We are halfway through the summer season here in Northern Michigan, where many of our local businesses typically generate most of their revenue.
It has been an interesting season, to say the least. Many businesses have found themselves in unchartered waters. When was the last time we had a pandemic? Certainly not in most of our local businesses’ lifetimes.
As a banker and a SCORE mentor, I have been able to talk to and listen to the challenges that most of our businesses have been faced with. I have seen some great creativity, hard work and a community come together to try to do their best to support each other. Our local businesses have remained upbeat and are seemingly pretty busy. The foot traffic doesn’t seem any different from any other “normal” summer season. There are some struggles with things we cannot change — having enough employees, getting enough merchandise due to manufacturing issues and keeping up with COVID-19 executive orders that restrict the capacity of of customers you can safely provide services to — that have indeed made things difficult. On the bright side, right now we are all busy and there are a ton of places we can go to get help if needed.
Keep in contact with your banker. If you don’t have a relationship with your banker, now is a great time to build that relationship. A good banker will know your business and keep you in the loop on different bank and government programs that may help your business during uncertain times.
Your local chamber of commerce is doing all it can to keep everyone aware of changes in executive orders and regulations, offering Zoom seminars on “hot topics” and member checkins, and can also provide some cost-effective ways to advertise your business. Achamber of commerce is also a great resource on additional funding sources that pop up. If you are reading this before Aug. 5, check out the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Michigan Small Business Restart Program. It offers grants of up to $20,000 to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The “Paycheck Protection Program” (PPP) available via the U.S. Small Business Administration is almost over (Aug. 5), but the new “HEALS” act is talking about a new PPP that will be more targeted to specific industries that have lost more than 50 percent of their revenue. The “Economic Injury Disaster Loan” (EIDL) is also still taking applications, although the grant portion has run out. The EIDL is a low-interest loan, directly through the SBA, that provides a 3.75 percent fixed interest rate for a 30-year term loan (2.75 percent for nonprofits). These funds can be used for working capital such as inventory, fixed debt payments, rent, utilities and payroll (as long as those same funds weren’t used for the PPP).
Via SCORE, get free and confidential telephone and email mentoring from local entrepreneurs and business people for any number of issues you may want to discuss. Just go to email@example.com or call (231) 347-4150.
Of course there are also our friends, family and our customers, too. They can all help! Remaining positive, keeping our heads up, keeping the creative juices flowing and the love of what we all respectively do, is the key to our continued success. Stay safe and have a great rest of the summer business season.
The “Scoring in Business” columns provided by area SCORE mentors appear the first and third Tuesdays of each month in the News-Review.