The novel coronavirus COVID-19 that began sweeping across the globe in late 2019 has had a major impact on all components of daily life. From school closures to virtually shared holidays to lost revenue, the pandemic has made 2020 a challenging year.
The pandemic has forced many business owners to rethink their longstanding business practices. Verizon Business released findings from its Small Business Recovery Survey in September 2020 that revealed the impact small business owners and decision makers feel the pandemic has had on their businesses. Fifty-five percent of small businesses surveyed have concerns about staying afloat financially with regulations that limit business capacity. In addition, 67 percent of small businesses feel their financial security has been negatively affected, but 72 percent are optimistic they will be able to stay open at least six months or more.
One way small businesses may be able to survive and thrive is with the help of volunteers. The following are ways volunteers can help small businesses in an uncertain time.
Volunteer as a mentor. Business coaches lend their time and expertise to help businesses establish and achieve their goals. Coaches can work with small business owners to discuss the challenges they face and give specialized guidance to help grow their businesses. Coaches typically work for a fee, but volunteers can offer assistance at no charge to help businesses get back on solid footing.
Strengthen a web presence. A strong internet presence is essential for small businesses. BrightLocal, a marketing firm that connects with local businesses, says 90 percent of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year. Those knowledgeable in search engine optimization, website building, online marketing, or even social media maintenance can volunteer their services with a local business to help garner online attention that can bring in customers.
Use networking connections. It won’t take much effort to speak kindly about a small business to others and use networking connections to spread the word about a particular local firm. Spend a few hours each month sharing positive feedback about a company and getting their name out to others.
Support the vulnerable and those in need. Even while small businesses have been floundering, many are still engaging in community efforts. Restaurants have donated meals to the elderly or less fortunate. Shuttered fitness centers have repurposed space to provide chaperoned virtual learning centers for students whose parents work and cannot stay home during the school day. Volunteers can work with small businesses to facilitate services such as these, including delivering food or products, checking on those who are self-isolating, monitoring students, or helping to set up connections between businesses and those in need.
Fill in as a temporary employee. As coronavirus affects employees, they may need to stay home to care for relatives or children, or they may need to self-quarantine after exposure to the virus. Being without one or two employees can tax a small business. Having volunteers ready to fill in at a moment’s notice can help businesses overcome this obstacle.