COVID-19 is a global pandemic affecting businesses around the world. We understand this is a challenging time for everyone, but in the spirit of #AloneTogether here are some resources available to help your small business. These things aren't directly related to Empower Ideas or even to digital marketing, but we figured we would appreciate a consolidated list of links like this, so we hope you find it helpful as well. Let's get through this! 🧡
Apply for the SBA Forgivable Loan
Small businesses and freelancers can apply for the "SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program," which is a forgivable loan of up to $10,000. According to the SBA, "Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application and this loan advance will not have to be repaid."
Here is the application link to the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan Application.
Here is a 'how to' video I found that can take you through the application process.
I hope this helps. It looks like there will only be so many forgivable loans that will be issued out. Apply quickly if you are in need.
Free Advertising Credits
Google and Facebook are offering millions of dollars in free advertising credits to small businesses struggling from COVID-19. As we've been saying, this is not the time to stop talking to your customers.
Google reports that their credits will be available soon for anyone that has spent any amount of money on Google Ads in the last 12 months. A total of $340 million will be available, and there's no need to apply. Keep an eye on your Google Ads account for a notification that will appear within the next couple of months when the credits are available to you. They will be valid through the end of 2020. Here's Google's blog article on the topic.
Facebook is offering $100 million in grants and ad credits to up to 30,000 businesses. The only requirement is to opt in to email updates to get a notification of when they roll the program out. Those 30,000 slots will likely go quickly! Opt in and see further details here.
All of these credits also stack with the $1,000 ad credit offer that every Empower Ideas client is eligible for when you let us manage your ads. Your credits will go even further when you have experts managing them! To learn more about this credit, click here to set up an appointment with us. We can even set up a performance pricing plan, meaning that you only pay us when we effectively send leads, traffic, or conversions to your website.
Tips for Work From Home Success
Working from home is a new adjustment for many people. Even if you've worked from home for years, it can feel different when you're forced to stay in your house and can't take a break or visit the coffee shop for a couple of hours. With that in mind, we've compiled a few work from home tips to help you stay productive and sane:
- Find a quiet place to work.
This is critical if you're joining video calls for meetings or trying to knock some items off your to-do list. Working in your living room or kitchen is a bad idea if other members of your household share the space. Do your best to find a quiet corner if you don't have a separate room available and consider partitioning it off with a curtain or rearranging the furniture so it feels like your "office."
- Have fast and reliable wi-fi.
Don't settle for the cheap stuff. If you don't already have speedy internet service, consider upgrading your package during the quarantine. Faster internet will help your video calls be smoother and easier to understand and will help your computer connect to VPN faster when your patience may be thin. It will also help ensure the kids can enjoy their Netflix Party in the next room while you're still productive.
- Stay in touch with the team.
It's important to maintain watercooler conversation with your coworkers between meetings and just to demonstrate that you're online and diligently working. Use whatever team collaboration tool your organization uses, such as Slack or Teams, and suggest that your team adopt one if you haven't already.
- Stay in touch with your friends.
If your entire life is work, and that is happening inside of your house, you don't really ever get a break. This is why it's essential to keep in contact with the outside world. Plan regular calls or video sessions, or use some of the many online virtual activity tools that are suddenly free. For example, take a virtual yoga class together, play an online board game, or just have a video call happy hour.
- Set boundaries.
Related to the previous point, the most common hazard of working from home is working too much, not too little. Part of the way employees recognize it's the end of the day in the office is that we see others packing up and saying goodbye, and then we physically leave. None of that happens at home and if we manage to get onto a productive roll, it's easy to keep working right into 7 or 8 pm. While it's important to be available and talk to your team during work hours, it's equally important to shut down when you're done. You could even put your computer into your bag or car to help your body recognize that part of the day is finished.
- Be effective with remote meetings.
Just like you would if you were meeting in person, be sure to concentrate on the meeting at hand. Mute notifications and close applications that are unnecessary distractions. If you're leading the meeting, hand out an outline just as you might in person. It's especially important to take and distribute notes when everyone is virtual, since it can be difficult to share body language around agreement or understanding. Additionally, remember that it can be hard to interject on online meetings, so go around the room and ask everyone for feedback by name during the meeting.
When you're in the office, you stand up and physically leave your desk at lunch or when you take a break. If someone sends you a message, you might not answer right away because you're at lunch, or you might not answer because you're deep in flow state. Your boss can plainly see that if he walks past your workspace in the office, but that's not so online. Use your IM program's status feature to communicate these statuses throughout the day.
How are brick and mortar businesses pivoting to online?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Businesses around the world are being forced into a new reality of doing business online. Adapt, and survive, if not thrive. Here's how some Chicagoland brick-and-mortar companies have made the pivot.