If you’re a small business right now, chances are you’re head down, trying to figure out how to survive the next however many months while COVID-19 puts a stop to anything as usual. The bad news just keeps coming, but the good news is that there are resources out there, many of them specifically created for this time. Read on for some of the resources from the small business community—and an Oregon senator—to help you navigate this rough terrain.
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT
A good place to start might be Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The Center has put together a COVID-19 response plan, with a set of guidelines for businesses that looks at sales, cash flow, staffing, operations, and more.
The Center’s director Tammy Marquez-Oldham followed up with this advice for founders and owners: “Remember, you are not your business. You are the guardian and advocate for your business and employees. This objective perspective will be very helpful as you develop a strategy to move beyond this time of adversity and innovate through it.” Clackamas Community College’s SBDC chapter director Rob Campbell had this to add: “Focus your energy on three things: what can you eliminate, what is working now that needs more resources, and what can you add to diversify your offer to the market place to generate more gross margin.”
To that end, leadership consultant Julia Thompson is offering support for stressed-out managers to help themselves and their employees through the crisis. She'll help businesses curb professional anxieties and formulate action plans to move forward. Learn more here.
Additionally, a group of alumni from Portland State University's MBA program have launched an effort to bring together business experts to offer free consulting for small companies. Businesses are paired with teams of experienced, all volunteer working professionals with MBAs or degrees in finance for online strategy sessions. Apply for the free consulting through this website.
Local digital marketing agency Good & Gold (full disclosure: Good & Gold is owned by two former Portland Monthly employees) put out a free guide to marketing during the corona crisis, taking users through the importance of messaging and finding opportunities, among other things.
The Lewis & Clark Law School’s Small Business Legal Clinic (SBLC) provides business transactional legal services to low-income small and emerging businesses and nonprofits. They are still holding regular clinic hours via Zoom meetings on relevant topics including employment law counseling, lease reviews, and contract drafting.
Read our interview with international law firm Perkins Cole attorney Jon Hardin on why you should file a business insurance claim even if it will be rejected.
Check out Business for a Better Portland’s Switchboard where a category specifically related to COVID-19 will alert you to panels, workshops, and other resources focused on working through this time. They're also advocating at the local and state government levels for small businesses under pressure.
Meanwhile, Portland’s start-up community has created a new online group to help members navigate the pandemic and resulting quarantine. Members have shared resource documents, mental health advice, and COVID-19 projects in need of help.
MAKING SENSE OF THE STIMULUS PACKAGE
The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act (aka the federal stimulus) is complicated and intricate. Here is a PDF with questions and answers from the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley has released an 8-page PDF further detailing how the stimulus is available to Oregon's small businesses.