Small businesses are essential to our country's economy. They constitute more than 99 percent of US businesses and employ 60 million people (Mahajan). These businesses promote growth to our community and give opportunities to local entrepreneurs (Gartenstein). By being specific to the community, small businesses provide for the needs and the culture of the neighborhood. They also give meaningful jobs and greater job satisfaction. These companies have faced and are currently facing a heavy toll because of COVID-19. What exactly are the hardships that these businesses had to face in the past year?
Since March 2020, small businesses have suffered devastating effects from the onset of COVID-19. By Alexander W. Bartik, a survey of more than 5,800 small businesses between March 28 and April 4 showed many problems emerge. “First, mass layoffs and closures had already occurred—just a few weeks into the crisis” (Bartik). Small business owner of a Legacy Academy (Early Childhood Education), Padma Kadiyala says, “At the beginning of the pandemic, we struggled to keep our doors open while facing financial problems”. She later continues that, “As an essential business, even though other businesses had to close, we chose to remain open to support the families of front-line workers. Once things settled a bit with availability of vaccinations our families started coming back but new issues with understaffing emerged. We are facing many challenges to adhere to the ever-changing guidelines, COVID outbreaks, and constantly worrying about the safety of our staff and children.”
At the start of COVID-19, people didn't know how long the impacts and the pandemic were going to last. Small businesses had varying opinions about this. “The median business owner expected the dislocation to last well into midsummer, as 50% of respondents believed that the crisis would last at least until the middle of June” (Bartik). So some business owners mistakenly predicted the duration of COVID-19. This caused even more struggle when the virus turned more prolonged than expected. Businesses needed to be worried about the fluctuations in safety standards. Small businesses needed to be flexible to account for the constant changes in the CDC guidelines. Some policies included recurring temperature screening, mask mandates, and consistent sanitizations. Throughout all this, the businesses needed more government and citizen intervention for support.
How are small businesses recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic? Small businesses have less financial security because of decreased demand and the cost of health and safety standards to maintain. Therefore, adjusting to a new business model can be difficult and expensive. Due to this, companies need to assess their financial damage and decide if they need funding or an increased budget (Lake). Already, these businesses have been making the first steps toward recovery. However, they need to continue to make changes to adjust to the new reality. Recovery will take time. It took an average of six years for small businesses to recover fully following the 2008–09 recession (Mahajan). So, what can we do to assist our nearby small businesses?
There are several opportunities for people to help out small businesses in the community. Everyone can amplify the messages of small businesses by posting on social media (Osmen). Unique ways to support restaurants and stores include getting take-out or buying gift cards to use later. A way to contribute more and host a webinar or offer free meetings to give advice. Simply, people in the community can leave a positive review to not only improve business but to make the owner's day a little bit happier in these trying times. These are a list of but not limited to ways to assist small businesses adjust to the new normal. So, with community support and proper planning small businesses can respond, recover, and thrive.
Mahajan, Deepa. “Protecting US Small Businesses from the Impact of Covid-19.” McKinsey & Company, 30 July 2020, www.mckinsey.com/about-us/covid-response-center/mckinsey-live/webinars/protecting-us-small-businesses-from-the-impact-of-covid-19.
Gartenstein, Devra. “Reasons Why Small Businesses Are Important.” Small Business - Chron.com, Chron.com, 28 Jan. 2019, smallbusiness.chron.com/reasons-small-businesses-important-54131.html.
Bartik, Alexander W., et al. “The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Business Outcomes and Expectations.” PNAS, National Academy of Sciences, 28 July 2020, www.pnas.org/content/117/30/17656.
Lake, Rebecca. “6 Ways to Rebuild Your Small Business after COVID-19.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 26 May 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/04/30/6-ways-to-rebuild-your-small-business-after-covid-19/?sh=7851fde716cc.
Osman, Maddy. “17 Ways to Help Small Businesses Impacted BY COVID-19.” Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Journal, 16 Apr. 2020, www.searchenginejournal.com/help-small-businesses-impacted-by-covid-19/360648/.