Sara Vescio is experiencing firsthand the thirst that business owners have for knowledge of the federal economic stimulus.
From the Paycheck Protection Program to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan initiative, almost every small- and medium-sized business across the U.S. is considering options, working through applications and waiting for money.
Vescio, executive director of the Women’s Business Center at Canisius College, says that most inbound inquiries have distinctive, detailed needs. Vescio is directing people to a detailed list of resources on the WBC website and also hosting Wednesday morning webinars that are open to the public.
In the meantime, this is what she’s telling worried business owners.
You said your Wednesday morning Zoom meetings are full of knowledge exchange and brainstorming. What’s your main message for business owners?
We’re focused on how they can keep moving and not only survive but also thrive during this time. A lot of women business owners originally started businesses by seeing an opportunity gap in the community. So one of the positive messages I share is that they need to hone into the entrepreneurial mindset that got them here.
We have a client who owns a small retail shop on Grand Island. She started making hand sanitizer and packing organizing products, then marketing that to people in the health-care industry. Then she started donating to healthcare providers for every sale that she made. So she recognized a gap and thought about how she could fill it.
So the psychology of the situation is important.
If you tune into the news regularly, there’s so much that can bog you down and get you into a fear space, or hold you up from mining your creativity. You need to shut that off and hone into your inner entrepreneurial spirit. Get back to finding where the gaps, needs and opportunities are. Then you can start providing that solution.
How do people stay focused on the long-term health of their businesses when the immediate situation is so drastic?
I think at first, so many of us thought this pause was temporary and that we’d be back to our operations in a few weeks. It’s very obvious that’s not the case. We want to keep getting the message out that it’s a personal decision to stop operating. But if you want to operate, then you want to keep connecting. Keep connecting to your clientele. This is an opportunity to maybe become closer to them.
I very much believe the long-term looks different than it did when Covid-19 hit. I don’t think business is going to go back to the way it was. We need to have an open mind and be adaptive to figure out how we can stay relevant now and relevant into the future.