Your small business and COVID-19 questions, answered

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Small companies are among the many hardest hit because the coronavirus pandemic continues to trigger financial uncertainty in communities throughout the United States.

FILE PHOTO: A deli is seen closed, because of the outbreak of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) within the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Stephen Yang/File Photo

As some state economies start to reopen, we invited a gaggle of small enterprise consultants to return for a follow-up dialogue as a part of our #AsokReuters Twitter chat collection.

Below are edited highlights.

Why and the way have small companies been impacted by this pandemic?

“Many small businesses have been disproportionately impacted because they do not have the cash reserves and borrowing power to sustain their operations and their business models are not always designed to generate monthly recurring revenues.”

— Bob Chalfin, lecturer in administration at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Many small companies are nonetheless ready for federal support. Any tips about slicing via purple tape and staying afloat?

“I’m hearing that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan processing time has improved considerably recently, so there may be hope. Also consider local and state funding; many cities are offering cash grants and other support for local businesses.”

— Janet Alvarez, govt editor of Wise Bread

In addition to federal support packages, what extra can policymakers, monetary establishments and even shoppers do to answer the wants of small companies?

“If there was ever a time for rules to be broken, suspended, and rethought by lenders, landlords and credit agencies now is the time. See what all of those above can do to help.”

— Michael Sherrod, entrepreneur-in-residence at Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business

When it comes to help and loans, there’s some confusion about what must be paid again and when. How ought to small companies method their reimbursement plans?

“Carefully! Keep a close eye on your working capital ups and downs (and seasonality) as you plan out cash flow. Don’t be afraid to ask your bank to slow down your repayment schedule if you can demonstrate need – but being on top of your numbers is key to make that ask!”

— Tom Schryver, lecturer on the Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University

What are the most important errors you could have seen small companies make because the disaster hit?

“The biggest mistake I have seen is panic based on rumors. The situation is changing so fast that rumors abound. Stay informed, check rumors out with your network.”

— Tom Sullivan, vice chairman for small enterprise coverage at U.S. Chamber of Commerce

What are a number of the smartest strikes you could have seen small companies make within the midst of the pandemic?

“Some of the smarter small business owners rapidly adapted to messaging, such as by reaching out via social media or cold calling customers, letting them they are still open, for example, for take out home delivery.”

— Kashif A. Ahmed, founder and president of American Private Wealth, LLC

For many small companies, reopening might be akin to opening for the primary time. What recommendation do it’s important to plan – and pay – for reopening?

“Reopen in stages. Lay out a schedule to ramp up. Business is likely to be slow at first. Better to run out of product than to have too much early on. Coordinate with vendors & suppliers to have the product you need at each stage. Focus on cash flow.”

— Carl Peterson, vice chairman of small agency pursuits on the American Institute of CPAs

As the financial system begins to reopen, what are the important thing modifications small companies might want to make to succeed?

“Understand your customers and adjust to meet their needs, including providing a safe environment for staff and patrons. Focus on customer satisfaction and quality – volume may be down, but there’s an opportunity to make each transaction more profitable.”

— Mark West, nationwide vice chairman for enterprise options at Principal

When it involves small enterprise, what are you optimistic about proper now?

“Ingenuity and hard work are defining characteristics of small business owners. If we give them the tools to rebuild — a New Deal for small business — they will create jobs and economic activity on our Main Streets and lead the country out of the Great Lockdown.”

— Jacob Haar, managing companion of Community Investment Management

Editing by Lauren Young and Richard Chang


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