Small business owners today have more outside influences working against their success than for it. As the COVID-19 pandemic rates rise and fall, so do local and state laws governing business capacity and safety measures. Here are three resources to consider implementing that might help your business survive and even thrive.
The North Texas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offers free, confidential one-on-one business development consulting, whether your business is new or established. There are 11 centers, and business owners can find the nearest location by visiting the website: ntsbdc.org/ and inputting a ZIP code. Partnering with the Small Business Administration and the State of Texas, the SBDC offers no-fee workshops and seminars that include increasing profits, taxes, and accounting, hiring and managing employees, and many additional resources.
Marta Frey, director of the Collin SBDC in Plano, said, "Our team is here to help facilitate small business recovery efforts and foster growth. We are former and current business operators with real experience to assist owners in Collin and Rockwall counties compete and win.”
The Small Business Administration awarded CARES Act federal funding to SBDC to facilitate paid consultants and training to area small businesses. "The Collin CARES program has five components: compete, advance, recover, elevate, and succeed. Beginning in January 2021, free seminars that are open to the public will get more resources into the community. Small businesses will then be able to complete a CARES application to the SBDC for help placing special resources," Frey stated. For more information, see collinsbdc.com.
There is useful support to be found in groups. Industry trade associations have missions to help members be informed about news and opportunities. Most groups charge a membership fee, and with it comes up-to-date specific industry trends, mentor-colleague relationships and trade discounts.
For example, the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) has many materials on its website: txrestaurant.org. Dues start at $300 per year and can increase depending on the number of stores and volume. One benefit included in TRA membership is partnering with other smaller operators to buy in discounted bulk from large restaurant suppliers. Cost savings like this often far outweigh a membership fee.
Currently, the TRA home page banner highlights a weekly update to the ‘Coronavirus Guidance Resource Page.’ Up-to-date targeted news specific to the restaurant industry offers time savings and the information needed to make effective decisions.
Hope is not a successful business strategy when monthly invoices are due and a cash flow problem exists. A viable small business may need to restructure debt and reduce expenses. This year, new bankruptcy laws have gone into effect, making filing a Chapter 11 reorganization plan less complicated and less expensive for small business debtors.
Attorneys Lei Lei Wang Ekvall and Timothy Evanston addressed the Small Business Recovery Act for the American Bar Association online edition of Business Law Today in February 2020. “The recently enacted Small Business Reorganization Act endeavors to strike a balance between Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcies for small-business debtors. The act lowers costs and streamlines the plan confirmation process to enable small businesses better to survive bankruptcy and retain control of its operations," they said.
Consulting a licensed attorney about a business bankruptcy is often free. Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas offers low-fee assistance and information. See their website: lanwt.org.
Small business owners need not isolate themselves during this challenging time. Reaching out to community resources, trade associations and attorneys for advice not only demonstrates a willingness to grow and evolve, but these actions also create better business practices. The road to success can come from new and different pathways.