March 2020

We’re here for you!

Due to the current health crisis, SBDC services including consulting, workshops, and panel-events, are being moved to online platforms. Please be assured that we remain committed to serving small businesses in Larimer County and are here to help, just while being sure to follow proper social-distancing protocol.

For up-to-date information on small business disaster preparedness and resources to help navigate this current situation, please visit the Larimer SBDC website.

Business Preparedness & Continuity

Business Preparedness & Continuity

Small Business and COVID 19: Business Preparedness vs. Freaking out

March 11, 2020

Aikta Marcoulier  –  Pikes Peak SBDC Executive Director

Do you remember how it felt after Waldo Canyon Fire, the Black Forest Fire, and the floods following our regional disasters? If you were a small business, you might still be feeling the after effects. Recovery takes a long time, especially in a community that relies on tourism.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency in response to the spread of COVID-19. “People who work in food, childcare, health care, education and hospitality industries can receive paid sick leave to miss work if they are experiencing flu-like systems so they can be tested for COVID-19 and be paid to take the days as they wait for test results”.

Currently there is not a process to assist business owners and their employees to help with wage replacement or other forms of relief but there are strong indicators that Washington and Denver are considering additional measures. The Larimer SBDC continues to work closely with the Larimer Workforce Center and SBDC Lead Center at the Office of Economic Development and International Trade and will provide the latest information.

Today, small businesses throughout Larimer County are starting to feel the affects of the Coronavirus. Face it, we’re a tourist town. While mostly indirect, it’s starting to hurt due to canceled travel plans. However, this time, there’s a local reaction as well. More of our local customers are choosing to stay home rather than go out to eat or shop, choosing delivery instead.

Although small business is hurting…it doesn’t have to hurt THAT bad. Don’t freak out, be prepared!

If you were a small business that was impacted by our fires in 2012 and 2013, and you’re still around, chances are, you’ve got the business continuity thing down. If so, call me…we need your help mentoring others!

If you don’t have it down, here’s some steps you need to take in preparations for ANY disaster…yes ANY downturn in conditions whether it be a fire, flood…burglary, recession, or in this case, public health crisis. The steps of business continuity planning include preparation, response, and recovery.

1. Prepare

  • What is the risk?
  • What are your mitigation steps to prevent the risk from affecting you?
  • What plan are you communicating with your employees?
  • What scenarios have you tested with response measures written in your plan?

2. Respond

  • What’s your timeline for each scenario?
  • What’s your communication platform for employees and customers?
  • What training have you put in place?

3. Recovery

  • Did your plan work?
  • What resources did you put in place to help?
  • What resources are available from the local to federal levels?

Here’s some immediate items you can do for steps one and two:

1. Look at your financials and cash flow.

How long can you “make it through” in case of a quarantine, lost wages, employee absenteeism (when you are paying for sick leave AND not bringing in revenue). What do you need to bridge the gap? Suggestion: Get a credit line approved now. You don’t have to use it. But you’ll have it when you need it.

2. Slash your overhead.

If you’re worried about losing customers or employees due to sickness, school closures or possible quarantines, cut the things you don’t HAVE to spend your money on.

3. Understand your insurance policy.

What does your insurance cover? What doesn’t it cover?

4. Look at your supply chains.

Are they diversified or are you relying on one source for your products? Supply chain management is essential in any global pandemic. Travel, workforce absenteeism, and financials will impact supply chains across the world. It’s important you have multiple providers of a resource that is the core of your business.

5. Do you have an incident response plan?

What do you have in place in case of a quarantine? Can your employees work from home? Can you sell online or deliver instead of staffing brick and mortar? What kind of technology can be implemented to reach your customers? What communication is in place to your customers and employees?

6. Build capacity in the areas you will need it most!
  • Legal support
  • Financial support
  • Employee support
7. Practice Social Distancing!

Social distancing is a term applied certain action to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Here’s some action items you can implement quickly in your business:

  • Encourage staying more than three feet apart
  • Do not high five, shake hands or have close physical contact
  • Wash your hands more frequently and use hand sanitizer
  • Clean and disinfect your work and customer areas more frequently
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, or eyes

To develop your full business continuity plan, because you are an awesome business owner, download your free copy of our award winning business continuity guide shown below.

Now that you have your basics in place, how do you alter your plan to specifically answer the need of “COVID 19” preparedness? Check out our resources below!

As this latest state of emergency unfolds, we will keep you informed on the impact and resources for small businesses. A suggestion: If you are planning a large event, small event, or a gathering…try not cancel your events. The other small businesses you are working with depend on a cash flow too to survive. Rather, look at your contracts and see if you can reschedule the event for later in the year when this crisis subsides.

It may seem silly to have to continue to tell your employees to – wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, or ‘get out of my office!!!!’. But the truth is, habits are hard to break. Signs help as subtle reminders to your employees and customers to practice better personal hygiene – key to recovery from this illness, according to the public health experts.

Business, as in life, is a series of new and unexpected challenges nearly every day. At the Larimer SBDC, we know this and are here to help you plan, prepare and thrive in our small business community.

The Colorado SBDC Network is here to help businesses who have been affected by recent disasters in Colorado including response to COVID-19. Our consultants and partners including the SBA provide services to assist with disaster loan applications, long term planning, insurance navigation, physical and economic loss estimations, business preparedness and more.  REQUEST ASSISTANCE

Disaster Recovery and Continuity Guide

After the natural disasters in the fall of 2013, the Colorado SBDC disaster relief team worked with federal, state and local resources to produce a comprehensive guide to assist Colorado businesses in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters and emergencies. For an electronic copy of the guide, click the button below. To request a hard copy of this guide, please contact your local SBDC.  DOWNLOAD GUIDE

Covid-19 Updates

Colorado uses all available local, state, and federal resources to provide the latest support services and information sources in relation to current emergency situations. The following list is the most current list of websites that you may find helpful.

  • Larimer County Health Department  The Larimer County Health Department is keeping the public up to date on the latest via their website. Stay informed as small business owner and help stop the spread of rumors to reduce anxiety!
  • Larimer County Workforce Center The Larimer County Workforce Center is keeping tabs on any local, state, and federal resources to assist small businesses and their employees if they see themselves out of a job or without pay due to business economic loss or a quarantine. Currently no emergency resources are available. However, it’s a good time to utilize the workforce center for any upskilling of your current employees to other job duties as necessary.
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is a great resource to keep up on the latest throughout the state of Colorado.
  • Larimer SBDC  The Larimer SBDC provides a team of experts to provide free business consulting in financials, business continuity plans, marketing, legal, HR and numerous areas of support for your emergency plans.
  •  Know the facts about Coronavirus. Public Health is everyone’s responsibility.

Place signs up in your office that help stop the spread of germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a number of posters you may download and print for your office. Our favorites include these two:

Other Resources

Marketing & Tourism

Colorado is still open for business, and residents and visitors are encouraged to continue operating as normal.

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