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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 its own COVID-19 resource guide that is worth taking a look at. Also take a look at the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s COVID-19 Resource Guide.

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!

Additionally, Business For All in partnership with Hello Alice & Verizon is offering grants up to $50,000 including a $10,000 COVID-19 Emergency Grant.

 

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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

mastermind pet sitting

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.

Need something else that isn’t apart of this list? Check out findhelp.org.

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.

Marketing Problems

3 Problems Everyone Has With Marketing Their Pet Sitting Business

Marketing is something that either comes naturally to you or you despise. Have you ever had that moment where you’re lying awake at night wondering how to bring in more clients that you WANT? Or how to stop getting calls, texts, and emails from the clients that you don’t want?

You just hired a few incredible people and you don’t want them to lose interest (because we all know how hard it is to find great people) but you just don’t have any clients to give them.

Or you’re on the edge of working 100% in your business and want to hire but also doing a balancing act where you don’t give up all of your work. Your bills need to be paid, so you can’t give up your clients to the first person you hire. Things would be easier if you had a steady stream of clients coming in, or your name was everywhere in the community so that you had a bunch of new clients to give to your new hire.

You hope that when the residents in your town think about pet care… they think about your company.

Does any of this sound familiar?

That is the result we all dream of but honestly, it is really hard to get there.

marketing - hard work

The most common challenges I see pet businesses face around marketing are not having the time to do it, the money and resources to fund it, or the creative juices to create it.

Can I get an Amen?!?!

I Don’t Have The Time To Market.

Your to-do list probably has a to-do list. You are running non-stop all day and you might be surviving off fast food, sugar, and caffeine. I see you. Busting your tail trying to hold it all together, wishing for the day when things weren’t so busy. Even when a day comes when you finally have a few hours to work on the business something happens. You have a mental breakdown, you don’t have the energy, or it just isn’t the day.

We all have 24 hours in a day yet there are people who are far more impactful. What do they have that I don’t? How can I make an impact like them? Maybe you’re wondering how these 7-figure companies that I talk about pull it off.

One 7-figure mama who I work with comes to mind. She lives at a dog kennel, runs a large dog walking business, homeschools her two sons, and takes regular vacations. I am in awe of her. The mental power it takes to accomplish all of that is inspiring.

But she doesn’t do it alone, she has teams that support her, the family, and the business. She also has incredible will power and determination to succeed! She could say she doesn’t have time to do everything but she makes the time.

I’m sure you could be checking something off of your to-do list now, but somehow you ended up here. 🙂 Maybe you feel like you haven’t spent all of your time well. You dream of having more time to learn something new, work on the business, or plan dinner.

Time is one of our most precious commodities. It almost always gets in the way of business owners working on marketing within their business.

Marketing time and money

Marketing Uses Resources And Money.

In addition to taking a lot of time – marketing also isn’t cheap. When you think about how much an hour of your time is worth ($50? $100?) and how many hours you can put towards marketing, it is costing you a lot. Not only in time (for things like finding a designer and a scheduling software to help…) but also to fund the designer and the software to help streamline your efforts.

If you are like me when I used to have my pet sitting company of 14 years, you would binge on creating marketing materials and then go stale for a long time. It was only when you were feeling creative or found a designer that new materials were created. Then you might regret hiring the designer because there goes lots of money out the window. $500.00+ each time it seems.

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have someone to help us schedule the marketing – but then that is all that they can do. They can’t create the campaigns and they don’t know how to do hashtag research. They take 3 times as long to do something that it would take you. It costs a lot of money to produce all the marketing efforts.

It Is Challenging To Be Creative When You Have No Brainpower.

You know exactly what I mean…. I hear it all the time “I am so burnt out” and you know what happens then? Good-bye all the cute marketing ideas you might have had to create a new program, event, design, etc.

When your brain isn’t functioning or you’re permanently running on cortisol and stress, there is nothing left to get creative and be inspired. Have you ever logged onto Facebook to see that it was “international dog day” and everyone is sharing pictures? Now you just feel down and out because you think “why didn’t I know it was national dog day?”

All these special days are starting to get out of control, don’t you think? BUT — it is a great talking point, and you are in the pet industry, so it does make sense for you to jump on the bandwagon.

Feeling the pressure to post something, and not having the time or software to create anything, you just end up sharing someone else’s “international dog day” content.

There. It’s done.

But is it really? The lack of time to plan, resources to create, and creativity to produce something have lead you to make the worst decision. Which is sharing someone else’s content, because it’s only helping them, not you.

Golf Clap. Bravo.

Gosh, This Is All Tough, Right?

Who the heck is looking out for you? Who is there to be creative for you? Know exactly what works in your dog walking or pet sitting business? Something where you don’t have to constantly be finding vendors, spending time mapping it all out and deciding when to post the content, or trying to figure out the best software to make things?

Oh, and then goes what? Instagram and Facebook changed their algorithm….. again!

I got news for you – it happens multiple times a year and just when you think you have “beat” the system, it changes. And now we are all back to square one.

But what if you had someone in your back pocket? Someone with their ear to the ground… breaking down every conference and announcement that Facebook and Instagram makes? Knowing some of the top marketers in the social media space? What if you knew someone who had a proven track record in generating hundreds of thousands of dollars from social media? What if I took all the guess work out for you – gave you videos, graphics, outlines, content calendars, coaching sessions, IG and FB stories, captions, cover videos, and so much more?

I’ve Got Your Back.

Did you know that I have a program called Better Marketing with Bella? Did you know that every. single. semester. the program changes because social media is always changing?

What worked on social media in January 2017 isn’t what is working right now.

Did you know that if you type “comment, share, or like” in your description, you will not be shown in the newsfeed? Do you know that in 2017 you could post a description and still be seen in the feed and now your best chance of being seen is video?

Do you know there is no one else in the industry creating white-label videos for people like you – who have pet sitting and dog walking businesses to use on their platforms? Videos that are interesting, don’t all look the same, and that have your colors, logo, and font on them? Yeah. It is huge!

Listen, for the lowest price EVER – we are opening the doors soon for Better Marketing with Bella. You can get one of the limited seats, but the doors will close soon and it won’t be an option until 2020 to join for the second half of the year.

Even if you are the tiniest bit interested, you should fill out the short application – this will be time well spent, with money that won’t break the bank, and creatives from professional designers that would cost you thousands of dollars a month if you wanted to hire them privately to just do your brand.

Better Marketing With Bella