BUSINESS ASSISTANCE Topics
▫ SBA Emergency Loans Overview & Comparison
▫ Steps Small Businesses Can Take Now to Navigate COVID-19
▫ Common Issues Small Business May Encounter
▫ Disaster Recovery Contracting Assistance
Contact the North Carolina SBTDC near you for assistance in developing your overall COVID-19 Recovery plan. Our organization has been helping small and mid-size business in NC for 35 years. We have extensive experience working with businesses recovering from disasters. Our business counselors can help you:
Confused by the new SBA emergency loan programs? The CARES Act provides funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, modifies the existing Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and provides immediate loan payment relief for current SBA 7(a) borrowers. The SBTDC’s SBA Emergency Loan Overview & Comparison publication provides an overview and comparison of the key components and eligibility requirements of these programs.
Things small business owners should consider and do right now so you’ll be better prepared to survive through the COVID-19 pandemic. These, incidentally, are smart preparations to undertake at any time, so you’re not wasting the effort.
1. Look at your financials and cash flow. How long can you “make it through” in case of a quarantine, lost wages, employee absenteeism (when you are paying for sick leave AND not bringing in revenue). What do you need to bridge the gap? Plan on a 6-8 month drop in revenues. Map out cash flow now. Get a credit line approved now. You don’t have to use it. But you’ll have it when you need it. Aggressively pursue accounts receivables.
2. Slash your overhead. If you’re worried about losing customers or employees due to sickness, school closures or possible quarantines, cut the things you don’t HAVE to spend your money on.
3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and Get Online! Keep staff and customers informed and up-to-date on your operations. It’s important for businesses to keep in touch with customers to help maintain them through this incident. Let them know what steps you are taking to ensure a safe and clean establishment; what your open hours are and how to communicate with you; use email auto-reply with answers to frequently asked questions to help your customers get information quickly; offer alternative methods of good deliveries (curbside service, at home delivery, drive thru, etc.). Use online platforms, like Facebook and your website, to inform customers of your operating status and how to purchase your products or services. Communicate this information through direct email to customers and through social media such as Twitter. Make sure you have a Business Profile on Google. Postal mail might be a way for your message to get customers’ attention who are being bombarded with emails.
4. Understand your insurance policy. What does your insurance cover? What doesn’t it cover? Business interruption insurance is insurance coverage that replaces business income lost in a disaster. Business interruption insurance is not sold as a separate policy but is either added to a property/casualty policy or included in a comprehensive package policy as an add-on or rider. If you don’t have business 1 interruption insurance, it may be too late to help you in this emergency, but you should know what it is, how it works, and how much it costs. A government mandated closure (hospitality businesses, for example) most likely will enable business interruption insurance to kick in.
5. Look at your supply chain. Are they diversified or are you relying on one source for your products? Supply chain management is essential in any global pandemic. Travel, workforce absenteeism, and financials will impact supply chains across the world. It’s important you have multiple providers of a resource that is the core of your business. Consider partnering with other businesses to share a vendor contract. That will make your order larger and a higher priority to the provider and may help to reduce the costs of goods.
6. Develop an incident response plan. What do you have in place in case of a quarantine? Can your employees work from home? Can you sell online or deliver instead of staffing brick and mortar? What kind of technology can be implemented to reach your customers? What communication is in place to your customers and employees? Identify essential functions and cross-train employees now so several can perform those tasks. Consider what programs or services could temporarily be shut down. Think about potential disruptions in supplies, services and transportation in the likelihood those organizations experience employee absenteeism. Identify alternative vendors / suppliers / etc. and how to reach them. Store information on your employees, vendors, and clients in an online account so it’s accessible from any device.
7. Prepare for a disaster loan. Complete and assemble 2019 and prior year financial statements. Start documenting and forecasting the impacts of the situation. In the past, SBA disaster loans have required many forms, can be confusing, and could take 3-6 weeks before receiving the money. Additional details on SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
8. Practice Social Distancing! Social distancing is a term applied certain action to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Here’s some action items you can implement quickly in your business:
The NC Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is available to assist businesses with federal, state, and local contracting in response to COVID-19. View the “Working with FEMA and Disaster Recovery Operations” publication here. To contact a PTAC counselor, visit nc-ptac.org.