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Bella Vasta, pet business coach

Episode 188: Things To Consider Before You Close Your Business (Temporarily)

 

Things To Consider Before You Close Your Business (Temporarily)

Lately, I’ve been having A LOT of conversations with pet business owners around whether or not they should close their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to be clear – I am NOT advocating one way or the other, but simply here to provide all of the different angles you should consider in order to make the best choice for you, your business, your staff, and your clients.

At the end of the day, every business is different. We all have unique situations, circumstances, and experiences that make us all different in our own ways. It is not our place to judge someone else’s business and tell them they need to close or not close. We are all in this together, and we need to support each other now more than ever.

 

Things To Consider Before You Close Your Business

Show Highlights

  • [2:25] – Consider your area. Different parts of the country (and the world) are undergoing different levels of isolation and social distancing. Check with your local governments for guidance as to how your business operations fit into the current climate. Pay extra special attention if your local area has a “shelter-in-place” directive.
  • [5:00] – Consider the effect on your staff. There are a few different options businesses have in regards to dealing with staff. You can furlough them, lay them off, or continue business as usual. As with everything, there are pros and cons to each route.
  • [6:45] – Consider the type of messaging coming from your business. Internal and external messaging is critical. The worst thing you can do as a business right now is not to stand up as a thought leader. Keep your audience informed and keep it honest. And please, do not say you are closing up shop without making it clear that it’s a temporary closure.

  • [10:00] – If you have to close your business… do not give up. This is the time to feed your mind so that when the world goes back to normal, we can come back bigger and better than ever.

 

COVID Pet Industry

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Pet industry COVID-19

The Ultimate Resource Guide for Pet Business Owners During COVID-19

Running a pet business – or any business for that matter – can be a scary venture at the best of times… but in the face of a global pandemic, everything is much more overwhelming. Studies have shown that 96% of small businesses in the United States have been impacted by COVID-19, and 67% of small business owners are struggling with knowing how to apply for emergency funding.

I get it. 

With so many unknown variables, maintaining your drive and focus may be more difficult.

But now is NOT the time to give up! 

You are not alone in this and, together, we WILL get through this tough time. 

In fact, there are plenty of government resources and incredible offers available for small business owners – and I’ve saved you the trouble of searching the internet so you can JUMP right in! 

I want you to succeed. YOU are going to make it through this. Your BUSINESS is going to make it through this. 

I am sharing the below resources with you to INSPIRE action. So, let’s jump right to it:

Financial Resources for those in the United States…

While many states are requiring nonessential workers to stay home, animal-care providers are typically considered essential businesses. Animals can’t care for themselves and it’s SO important that we have the resources we need to do what we do best – love and care for our furry friends! 

Small business owners are currently eligible to apply for a low-interest loan due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). These loans are meant to cover accounts payable, debts, payroll and other bills COVID-19 has affected your ability to pay.

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses in the following states with working capital loans of up to $2 million:  Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. Click here to apply.

The SBA also offers a variety of grants for research, nonprofits, educational institutions, and more as well as other types of resources specifically for COVID-19.

Additionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has their own COVID-19 resource guide that is worth taking a look at.

Grants are excellent during this time because they don’t need to be repaid, and they won’t hurt your business credit score! Other places to search for grants include:

Another great opportunity is Fundera’s Annual Entrepreneurial Grant, The Zach Grant, which helps budding entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Simply record a 3-minute video explaining the reason you started your own business. Have fun with it and earn up to $2500!

 

COVID Pet Industry

You can check out more small business grant offerings here, including those specifically for women-owned operations.

Did you know…? The federal tax return filing deadline has been pushed from April 15 to July 15, 2020. You can check your local state tax agency for any other updates right here.

Remember, every state has its own unique programs and funding. From the Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund to the Denver Small Business Emergency Relief, you can find more information on your state governor’s website.

For more on state disability, paid family leave and unemployment, click here.

If you’re local to AZ, The Arizona Commerce Authority is a great resource for small business owners. Check back throughout the year for new competitions and grant options! 

The Department of Labor has also expanded unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak. If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to coronavirus, you can file for unemployment insurance. Search for specific filing requirements within your state at careeronestop.org.

Banks and credit card companies are also offering relief for their customers during this time. Be sure to check-in to see if there is anything your bank can do to offset financial burdens during this time.

The Jewish Free Loan Association is offering interest-free and fee-free loans that can be turned around in a matter of days to those impacted by COVID-19. You do not need to be Jewish to apply.

For those businesses with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue, Amazon is offering a Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Facebook’s Small Business Grant Program is also offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. 

Verizon and LISC Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Fund is offering grants up to $10,000 with a focus on entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses, and other businesses operating in under-served communities.

GoFundMe, Yelp, & Quickbooks’ Small Business Relief Initiative  is a program offering up to $1.5 million in donation matching to help provide small business owners with funding, grants, and resources.

