As the US responds to the Coronavirus pandemic, many states are beginning to open up and businesses are operating with limitations. This resource from Multi State provides continuously updated resources with information about:
Impact on state legislative sessions
Our team is working hard to make good on our promise to serve those who have served. Never has that been more critical than this year as we have faced and continue to face a lot of uncertainty in business. We have compiled a list of personal and professional tips and resources to help you navigate the current COVID-19 situation. This page continues to be updated as more information becomes available.
Short-term action and long-term response need to be key areas of focus during this time. Here are some key pieces of advice to consider right away:
It is not too late to write a business continuity plan.
Be clear but concise about what your customers can expect from your business – if you are still up and running, communicate what you are doing to continue to serve them during this crisis. And if you decide to temporarily suspend operations, let your customers know that as well.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees may claim an exemption from the emergency paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and the exemption applies specifically to leave taken for reasons of child care and school closures related to COVID-19, according to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) guidance updated March 28. More details listed in People section below.
The SBA has released Coronavirus Guidance and Resources. To learn more, click here
The SBA has 68 District Offices throughout the country and also partners with a variety of other organizations and agencies to support and supplement its work. Find a local resource here – https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance.
While businesses are reviewing reopening procedures and other policies, consider the effect the virus has on the people within each organization. Employees have become increasingly anxious with the rise of the pandemic and what it means to socially distance yourself in a working environment. While most companies have implemented a strict protocol to promote hygiene, other companies have reverted to working remotely. Big businesses have issued travel restrictions with the intention of limiting their employees’ exposure. In some cases, companies have been forced to shut down completely in response to the lack of incoming business. This outbreak has left many employees without a job. What’s next? First, protect your employees and provide them with resources to safely prepare as the virus unfolds:
Tips to prepare:
DOL outlines small-business exemption from coronavirus paid leave law (HR Dive) – small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, including religious and nonprofit organizations, are exempt from two aspects of the FFCRA’s provisions — (1) paid sick leave due to school closure, place of care closure or child care provider unavailability for COVID-19 related reasons; and (2) emergency paid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) — when doing so would jeopardize the viability of the business, DOL said. An “authorized officer” of the business must determine whether it meets this criteria, according to the guidance.
New isolation/return-to-work guidance from the CDC has caused many employers to revisit company policies. This analysis by HR Dive dives into the details you need to consider.
Crosstrain employees if/when possible to prepare for employee absence
Current National Guard service members may be called to duty. Please take this into consideration when preparing for absences.
Prepare unemployment packets in advance for your employees to make filing easier. Check USA.gov’s Unemployment Help Website to prepare and assist your employees. Also, don’t forget to check what your state requires to file for unemployment.
Communication plan – send weekly communication regarding:
COVID-19 Updates – check the CDC website for the latest updates
COVID-19 is affecting more than just healthcare operations. Small businesses in all industries are forced to adjust and adapt to the changing consumer environment. While many companies are forced to cut their hours of operations to lower business costs, other businesses are capitalizing on e-commerce opportunities and virtual services. Below are tips to help shift your daily process to accommodate social distancing:
Communication Is Key
Communicate with your customers to let them know what you are doing to combat the virus; hygiene procedures, operating hours, response to the outbreak, SOP changes
The Federal Trade Commission is attempting to arm as many people as they can with tips on how to spot, avoid, and report Coronavirus scams. They are continuing to help their customers by establishing a website to keep everyone updated with important information on how to protect themselves from COVID-19 scams.
All employers need to determine how best to mitigate the spread of the virus and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace. They should identify and communicate their specific intentions, which could include protecting people who are at higher risk for adverse health complications, maintaining business continuity, and minimizing adverse effects on other departments or organizations in your supply chains.
When reviewing your organization’s policies and procedures, it is important to think through the second-order effects as well. For example, a ban on travel without a solid work-from-home policy can make the office crowded, leading to higher risk of transmission, and, if you conduct business from multiple geographical locations, consider what impact the closure of one office has on the productivity of another.
