Helping America’s Entrepreneurs Get Back to Business
Now more than ever before, Americans are turning to online learning. The trend is especially true as small businesses begin to reopen after states lift Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions in the weeks and months ahead. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers free online courses that can help to guide you as you get back to business. Our online courses, housed in the SBA Learning Center, are tailored to specific subject areas and business stages. You can also supplement the knowledge you gain from these courses with other SBA resources – including virtual expert advice from SBA resource partners. Here are some of the online courses that you can leverage.
For entrepreneurs in the initial business planning phase, the SBA Learning Center can walk you through the basics of mapping out your strategy. First, take our How to Write A Business Plan course and learn to compile a thorough business plan that will serve as a roadmap for your small business journey. Supplement those planning efforts with courses like Competitive Advantage and Market Research, which will give you the tools to validate or beef up your business plan. Then, learn how to fund your business idea with courses like Financing Options for Small Businesses and Finding and Attracting Investors. Take this unprecedented time at home to carefully consider what your future business will look like in the current and future economy.
The SBA Learning Center also offers courses to help you get your business off the ground. If you’re at this business stage, consider taking Marketing 101 and Social Media Marketing to learn how to effectively promote your business and connect with promising leads. Courses like Introduction to Pricing and Sales: A Guide for the Small Business Owner will also help prime your business for success by empowering you to develop effective pricing and sales strategies. Connect with SBA resource partners remotely via phone or video chat to confirm that you’re on the right path and to get tailored, up-to-date advice on best practices for launching in the wake of COVID-19.
If you’re past the initial hump of launching your business, the SBA offers courses that will help you efficiently oversee day-to-day operations. For business owners who are looking to hire their first employee or grow their staff, the SBA Learning Center includes a course on Employee Recruitment and Retention. You may also want to take Understanding Your Customer to validate or build on your current marketing strategy. Beyond the Learning Center, we encourage business owners looking for tips on how to manage your business during COVID-19 to refer to CDC guidelines for how to protect your workforce.
If you’re looking to grow your business, take our course on the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program to find out if the program is a good fit for you. This program helps strong up-and-coming firms grow through mentor-provided business development assistance and helps them successfully compete for government contracts. Existing government contractors should review our guidance for federal contractors affected by COVID-19.
If you have been closed during COVID-19 and are thinking about reopening your business, the SBA and other federal agencies have online resources to help. This CDC tool outlines factors that business owners should take into consideration before reopening – such as whether your business is ready to establish employee health monitoring and implement recommended safety practices.
On top of taking health precautions, you will want to consider other aspects of your business that may be different when you reopen. For instance, you may need to rethink your supply chain. When your vendors and suppliers are local, and the disaster is widespread, you will all be in the same situation— struggling to recover. Put a disaster response plan in place to get key supplies from companies outside your area. You may also need to identify new ways to operate your business. For example, consider innovative options for your business space, like co-sharing space and resources with other businesses.
If you need help to offset the economic impact of COVID-19, check out these SBA programs:
[*Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)* |https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program-ppp] : Available through June 30, the PPP is an SBA-backed loan that helps small businesses and non-profits continue to pay their employees and cover other essential bills during the COVID-19 outbreak. [The PPP Flexibility Act|https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-newsroom/press-releases-media-advisories/joint-statement-sba-administrator-jovita-carranza-and-us-treasury-secretary-steven-t-mnuchin], passed this month, has extended the covered period for loan forgiveness to 24 weeks after the loan disbursement and lowered the amount of loan proceeds that must be used for payroll costs from 75% to 60%.
[*Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and EIDL Advances* |https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance] : The EIDL and EIDL Advance loans – which became available again to all eligible applicants earlier this month – can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster (and that aren’t already covered by a PPP loan). Small businesses may also apply for an EIDL Advance that will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
Whatever your business stage, the SBA offers a variety of online tools and resources to help you take the next steps toward meeting your business goals.
As small businesses are dealing with the impact of COVID-19, the SBA and our resource partners will continue to be there, providing small businesses with expert advice on weathering this storm and returning to prosperity.