Are you a kennel owner, vet practice, shelter, or pet supply store? If you have a brick-and-mortar business that will remain open during this time, be sure to check out OSHA’s Guidance for Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

Pet industry COVID-19

Employment Resources for those in the United States…

If someone you know has recently been laid off or has recently become unemployed, big companies like Amazon, CVS, and Walmart are hiring

The following companies are hiring right now: 

  • Amazon – Hiring 100,000
  • Kroger
  • Safeway – Hiring 2,000
  • Meijer
  • HEB
  • EQRx (Boston)
  • Sodexo
  • Philips
  • Stop and Shop
  • Papa Johns
  • Qualcomm
  • Polk Mechanical
  • Amentum
  • Honeybaked Ham
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • M&T Bank
  • CVS
  • Kerry
  • Sodexo
  • Brookdale Senior Living
  • Dexcom
  • Naviga Recruiting
  • Stryker
  • Upfield
  • Domino’s – Hiring 10,000 workers
  • Salesforce
  • Lowe’s
  • Crowdstrike
  • Vonage (San Francisco, CA, Atlanta GA, Holmdel, NJ, London UK, Wroclaw Poland, Barcelona, and Tel Aviv)
  • Fannie Mae
  • Dollar Tree & Family Dollar – Hiring 25,000
  • Walmart – Hiring 150,000 employees
  • Peloton

Career changes and job searching aren’t easy, especially in the midst of a global crisis. Luckily, these companies are opening their doors to new faces and a lot of them!

Other Helpful Continued Learning Resources…

If you’re like many others around the world today, you may be stuck inside to practice social distancing. Yes, it’s hard to disrupt our normal routines – but there ARE silver linings! 

In fact, now is an excellent time to continue learning, growing, and reach out to others (virtually, of course!), so we can jump back into our businesses with even more knowledge than before!

In fact, I’ll be hosting a two-week pop-up group called Pet Industry COVID-19 Survival Group which will run from Monday, March 23rd to April 6th in an effort to help educate you on the most pressing topics of the current climate. 

Join in and have NINE experts at your fingertips to help you make the BEST decisions in your business during this crisis. We’ll talk about finances, loans, unemployment, marketing, social, and more. By joining my pop-up group, you can:

  • Talk to lawyers and attorneys on the latest legislation in Congress.
  • Consult industry-leading from HR experts on sick time policy and paid leave.
  • Learn from social media and website marketers who are at the top of their game and ready to help YOU get to the top of yours.

Additionally, there are TONS of free learning resources to take advantage of – encourage your employees, colleagues, friends, and family to do the same. We’re all in this together. 

From Harvard to Princeton, here are 450 Ivy League courses you can take for FREE! 

Class Central offers more than 2700 unique business courses for free as well. Coursera has also created a centralized resource with free courses, discussions, and expert interviews.

EdX is another great spot for free online learning – check out this free course on The Science of Happiness. After all, we could use a little cheer during this time!

DigitalMarketer is offering its Lab Membership for FREE for all businesses and marketers impacted by COVID-19.

And now that we’re all spending more time online, it may be useful to work on your graphic design skills to continue catching the attention of your customers! Check out Graphic Design Essentials by HubSpot Academy and Adobe Illustrator for Absolute Beginners by EduOnix. 

A few more helpful learning programs/resources to check out are as follows:

Microsoft is offering Microsoft Teams Freemium so you and your team can stay connected through unlimited chat, private/group video calls, up to 10 GB of file storage, and real-time collaboration with Microsoft Office programs.

Zoom has altered their (free) basic plan so that you can host up to 100 participants in one meeting as well as hold unlimited 1-on-1 meetings.

Kabbage recently launched an online hub to assist U.S. small businesses boost sales as well as a system where businesses can sell gift cards to clients to use at a later date.e

Business Warrior, a software platform that delivers priorities & recommendations to business owners to overcome roadblocks, is offering a free one-year subscriptions.

It’s also important to stay active, both physically and mentally during this difficult times. Here are a few resources that can help:

Headspacea guided meditation app, has released a variety of guided meditations and exercises for free to all business and their employees.

ClassPass is offering free access to 2,000 on-demand workouts as well as giving the option to their studio partners to offer live-streamed classes on the platform.

Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list. There are SO many resources for you out there and I hope you’ll take this time to jump in and expand your knowledge base.

Pet Business Owners, Remember This…

As we move forward in this “new normal”, remember this: do NOT press pause on your business goals!

Now is NOT the time to halt the business efforts that are actually making you money.

The future is coming at us fast, and these current times will end.

The most important thing is to be responsive instead of reactive

Continue to make GREAT decisions that will GROW your pet business and set you up for success. And remember to think of your colleagues, employees, and clients – reach out to them, share these resources, and stick together. 

You’ve Got This and I’m Right Here With You.

This is a uniquely challenging time and there is a lot changing minute by minute it seems. While it’s important to stay vigilant, don’t give in to the panic of the coronapocalypse. Stay engaged, be in touch with your business partners, employees, clients, friends, family, and, of course, your pets!

And, of course, this is a great opportunity for you to become a thought leader in your community. We want to provide useful, factual information to demonstrate to our clients that we’re prepared and have a plan for our business during this difficult time. 

We want to ensure that we stay calm, know our policies/procedures, and demonstrate leadership to help guide our clients and employees.