COVID-19, Business, and the Forgotten
There was a time when a web presence was optional for small business owners, in fact it was only less than a year ago. In rural areas, services could be provided the old fashioned way. No advertisement, just quality and word of mouth. With social distancing being a necessity, thousands of businesses, sole proprietors, and contractors were suddenly left to scramble for ways to stay afloat.
Insurance agents now not able to underwrite in person, a hair stylist not able to work in her shop, private drivers not able to transport just anyone. These were all directly affected by the lack of contact.
There are the forgotten sectors- contingent, temporary, and contract workers who found themselves without work nearly overnight after serving months to years in offices and factories. Larger corporations had to close doors and these workers have no protections. With the exception of IT and office admins, what happened to these workers? The ones order on a purchase order in increments of 5 - 25 employees for a project. The category for many of these workers serving under one year made them not eligible for unemployment through most firms. As households now make ends meet with less disposable income, the rural self employed markets- handymen, lawn & garden, growers, contracted repairmen all faced a sudden drop of clients and income. It is difficult to understand whether or not a shutdown helped more than it hurt when bearing witness to how devastating the losses to families who rely on business income became. The spread of Coronavirus still occurred and so far, there are no winners. As in rural areas, there are few cases, but the residents of these areas must either commute for work or spread their base service areas at the risk of contracting it from their customers.
For aging individuals, it is the first time they must seek online options to work beyond their areas. Others must adapt, offer a new service, revise their business structure for their remaining employees. These changes would have eventually come about over the next five to ten years with the expansion of broadband services. However, many are being forced to do what they can with far less bandwidth of their urban competitors.
In positive news, there has been assistance. Sadly, not enough, but it is better than nothing. States expanded Unemployment for contractors and sole proprietors. There was a stimulus package for families, though meager, still better than nothing. There will be tax assistance for struggling businesses and the CARES Act issued help to so many affected businesses to keep their employees in force, handle overhead expenses, and operations. America has a long way to go and if your business has been one of millions affected, use the technology available to seek assistance.
There were extensions made to tax deadlines along with more and more grants being offered by both government and private institutions. Learning what resources are available begin as easy as a trip to the bank you use for your business and you can also visit SBA.gov and USDA.gov for more information.