When people describe entrepreneurs and small business owners as resilient, there has never been a time when that has been truer than this year.
As small businesses in Oregon deal with unforgiving wildfires on top of the impact felt by the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses need to rethink and retool how they do business in order to survive. A pivot plan is critical.
Being a small business owner can often feel lonely, with the world, clients and employees weighing on their shoulders. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC) want one message to ring clear for businesses figuring out a pivot plan: You are not alone.
The SBDC network is the largest resource partner funded by the SBA and provides one-on-one business advising at no cost to entrepreneurs. Whether it’s creating a resiliency plan, navigating options for financing, reworking a marketing plan, or establishing new operations systems, SBDC certified advisers walk business owners through their options so they can confidently make tough decisions about their business.
Right now, there are three things every small business must do to successfully pivot and move their business forward:
- Don't panic. The resources for small business are some of the greatest in history and you are not in this alone.
- Look for opportunities. Business pivots and changes in consumer behavior provide opportunities toward innovation, new market strategies and operational efficiency.
- Negotiate well. We are all in this together and whether negotiation involves lease agreements, established contracts, or future business, strategic negotiation is a cornerstone of successful businesses.
SBDC advisers are actively helping Oregon businesses recover from wildfires and the pandemic with these three things already. In fact, more than 5,200 small businesses have received technical assistance from the Oregon SBDC since March.
Plus, Oregon small businesses have been approved for more than $9.2 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, SBA COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and EIDL Advances, thanks in part to SBDC advisers.
Thanks to the CARES Act, the SBA provided the Oregon SBDC with additional funding to expand the Oregon SBDC Capital Access Team. Composed of business advisers with financial backgrounds and retired bankers, these experts participated in numerous webinars with clients, partners, banks, and public agencies.
CARES Act resources have also allowed SBDC centers across the state to expand advising support to nearly twice as many clients served compared to the previous six-month period.
Working together with local partners, SBA staff and SBDC advisers have educated small businesses about the financing programs and helped guide business owners through the process. And both of our organizations continue to guide businesses through the PPP forgiveness process and other Coronavirus business support, along with disaster preparedness and recovery resources related to this summer’s wildfires.
Looking forward, new statewide advising services focused on restaurateurs are underway. This is utilizing restaurant advisers from the Oregon SBDC along with new advisers through an agreement with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association. Survey assessments of both restaurants and travel industry businesses continue through collaboration with Business Oregon, the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association, and Travel Oregon.
This is not the first obstacle small businesses have had to face. It will certainly not be the last either. One thing is for certain though: for decades, the SBA and Oregon SBDC have been there to empower small businesses to weather the storm and we’ll continue to do so through every stage of a business’ lifecycle.
(Jeremy Field is the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Pacific Northwest Region which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to start, grow, expand or recover.)
(Mark Gregory is the State Director of the Oregon Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an SBA-funded Resource Partner. The SBDC network provides management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their own businesses.)