Entrepreneurs, how has COVID-19 impacted your small business? You’ve probably had to make some sizable changes that weren’t easy, like temporarily shutting doors or modifying your product or service. On the flip side, change and uncertainty can also lead to positive outcomes. As a result of this pandemic, small business owners are learning how to reach and serve customers in new ways, and some are even ditching their pre-COVID plans entirely in order to launch new ideas that are bigger — and better.

Take small business owner Alison Weinlaeder, for example. Alison was furloughed from her speech-language pathologist job due to COVID-19, so she decided to start something new. Alison now runs Cardiomelon, an online, subscription-based fitness program designed to empower adults to take control of their cognitive and physical health through easily accessible brain and body exercises. Within its first 90 days, Cardiomelon is on track to meet its target of 100 subscribers.

Madelle Kangha was also furloughed from her job as a result of COVID-19, which led her to start an e-commerce beauty product site for Black women called Elledam Beauty.

Small business owner Alicia McEldon wasn’t furloughed, but her business was. Sci-Genius, a program that provides mobile STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math) enrichment to local schools and the community in Northern Virginia, was put on pause when schools closed. Owner and founder Alicia McEldon was able to adapt and save her business by learning how to transition the program to an online format. Now Sci-Genius is reaching students across the country.

These small business owners, as well as thousands of thriving small business owners across the country, all have three things in common:

They Got a Mentor

Each of the small business owners mentioned worked with a SCORE Mentor, who was able to provide expert guidance, support, and assistance. SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert small business mentors, and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. In response to COVID-19, SCORE’s nationwide network of 10,000 volunteer mentors have been working remotely to help small business owners with everything from securing funding to targeting new markets and managing cash flow.

You can request a free SCORE mentor based on your business question or location, and you can work with your mentor through the life of your business.

Having a mentor is extremely beneficial for entrepreneurs, especially at a time when uncertainty has become the “new normal.” A recent survey by UPS found that 70% of small business owners that receive mentoring survive for five years or more — double the rate of those who do not receive mentoring. Don’t waste time googling answers to the wrong questions when you can get free, live help from a SCORE expert.

They Received Resiliency Training

Entrepreneurs are resilient by nature, especially when they have access to the tools and resources that enable them to pivot and thrive. Visit the SCORE Small Business Resilience Hub to take advantage of free educational materials and industry-specific resiliency training, and to learn more about the financial assistance opportunities being offered to small business owners, like SBA loans, or the small business grants being offered by companies like Facebook and Nav.

Entrepreneur Lori Volk, owner of Lori’s Original Lemonade, said that when the pandemic hit, she was grateful for the Small Business Resilience Hub: “We hopped on SCORE's webinar series every chance we got, to see what we could do to mitigate the unprecedented situation and avoid financial collapse of our company. Not only was the series helpful, but we felt connected and not as isolated, as we were going through the most difficult time in our company's eight years.”

They Revamped Their Business Plan

Regardless of the type of business you own or the industry you’re in, your small business has been impacted by COVID-19, so you’ll benefit from revisiting your business plan. SCORE recently surveyed small business owners across the country and found that many are implementing COVID-19 communications and focusing on new target markets in order to better serve customers. You can visit the Resilience Hub and download free business planning and financial planning templates that will help you get started.  Don’t fall behind or miss out on an opportunity to thrive.

How have you been prioritizing safety and communicating with customers and staff? How has your cash flow changed? Have you considered new target markets or methods of operation? These are important questions to consider, and the answers can significantly impact the future of your business.

Conclusion

COVID-19 doesn’t have to stop entrepreneurs from launching new projects, reaching new customers and thriving, but it will force small business owners to rethink how they do business for years to come. Connect with a SCORE mentor, visit the Small Business Resilience Hub and start revamping your business plan today with free, expert help from SCORE. Once you get the help you need, and master the art of turning obstacles into opportunities, the possibilities are endless.


Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the board of directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Weston motivates, directs and provides guidance to SCORE’s staff, its 260+ chapters, and over 10,000 volunteers.