Some of the key considerations when making decisions on appropriate responses are:
Virus severity (i.e., number of people who are sick, hospitalization and death rates) in the community where the business is located
Impact of virus on employees who are vulnerable and may be at higher risk for COVID-19 adverse health complications
Prepare for possible increased numbers of employee absences due to illness in employees and their family members, dismissals of early childhood programs and K-12 schools:
Employers should plan to monitor and respond to absenteeism at the workplace. Implement plans to continue your essential business functions.
Assess your essential functions and the reliance that others and the community have on your services or products. Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize customers, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
Do you know the rules around giving notice of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and the sharing of medical information? Here is need-to-know data privacy information for reference.
Allow local leadership/management to have authority to take appropriate actions outlined in their business infectious disease response plan based on the condition in each locality.
Coordination with state and local health officials is strongly encouraged for all businesses so timely and accurate information can guide appropriate responses in each operational location
Troubled organizations are more likely to believe in a faster recovery—or a shallower downturn. Facing up to the possibility of a deeper, more protracted downturn is essential, as the options available now may be more palatable than those available later.
Keep your financial house in order during the pandemic:
Tips to Prepare:
Ensure accessibility to vendor information, account numbers, and invoices/payments if employees are not permitted to be physically present in the office
Evaluate ability to cut checks early if necessary, for quarantine purposes
Evaluate potential penalties if payments are delayed due to quarantine purposes
Set-up automated payments for recurring expenses such as utilities, janitorial services, and maintenance, where possible
Contact your creditors to let them know if/when you are affected by COVID-19-related regulations. Most will have a plan in place to help you.
Consider deferring any optional expenses
Are your business and personal finances in order? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a checklist for you to review.
Restructuring Protections in a Time of COVID-19 – some legal guidance from the National Law Review to help you navigate what may or may not be protected at this time. Please note this is guidance and not specific to everyone’s unique situation.
The SBA has released loan resources and other funding options as businesses navigate through the pandemic. Check them out here.
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, consumer trends have shifted immensely to adapt to the unprecedented times. Businesses are constantly making adjustments to maximize benefits for their audience. Here are a few useful tips about current consumer trends every business should consider implementing:
Consumer trends during Coronavirus (obtained from Shopify.com)
Additionally, it is key for business owners to be transparent with their consumers. Make sure to frequently communicate where your business operations stand, what changes the company is implementing, etc.
Click here for 10 detailed charts about how consumer trends and business functions have shifted since the Coronavirus outbreak (obtained from McKinsey & Company)
According to corporate supplier diversity representatives, big companies are making efforts to grow their diverse spend now more than ever before as a result of the economic impact brought on by COVID-19.
Walmart has a new policy to support any associate who may be affected by the virus, including paid leave for any associate who needs to self-quarantine. Also, Walmart has adjusted operating hours for Walmart stores and Neighborhood Markets to help ensure associates are able to stock products and sanitize the stores. No-contact pickup and delivery is available in some areas with a full roll-out expected in the coming days.
Darden Restaurants, parent company for Olive Garden, announced it will begin offering its 170,000 workers paid sick leave amid coronavirus concerns. The company was developing the policy but is rolling it out sooner following a report that workers were coming in sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off.
Tips to help veteran or military spouse-led small businesses manage through uncertainty- We also created a new site for small businesses with additional tips and recommendations to navigate this time of uncertainty for their employees and customers.
The COVID-19 situation reminds businesses everywhere that customers, employees, financial operations and supply chains can all be affected. That’s why every business needs a plan to face disruption with clarity, confidence, and relative calm. Chase has tools and support to assist your business. Visit the Chase for Business Covid-19 program page for important information about how to create your contingency plan.
Amazon is helping veterans start their own delivery business
Verizon started a Pay It Forward campaign that features a livestream of some of the biggest names in entertainment to help small businesses
Women’s Business Development Center: In addition to providing strategic financial counseling, the WBDC Access to Capital Team, in collaboration with the SBA, has developed the attached online tools to assist small businesses and sole proprietorships with the Economic Injury Disaster Loan application process. The tools and information are on our website, www.wbdc.org and are also being shared as widely as possible with entities like yourselves, that work with business service organizations and small businesses- women, veteran, minority and other diverse populations.
Veteran and Military Spouse Owned Businesses selling PPE (not an exhaustive list):