Empowering People
& Revitalizing the Community

Minding My Own Business: COVID-19 Resources for Your Business

Posted on 3/25/2021 by EDTP Coordinator in LAEDA News

Camden, NJ- On Tuesday, March 23, 2021 LAEDA WBC along with the Southern NJ chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. hosted a resourceful event for COVID-19 resources for small businesses. The event titled, “Minding My Own Business: COVID-19 Resources for Your Business,” brought together people from different groups, different business industries and in different stages of their entrepreneurial journey for a discussion filled with information and resources to help entrepreneurs facing the everyday challenges of COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this workshop, sponsored by Wells Fargo, was to assist business owners with finding COVID-19 resources. Whether it’s the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Loan forgiveness or the upcoming Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) the workshop offered more information about ways to manage business risk and crisis.

The evening began with a welcome from the President of the southern NJ chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. (NCBW SNJ). “Our agenda is to help small business owners to survive during this time, especially as we face the era of COVID-19,” Dr. Marguerite Hall stated.

Next, Cathy Johnson, Co-Chair of NCBW SNJ Economic Empowerment committee, explained about the comprehensive workshops and resources that they offer to help small businesses and entrepreneurs, “Our economic programs focus on financial literacy, family wealth building, and entrepreneurship. NCBW SNJ believe in helping entrepreneurs in all areas to build a path to economic empowerment.”

Then, Jamila Powell, Program Manager of the Women’s Business Center at LAEDA continued the night with the introductions of all participants and giving background information about LAEDA and its role in helping entrepreneurs and communities they serves. “We are a small business resource and we work with our resource partners to see what is available for small business owners to assist them with surviving the impacts of this pandemic. We always seek to help businesses start and thrive in low-to-moderate income communities since they are often hit hardest by economic downturn or crisis".

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our lives in many different ways, entrepreneurs are becoming more innovative, creative and even changing some of their products and or services. So to be a successful during COVID-19, entrepreneurs must put the following into their toolkit: Establishing Health and Safety Protocols for Your Business, Building Employee and Customer Confidence, Developing a Plan to Attract Previous/ New Customers and Finding Resources for Reopening Your Business.

Information and resources are all vital to have in the palms of entrepreneurs' hands whether their business is still closed or in the process of starting to reopen because of impacts of COVID-19. Jamila opened up the platform for discussion of what entrepreneurs' concerns were about reopening and everyone touched upon the following aspects and/or indicators: Emotional, Physical Space, Health, Legal and Financial. Jamila addressed how business owners can create a plan of action to safeguard their physical space. Since the road ahead will look different as small businesses continue to reopen, so many businesses will need to be aware of the different guidelines for their state and industry along with taking into account that suppliers, employees, and customers will be impacted in plentiful ways. No matter the business or industry, businesses can use a valuable resource called CDC Decision Tree. This is a helpful tool that guides entrepreneurs in meeting safeguards first before opening the doors of the business to the public. These safeguards include:

• Promote healthy hygiene practices
• Intensify cleaning and disinfection
• Encourage social distancing
• Consider modifying travel and commuting practices
• Train all employees on health and safety protocols
• Implement procedures to check for signs and symptoms of employees daily upon arrival
• Encourage sick employees to say home and get better
• Regularly communicate and monitor developments with local authorities, employees and consult with local health authorities if there are cases in the facility or increase in cases in the local area

All of these steps are vital to take on a daily basis when going back into the doors of one’s business and recapturing employees and customers. Take the light at the end of the tunnel as an example...  One won’t go inside the dark tunnel without a flashlight or a guide or the knowledge to reach the light at the end, right? This is the same way one MUST always and CONTINUOSYLY monitor things and make sure that every individual is safe and whether the doors are open physically or virtually, communication along with transparency is a must.

This all begins with doing a risk analysis of your business by accounting for diferrnt types of risks including: Financial, Operational, Compliance, Security, and Strategic. Once you have analyzed those risks, you must put a plan of action into place so that you can be prepared in times of disaster and/ or economic crisis. A developed and finished plan is not enough... Once this is done one MUST AND OUGHT TO market the business' safety initiatives so that customers know you are working to keep them safe.

Much in the same way you should keep customers safe, business owners must also ensure they keep their employees saftey in mind. Denise Smith, owner of HRthePartner spoke about employer-employee relations during the pandemic.  “I wanted to bring my knowledge, my experiences, and passion to level the small business owners because they do not get the opportunity to experience Human Resources, Smith stated.  “Without employees your business will not run efficiently and without guidelines and policies your business cannot thrive. Also, having a written handbook as a guide to help your employees comply and understand exactly what you expect them to carry out,” Ms. Smith continued.

Later, Anthony Martinez, Senior Small Business Liaison Officer in Small Business Resources in NJ spoke about best practices when applying for pandemic relief grants. “Read the instructions and read the instructions carefully, get all of your supporting documents ready, preregister if necessary and visit the NJEDA website periodically because the information there changes constantly.”

In conclusion, do not fight the battles; challenges and/or impacts of COVID-19 without the following must have items in your business owner toolkit:

• Small Business Resources NJ Business Info Hub (Coronavirus/COVID-19 Information for New Jersey Businesses) cv.business.nj.gov
• Emergency Funding Resources: EIN (Employer Identification Number, Federal Tax ID Number), Legal Business Name (as it appears on business registration), NAICS Code (Industry code, find yours at www.naics.com), 2019 Business Tax Return (or schedule C from Personal Tax Return), 2020 Monthly Gross Sales (total sales before expenses) and Number of employees and independent contractors (W-2, 1099-MISC)
• Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) (COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application) covid19relief.sba.gov
• Federal Government www.coronavirus.gov
• Center for Disease Control (CDC): www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-small-business.htm
• National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health: www.cdc.gov/niosh/index.htm
• Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
• National Safety Council: https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/safety-topics/coronavirus
• Denise A. Smith- Founder of HR The Partner www.hrthepartner.com
• Anthony Martinez- Small Business Resources in NJ www.njeda.com and http://covid19.nj.gov and Number for Division of Revenue is 609-292-9292

Now that entrepreneurs have these valuable items, tools and resources in their business owner toolkit, they are ready to walk down the road of success.

Any additional questions and or concerns? Take advantage of the information and the reach out to LAEDA because we are here to HELP as Much or Little as you want.

LAEDA is available remotely through email, phone, and/ or video conferencing. Please call us at (856) 338-1177 or visit our website at www.laeda.com to learn more about our programs, services, and small business resources.