Scores of businesses have shuttered since the global Covid-19 pandemic declaration March 11, 2020. University of California – Santa Cruz economics professor Robert Earlie in his article, “The Impact of Covid-19 on Small Business Owners: Evidence of Early-Stage Losses from the April 2020 Current Population Survey,” reported that small businesses were particularly sensitive to the major economic shifts triggered by the pandemic. His findings indicate small businesses suffered the earliest losses and Black-owned small businesses were hit hardest of all.
As the smoke clears from the pandemic and economists engage in damage assessment, what is clear more than ever is that the Tennessee Small Business Center (TSBDC) and its mission to grow the number of area small business owners and help existing small businesses thrive has never been more important to the economic recovery and vitality of the mid-South than it is right now.
Fairlie’s research bears this out. “The number of active business owners in the United States plummeted by 3.3 million or 22 percent over the crucial two-month window from February to April 2020. The drop in business owners was the largest on record, and losses were felt across nearly all industries and even for incorporated businesses.” He also reports that “African-American businesses were hit especially hard experiencing a 41 percent drop. Latinx business owners fell by 32 percent, and Asian business owners dropped by 26 percent. Simulations indicate that industry compositions partly placed these groups at a higher risk of losses. Immigrant business owners experienced substantial losses of 36 percent. Female-owned businesses were also disproportionately hit by 25 percent.”
Such TSBDC services as financial and cash flow management training and assistance with a myriad of such critical business functions as human resources, marketing, and government contract procurement, are just what recovering and fledging small business owners need to achieve financial stability, gain market share and lay the groundwork for future success today.
A study by McKinsey & Company found that while all small business owners faced challenges during Covid-19, Black small business owners were some of the most vulnerable. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, about 58 percent of Black-owned businesses were at risk of financial distress before the pandemic, compared with about 27 percent of white-owned businesses. The U.S. Census states that there are approximately 141,780 total businesses in the Memphis business population and 43,949 are minority-owned firms. This means that 31 percent of the businesses in Memphis experienced higher levels of loss that required special intervention from experts with real-world experience in running small businesses in Memphis.
As a majority minority urban center with a large volume of minority-owned firms disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Memphis has a plethora of small businesses that need expert technical assistance from experienced small business specialists to achieve pre-pandemic financial performance and lay a foundation for future growth. To meet this emergent need, the TSBDC has assembled a high-performance consulting team that has more than 79 years of experience working with small business owners in Memphis.
Small business owners who need technical assistance and strategic counseling may visit www.tsbdc.org to make an appointment with any of the following experts: myself, with more than 26 years of business counseling and teaching experience; William Richardson, MBA, who has more than 32 years of experience; Eddie D. Harris, DBA, with more than 16 years of experience; and, La’Breda Morrow, MBA, who has five years of business counseling experience.
The TSBDC has a 30-year history of infusing local small businesses with critical capital by connecting business owners with area banks and other lenders and funding sources. The TSBDC network also has supported small business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals with business ideas by providing them access to the financial and technical resources needed to establish and grow businesses that compete in the global marketplace. TSBDC aims to help area small businesses procure more than $14 million in funding this year.
TSBDC services are free. Small business owners may visit with a TSBDC professional advisor at Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Maxine A. Smith Center at 8800 East Shelby Drive, Memphis, Tennessee, 38125 or the Business Diversity & Compliance Entrepreneurs Network Center at 480 Dr. M. L. King Jr, Avenue near downtown Memphis. Visit: www.tsbdc.org to sign up with an advisor.
NaShawn Branch, DBA, is the executive director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center. Passionate about helping small business owners succeed, he has advised more than 500 small-to-medium-sized businesses, including 54 startups, and has raised more than $4.5 million in capital infusion over the past 10 years.
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