If you’re reading this, you’re probably home due to the city-wide shutdown from COVID-19 or as many Memphians call it “The Rona”. We’re currently witnessing a new normal; a new normal for work, education, family gatherings, and events. But, for many Memphis small business owners and entrepreneurs, the COVID-19 has hit hard. Many have shut down their offices, lost clients, and are working together to keep from sinking. Below are a few stories from Memphians and how they’re getting past The Rona.

How have you been handling the COVID-19 as an entrepreneur/business owner?

Lauren Ready, Owner of Forever Ready Production

“It’s certainly stressful, especially with so much uncertainty. We’ve got to take it day by day.  We’re on week 2 of working from home, which should be easy as an entrepreneur since it’s how most of us got started! But, it comes with challenges. The office provides a collaborative environment and a steady speed. Working from home slows things down a bit. We now have to be careful when approaching our clients and partners for work. There’s a fine line between helping and being opportunistic. I start each day by asking “how can I best help?” The answer is different every time, but it forces us to think critically and creatively about how to solve problems, inspire hope, and work together to get through this. I started a segment called “Feel Good Friday” using our LIVE switcher (from my home office in our spare bedroom). It helps me spread positive and hopeful stories in 15 minutes or less. I’m enjoying that and looking forward to continuing it.”

Scooter Taylor, Co-Founder of QuarantineCon

“When social distancing, shelter-in-place, and quarantine requirements started, my co-founder, Tre’von Hill, and I found ourselves at home trying to maximize our time. We attended a digital conference together and that was the spark for QuarantineCon. The goal was a 100% digital conference for black creatives and entrepreneurs to hear from experts. We had the idea on Tuesday and by Friday we had sponsors like Forbes8, All Def, and The Gathering Spot. We landed speakers like Jason Geter from Grand Hustle Records, Jewel Burks Solomon from Google Startups, and Bea Dixon from The HoneyPot. Over 4,000 people registered from Qatar to Memphis! The live DJ, booming chat, power of technology, and human desire to connect made it more than an event. Now, it’s a community! Since, we’ve talked about everything from another QuarantineCon to spinoffs for other audiences. Our second experience is already planned for March 26th called “Wealth Building 101.”

Howard Summers, Developer/Owner of the Ambassador Hotel on South Main & VP of Operations for Drumheller Packaging, Inc.  

“From the development standpoint things have been relatively smooth. We’re just making sure the contractors on site are taking proper care of their employees, and that construction can still work properly within the legislative guidelines put in place to prevent any spread. Regarding the business, we have taken preemptive measures around cleaning, scheduling different shifts and increasing the janitorial schedule around plant operations, as well as preparing a facility cleaning and lockdown procedure in the case an employee is tested positive. Communication with employees is key.”

What resources have you seen or used that could help other owners or entrepreneurs get through these times?

Aqila Augusta, CEO of Edge Entity

“If you have a Shopify platform, I’ve seen Shopify offer working capital up to $200,000 depending on your record income. Paypal is also offering capital and business loans. I’m sure other platforms are doing the same. These are some hard times for business owners, small and large. I feel sympathy for people who can’t operate their businesses online or from home, or if the government does not consider your business an “essential needs” business. My best advice is to take this time to study your business and restructure your business plans for the future. What is your plan A, B or C if anything happens where you couldn’t conduct your business as usual? Do you have a savings account or credit line for your business? I know this advice doesn’t help put money in your pockets, but disaster planning for your business is still a necessity long term.” 

Ed Cabigao, Owner of South of Beale, Interim Restaurant and Zaka Bowl 

“The Memphis Restaurant Association has really helped out with how to navigate the new rules and find future funding and financing once the pandemic has passed. There are numerous text chains that I am part of that include other restaurateurs. We are constantly checking on each other and trying to help each other as much as possible.”

Cynthia Daniels, Owner of Cynthia Daniels &Co.

“When thinking about resources, I first encourage you to connect with peer entrepreneurs in your industry. Friendrepreneurs and mentor entrepreneurs may be able support with not only funding or staff, but with new opportunities and contracts. Currently, I know Epicenter is offering online materials and resources, Adobe is giving their software users up to two months free, and Facebook is looking to provide a $100M Grant for Small Businesses. I’ll be looking to take advantage of these resources and thinking about how to maintain business digitally, and I hope you do the same.”

Regardless of the type of business, we all know Memphians have the grit and grind to get through this. For entrepreneurs and small business owners from the 901, we’ve provided a few more resources to support during COVID-19.

Additional Resources for Small Business & Entrepreneurs:

Are you a Memphian Entrepreneur who would like to share inspiration and practical tips that are working for you during COVID-19? Tell us on social by using the hashtag #BringYourSoul!

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