When COVID-19 hit Central Georgia in mid-March, many local entrepreneurs were left wondering what would happen to the businesses they worked so hard to build, and you might be wondering how to support small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Thanks to Coronavirus, 52 percent of small business owners expect to shut their doors within six months according to a May survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management.
The same research reports that 54 percent of those surveyed have laid off employees.
It goes without saying: small businesses need our support now more than ever.
Persons Banking Company spoke with Simonia Blassingame–the president and CEO of the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce–to get her take on how COVID-19 has affected Central Georgia’s small business community and ways you can help.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Small Businesses?
According to a survey by the U.S. census Bureau of Small Business, COVID-19 has had a widespread, negative effect on small businesses, with more than 50 percent of respondents reporting it would take at least six months to return to normal.
“There was both the unexpectedness and the urgency of the crisis,” Blassingame said. “Of course, many businesses had to close down, lay off employees, and limit access to products and services.”
This is important, because, according to Business Insider, more than 99 percent of businesses are small businesses. And Blassingame noted that, nationally, up to 88 percent of employers have less than 20 employees.
“This means that many of our neighbors, friends, and family members are connected to a small business in our local community,” she said.
However, she also noted that many local small businesses were not negatively impacted by COVID-19, including landscapers and roofers.
How You Can Support Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Outbreak
First, she advised consumers be understanding.
“Prices are fluctuating as many businesses are grappling with extra costs and reduced revenues,” she said. “Think about the increased need for disinfectants, masks, and plexiglass partitions required to maintain safe environments.”
She also encouraged residents to be patient and know that getting back to normal probably won’t happen right away.
Therefore, if you have an idea, be willing to share it–in private,” she said.
“There may be good reasons that they cannot implement it right away, but your idea may spark another great invention in the way products and services are delivered.”
Four Other Ways to Support Local Businesses
- Look for local products/services before heading to larger businesses
- Use social media to promote your favorite small businesses
- Leave a positive review for small businesses on popular websites such as Google, Yelp, and Facebook
- Can’t shop or dine in person? Buy gift cards to use for later
To Sum It Up
Our local small businesses employ your neighbors, friends, and family members; they need your support now more than ever.
So, shop small, be patient, and spread the word about your favorite, locally owned business.
And Simonia Blassingame, president and CEO of the Forsyth-Monroe Chamber of Commerce, offered this advice as well: “Always check with your local Chamber of Commerce for up-to-date information on our member businesses. We are always promoting great deals and new offerings of our members,” she said.