Small businesses have been especially hit hard during the pandemic—in a March 2020 survey of 5,800 small business owners published in PNAS, only 47 percent of respondents believed they would be around by the end of the year.
People are rallying to aid small businesses through this tough season, and in many cases larger corporations are leading the charge. They are doing this by offering different types of assistance to small businesses, while also highlighting the need for everyone to support them. Making this investment also drives engagement and loyalty from small business customers and consumers who won't forget who helped them during a very difficult time.
Encouraging Shopping Small
Shortly after the pandemic broke, American Express encouraged their card members to shop at small businesses. They provided an incentive where buyers received a $5 credit for every $10 spent at a small business using their card. The offer could be used up to 10 times. They have also set up a resource center called Stand for Small, which is a partnership of more than 40 companies across multiple industries to provide meaningful support to small businesses including tips, tools and other discounts for small business owners.
In July, FedEx launched Big Days of Small, a two day shopping event aimed at helping small businesses. It featured a variety of small businesses, including winners or finalists from the Small Business Grant Contest and offered a variety of exclusive deals from small businesses to try to increase their sales.
Both Google and Facebook are offering small businesses who advertise with them relief in the form of ad credits. Google has allocated $340 million worth of account credits and grants through 2020 for small-business owners. Facebook will make available $100 million in both ad credits and cash grants to support up to 30,000 small businesses across 30 countries.
Helping With Operations
Yahoo! is offering a free website, domain and five email addresses for startup entrepreneurs with its #PayItForward campaign.
Dell Technologies is helping owners preserve much-needed capital by offering zero percent interest and up to 180 day payment deferral on new equipment purchases.
Zoho Corporation is giving away Remotely, a free suite of 11 business applications designed to help companies of all sizes transition to remote work. They're also offering current customers free access to their existing Zoho application subscriptions through their Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Program (ESAP).
Realizing that small business need help sourcing supplies and selling their products, NetSuite set up a Community Exchange that is available to more than 20,000 of their customers and 500 partners. Businesses can list items they have available, register their needs or manage requests from other businesses. Customers determine whether they are donating or charging for their products.
This assistance from large companies during a very difficult time will get increased loyalty from their small business customers who will not forget who helped them during their most difficult times.
With their companies being closed or restricted from full operations by local government restrictions, many small-business owners have limited resources to pay their rent. Amazon established a Neighborhood Relief Fund, which has disbursed over $11 million in cash grants and free rent to more than 900 small businesses.
During the pandemic, Sierra Nevada, a top craft brewery established a program to buy back their beer from small businesses that were stuck with supplies they bought but wouldn't be able to sell during the lockdown.
Retail small businesses have especially been hit hard by the pandemic. Brian Capstick at Baceline Investments owns 80 shopping centers across the Midwest which are comprised of 750 small companies. They have worked hard to keep these companies solvent during the pandemic by helping them apply for PPP loans.
Baceline has given them resources to market their businesses (like “we’re open” signs) and support their shift in business strategies (like take out and drive-throughs). They have also put pandemic safeguards in place at their properties at no additional cost to small-business owners, and they've abated tenants' rent and, in some cases, cleared their debts.
Encouraging Healthy Small-Business Employees
Other large companies are focusing on the health of small-business employees.
Along with not increasing rates on companies with less than 500 employees, MetLife is offering a bit of HR assistance.
"We are ... offering financial wellness and COVID holistic help to companies if they don’t have an Employee Assistance Program,” says Jessica Moser, the company's senior vice president, Small Business Solutions.
Zoho Corporation is helping small-business employees get back to work safely as states begin to reopen. They announced a program called BackToWork, which is a new application to help companies transition safely back into the workplace during the pandemic. The application hosts six modules, which are designed to address every concern involved in this process, including employee wellness and safe entry.
Large corporations' assistance has been a bright spot in the response to the pandemic. When small businesses comeback from these challenging economic times, so will the communities they support.
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