August 16, 2022

SBA wants to partner with small businesses

By Vercie Lark, Region 7 Great Plains Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

Recently in Seattle, SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman noted, “President Biden’s successful leadership has guided our economy from high levels of pandemic job loss to the strongest job recovery in history, with all private sector jobs now fully recovered.”

There is no doubt America is doing better economically than most countries. The SBA disbursed approximately $813.7 billion to small businesses in a myriad of loans and grants to ensure small businesses and non-profits survived through the COVID 19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen this record economic recovery, the strongest economic growth in 40 years, but businesses are still feeling the sting of inflation,” Guzman said, “so a lot of them have had to pivot their models or just adapt.”

Again, pivoting and adapting to overcome today’s economic uncertainty deserve a second look.

What does it mean to pivot your business model? It usually means revamping how your business operates, entering new markets, or learning new methods of delivering your products or services.

Most of us recognize how restaurants “pivoted” during the COVID 19 pandemic. Many switched to online ordering, delivery, and pickup, further readjusting employee duties to packaging and delivery. Some later found these services were continuing to increase their customer base and are keeping them. Others may determine that is not where the bulk of their customers are.

What can small businesses do to adapt?

First and foremost, find new ways to meet more customers where they are! This is essential to maintaining and growing sales, the life blood of every small business. Every company should continually reassess customer needs, attitudes, where they are located, and what types of interaction they prefer. Then they should increase, rather than decrease, marketing to these customers.

Second, while raising prices has been a common adaptation, it can be difficult to know how much to raise prices and still stay competitive. New business startups are at an all-time high and may be competing with you. Again, continual reassessment is needed.

Third, remember that cashflow and liquidity are essential to your survival during times of uncertainty. Consider applying one or more of the following steps that helped my business survive as a BP Gas station and convenience store owner during difficult economic times:

〈 Pare back ordering or discount slow-moving inventory to generate increased cash flow and if possible, bank the savings to provide more liquidity.

〈 Join or form small business consortiums in your industry to get better discounts for purchases of wholesale goods and other services.

〈 Consider raising prices only for those items that are in high demand (hot sellers) - those your clients love of can’t do without.

〈 Review your firms’ financials weekly to eliminate non-essential expenses to free up cash.

〈 Increase your credit. Consider short term loans (3-5 year) to increase working capital can help you whether the storm. This is where SBA lending products may be able to help you.

Building businesses remains at the heart of American prosperity and the SBA wants to partner with small businesses as they Build America and ensure their customers Buy American. I encourage you to contact us to see how the SBA can multiply your chances for success. Nearby SBA offices and resource partners can be found by typing your zip code into the SBA’s new Local Assistance LookUp Tool at https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance.

Vercie Lark is the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration SBA Region 7 covering the states of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.