COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, and small businesses, solopreneurs, and freelancers are some of the most affected. Government relief programs have already given hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, but funds are evaporating faster than they can be approved—indicating the unfathomable magnitude of the revenue lost for our community.
Last month, Congress approved $349 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, a portion of the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) designed to keep small businesses afloat with forgivable loans. On April 16, these funds had been depleted, in part because some large organizations have managed to secure multi-million dollar loans, based on a few rules that were written into the CARES Act. This left tens of thousands of struggling small businesses and freelancers left to wonder—what now?
Thankfully, on April 21st, the Senate approved $310 billion more for PPP loans, and the House passed the second PPP tranche on April 24th. We passionately hope that most (if not all) of it will be allocated to small businesses in need.
The Azlo community is comprised of small businesses and small business owners. All of our bloggers are freelancers. And quite a few members of our team used to or currently run their own businesses and side hustles (which is why we genuinely empathize with our clients).
We are dedicated to connecting our customers with funding options. All of the revenue we generate through our PPP loan referral programs will be donated to GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief Fund to help our community weather this economic storm.
“The team at Azlo is made up of founders, entrepreneurs, and small business owners,” says Cameron Peake, CEO of Azlo. “We know how important cash is to running your business—and how accessing it can be even more stressful during times of crisis. That’s why we’re proud to donate all proceeds we receive from PPP referrals directly to small businesses in need.”
If you happen to be one of the lucky businesses and were relatively untouched by the pandemic, and you’re in a position to do so, our small business community needs your help, too. Here’s what you can do:
Donate to the Small Business Relief Fund
GoFundMe has organized a Small Business Relief Fund that has raised $2.5 million at the time of this writing, which will be able to help thousands of small operations keep the lights on until Congress authorizes more relief spending.
Hire a freelancer
People are really hurting for work right now. In the past month, over 20 million people across the country have filed for unemployment, and more are expected to follow. Over 26 million people filed for unemployment, according to the US Department of Labor.
If you need and can afford the part-time help, consider the possibility of hiring someone freelance to help you pivot your business or catch up on work that was neglected prior to the quarantine. If you’ve never worked with freelancers before, have an excess of work and the means to pay for it, here are some options. You can post a call for proposals on LinkedIn ProFinder, Upwork, and Fiverr, to name just a few. Or better yet, reach out to your network—it’s highly likely that someone you’re already connected to will be looking for work.
Many businesses will only be able to thrive if they adopt more nimble operations and structures that freelancers are used to thriving in. Similarly, with growing proof of how productive remote work can be amid these stay at home orders, many experts are predicting freelance work will become even more prevalent in the coming months and years as a direct result of this economic downturn.
Buy a gift card
Many businesses have had to suspend all operations as a result of social distancing and stay at home orders.
One of the best ways to support these companies and help them stick around is to buy gift cards from them, so you can utilize their services once things return to normal (and they will). Gift cards have long made great presents and stocking stuffers for the people you love, but in a poetic turn of events, they could truly be a gift to the company selling them.
You may not be able to comb the store racks for new styles, or do any casual shopping, but online retail is booming right now. That local store you used to love to stop in and browse may not have had an online portal before, but chances are it does now.
If you’re in a position to do so, by all means continue to be a consumer, and know that the purchases you’re making now are truly a lifeline to small operations who desperately need revenue. Sites like Etsy can even help you find local gems you haven’t stumbled upon in person yet, as well as other sellers from around the world.
If you have not been a part of your local business community before, now is the time to join. Whether it’s connecting to owners of the other shops on the same block as you, or reaching out to others in your industry, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring your heads together to figure out how you can look out for each other.
Form mastermind groups and be honest about the resources you have and the protocols you follow. Maybe you can learn ways to lower your operating costs so any financial aid you get right now can stretch further and longer. Maybe you’ll have a unique and valuable service you can offer to other businesses in your community. Or maybe you can hire someone else in your vicinity as a freelancer.
Look for every opportunity you can to connect with your business community. And if you don’t see any existing options, it’s time to reach out and create one.
If you are interested in learning more about our programs, log into your Azlo account and look for the COVID-19 lending options link. And, of course, we’re here to help with any questions. You can reach us at 844-295-6466 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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