The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled our economy nationwide and small businesses are among the most heavily affected by this crisis. Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center is a free resource that area small businesses can count on for practical advice and counseling. Jerry Coleman is the director of our Small Business Center. I have asked him to provide a few thoughts on what small businesses can do now to help them throughout this troubling time.
Jerry Coleman – Director, Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center
The coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for business owners, individuals, and families throughout our community. We understand that many small businesses are beyond stressed. They are experiencing a dramatic decrease in revenues, compounded by their concern for employees’ health and financial wellbeing, the interruption of supply chains, and the domino effect of numerous other business challenges nationwide.
At the Cape Fear Community College Small Business Center, we are closely monitoring the ever-changing situation with COVID-19 and responding as new information becomes available. Our goal is to serve our area small businesses by providing the information and guidance small businesses need to prepare and respond to the situation as it continues to unfold. Our hope is that our small business owners are able to sustain their businesses during this financially, mentally and physically stressful time. Here are a few operational recommendations to consider:
- Keep Cash Flowing: Encourage customers to purchase gift cards or future services to keep cash flowing. Find ways to preserve on-hand cash to weather these lean times; consider suspending expansion initiatives or larger investments until markets stabilize.
- Start a Conversation with Your Bank and or Seek Additional Sources of Capital: Early communication with your lender may help secure financing opportunities now, which small businesses can take advantage of later. Lines of Credit, SBA Disaster Assistance Loans, etc., may all be possibilities. To begin the process, collect your past year's tax returns and develop business and personal financial statement.
- Communication: During this crisis, customers and employees will likely receive conflicting information from a variety of sources and feel anxious or confused. Be sure to communicate safety and general policies promptly, clearly, and in a balanced manner. Communicate contextual information and the reasoning behind policies to deepen understanding and operational direction.
- Inventory Management Practices: Evaluate your inventory to determine which products can be turned over quickly. Smaller margins may be more important in the short term to keep cash moving. This evaluation takes careful planning so as not to negatively affect long-term profit.
- Re-Evaluate Your Break-Even: As markets have shifted so has demand. Review to better gauge inventory and financing requirements.
- Allow for Remote Work Where Feasible: Set expectations and communicate requirements to employees. Encourage sick employees to stay home and follow CDC/Federal/State recommendations for safety.
To help you weather this economic storm, the Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center offers a wide variety of information and education resources that are available on our website at https://cfcc.edu/small-business-center/
We are available to speak with small business owners by phone or video conference: to help with:
- General business guidance
- Assessing the economic impact on your business
- Strategies for scaling your business operations
- Analyzing break-even and cash flow
- Reviewing financial obligations and planning communications with creditors
- Loan package preparation and information on funding sources
- Referrals to relevant resources
To schedule an appointment, call us at (910) 362-7216 or complete a request for counseling by visiting our website: cfcc.edu/small-business-center/
During this crisis, the Small Business Center will continue to provide educational resources for small businesses by providing seminars online that you can take advantage of while we continue to practice social distancing. We will resume our in-person training once conditions improve. To register for any of our webinars visit our listing of CFCC SBC Spring Webinars
In addition, we have developed a growing list of business support resources for small businesses. New information is added to our Business Continuity and Disaster Relief page
The health, safety and prosperity of our community is of the utmost importance to us. We stand ready to support area small businesses as we all contend with the disruption of the coronavirus in our communities.
Jim Morton became President of Cape Fear Community College in April 2018. Prior to becoming President, Mr. Morton served as Executive Vice President and as Vice President of Business and Financial Services at CFCC. Cape Fear Community College is the 6th largest community college of the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.