occurring, and many people are looking for freelance work only to realize that businesses are cutting back in areas rather than hiring.
I believe many small business owners will eventually receive some sort of support, but which businesses will qualify and how long this who global pandemic is going to last is unknown. The instinct in such uncertain times is to buckle down and cut as many costs as possible. However, when it comes to the small businesses we believe in, we need to take time to think beyond the next few weeks.
When We Emerge
At some point, we will receive the all-clear to gather again in restaurants, churches, coffee shops, museums, co-working spaces, farmers’ markets, bakeries, concerts, and athletic events. We’ll wander around on a Saturday at the Farmer’s Market, stop at a food truck for breakfast, grab flowers and the week’s vegetables before heading out to meet friends at our favorite boutique to check out the latest trends in clothing.
But let’s pause for a moment. After weeks, possibly months without income, are you sure your favorite business will have the capital to buy supplies and reopen? If everyone stops their memberships or pauses purchasing, how can we expect that services will be available for us when we’re ready to resume normal life?
Businesses Still Have Bills
Just like households have rent, utilities, and loans to continue to pay even though we are facing a global pandemic. The same is true for businesses regardless of the size. Payroll, bookkeeping, software, website expenses, inventory, and office rent are just a few typical expenses a small business owner will pay every month.
We have to consider ways we can continue to invest in the businesses we love now, or they may not be around when we emerge from this current crisis.
Ways to Invest in Small Businesses Today:
- Don’t cancel your memberships
- Use date night money for take-out or delivery
- Allocate money to spend on small businesses that you would normally spend on gas
- Buy gift cards for the businesses you would normally be eating lunch or having coffee in with friends
- If you have a monthly subscription where you purchase items, see if any of your friends want to take advantage of your wholesale discount.
It’s likely many businesses are going to start to run sales. Set your notifications so you don’t miss any announcements. When a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal comes up, split the purchase with a friend. That way you both get to support a company you love and save money.
Take inventory of things around your house. I don’t know about you but I’ve been purging things like crazy lately just like we do every spring. It feels great to get rid of broken items and pass along things our boys have outgrown. As items in our house, break or wear down there are always things we need to replace.
As you replace broken items check out your local businesses. Even if you have to spend a little extra money consider the value of investing in that money in your community rather than elsewhere.
Don’t Forget About Your Favorite Ministries
One of the ways that people often tighten their belts in times of crisis is by stopping their giving to churches and nonprofit ministries. Just like small businesses the bills don’t pause for ministries during a crisis. In fact, in many cases ministries, finances are stretch thinner as people rely on extra support.
If you support missionaries financially or tithe regularly to your church it’s important to prioritize keeping these items in your budget even while we are all tightening our belts. It’s not an exaggeration to say that stopping your monthly giving could mean the difference between someone else affording their rent or paying for their groceries on a given month.
So, take a minute and review that list of small business owners. I encourage you to take some time to browse their websites as you’re hanging out at home this week. Make a list of a few items you need or want and figure out how to work them into your budget.
Make a list of restaurants and rotate where you order. Buy gift cards. Use them for future date nights and mark them for future gifts. You can use them to buy Christmas gifts for people in a few months or as a birthday or Christmas gift. Regardless of how you invest in small businesses in the weeks to come, my encouragement to you is to do so intentionally. You don’t need to go into debt to keep other businesses going!
If we all do just a little bit hopefully we’ll emerge from this horrible quarantine and discover all our favorite spaces waiting for us with adorable new seasonable outfits, the sharpest new lipstick colors, warm pastries, and delightful endless mugs of coffee that you don’t have to make yourself. Sigh…hang in there friends! We can do this together!
Are you a small business owner? Do you work with a ministry or nonprofit?
One way I support small businesses and nonprofit ministries is through my monthly blog post Wives Who Thrive. To learn more about this passion project read my invitation post here. To apply for a feature fill out this Google Doc so I can share your story!