The coronavirus pandemic ushered in government initiatives designed to help keep the economy afloat, and new research shows small businesses are taking advantage.
Many small businesses have had to maneuver through mandatory shutdowns and customer activity declines since the COVID-19 outbreak began. SCORE, a network of volunteer small business mentors, surveyed business owners to see how they’re adapting and keeping open throughout the crisis.
Companies seeking infusions of cash
One initiative that has sparked activity among small business owners is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides funding to help businesses keep employees on their payroll. A majority of respondents (55%) said they’ve applied for PPP loans. Of those who did, more than three-fourths (78%) received some funding. Specifically:
- 65% received the full amount they requested
- 13% received a portion of what they requested
Businesses — particularly those that are more established — have also looked to their vendors and creditors for help. For example, as of June, 44% had been able to delay loan payments, while 26% had received more favorable payment terms from their vendors.
Some small businesses have even looked to their communities for help, as 12% said they’ve received financial support though crowdfunding or other requests.
Businesses look to staffing changes to save
Despite the financial help, some businesses have had to take drastic measures to stay afloat, perhaps expecting revenue to drop for a while. Since March, nearly half (47%) have had to fire, lay off or furlough workers, but half of them hope to hire again in a year. Specifically:
- 37% of small businesses have furloughed or laid off employees temporarily
- 31% have cut employee hours or pay
- 10% have fired employees
An earlier survey also found that some small businesses have paused hiring.
Among respondents to the SCORE survey, about a third of small businesses (34%) have made no major changes since the pandemic, while 9% have even hired new employees.
Many businesses are also making changes to their operating procedures in response to COVID-19. Among the more established businesses:
- 43% have communicated regularly with customers about COVID-19
- 25% have added telephone appointments
- 24% have adjusted their business model
- 23% have added new services and products
- 20% have made enhancements to online ordering
- 19% have implemented more delivery and pickup options
In addition, many businesses are taking pains to protect their employees from potential transmission of the coronavirus. Specifically:
- 57% have provided personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves
- 40% have let employees work remotely
- 25% have plans for employee health screenings
- 25% have staggered employee schedules