Small Business Sustainability during COVID-19 Restrictions

Dr. Jillian Starman Director of EducationBy: Jillian Starman, Ph.D., MFF Director of Education; Founder of Wise Women Leadership

Dr. Jillian Starman is the Director of Education for Morgan Franklin Fellowship Foundation: an organization that promotes financial independence through online financial literacy education, and the founder of Wise Women Leadership: an organization that focuses on leadership growth, performance improvement, and business coaching for women entrepreneurs and leaders.

Small business owners are a resilient bunch; they are dedicated to their mission, work long hours, and build valuable relationships with their customers. During this time of the “shelter in place” decree, those with employees are finding creative ways to keep their businesses running, while others are taking this time to restructure or relocate their business. My work focuses on women entrepreneurs and leaders, and I recently talked with some of my clients and friends about the impact on essential and non-essential businesses. Below are a few examples of how these women are adapting to local and state directives.

Amy purchased an existing crafted-coffee business almost two years ago. Her business includes coffee products and baked goods, and while she has had to close the dining area, she does have a drive-up window where she can still conduct business. I called her last week to place an order, and she was happy to report that she and her small staff are very busy. When they opened up a few mornings ago, there was a line of cars waiting to pick up their coffee and breakfast pastries. Amy also continues to market her business through social media and highlights daily and upcoming specials.

Jennifer purchased a long-standing locally owned home décor store last year. She has several employees and is fortunate to be able to keep everyone busy with essential business and new construction projects. She is also using this time to review processes and procedures that can help her business improve performance. Marketing is an ongoing strategy, even though customers are not allowed to visit the showroom at this time. Keeping the store name, as well as products and services, fresh in the minds of current and potential customers will support new business prospects once “shelter in place” is lifted.

Kelly is a beautician who has rented booth space at a local salon for the past 10 years, and is on the list of non-essential businesses. The owner of the building has agreed to lower the rent for the time being, which helps with expenses, but she still needs to generate some type of income during this time. In the early days of the Covid-19 declaration, clients were calling her to see if she could come to their homes – not quite understanding the “shelter in place” framework or realizing that she could be charged with a misdemeanor! She has been working with her clients and instructing them on how to self-care for the time being, as well as creating customized product kits to support ongoing personal maintenance.

Tammy, who has owned her own massage therapy business for over 18 years, is now considered non-essential. While at home working on making face masks for other “essential” workers, she has been thinking about how she could conduct business moving forward. Time to reflect triggered the
consideration of a new collaboration, which also includes a new location. The new location will improve visibility and foot traffic for her business – both of which she will need to get her business back on its feet after the “shelter in place” declarations have been rescinded. So, she gave notice to her current landlord, has moved her equipment to storage, and is planning for the re-launch of her business as soon as the state directives are lifted.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), there are over 30 million small businesses in the United States that account for 1.8 million new jobs each year. The businesses highlighted here are just a few examples of what essential and non-essential business owners are doing to stay in business to meet the needs of their customers. Small businesses need our patronage, so that when the “shelter in place” directives are lifted, they will still be around for us to enjoy. Support your local small business today!

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