How Can Small Businesses In Harlem Stay Afloat During C19?

October 21, 2020

Harlem is fighting to save its remaining black-owned businesses,

reports CNN Business, with New York Hospitality Alliance President Melba Wilson

telling this media outlet that COVID-19 has been one of the harshest blows faced by the small business community in decades.

Prior to the pandemic, only 2% of New York City’s 230,000 small business owners were black, but the pandemic is threatening this percentage further, with many businesses unable to pay rent, salaries, and other expenses required to keep their business open. Although some businesses have a more adaptable model than others, how can small businesses as a whole prove resilient to one of the most devastating crises of recent years?

Keeping Updated On New Grants And Other Forms Of Aid

It is vital for small businesses to take advantage of any opportunity or offer of aid that has arisen during the pandemic. Recently, NYC Council Member, Diana Ayala, announced the establishment of a new $4 million East Harlem Small Business Grant Program. The funds, obtained from the sale of a property that was formerly a supermarket, will go towards helping East Harlem entrepreneurs. Ayala stated, “This grant opportunity will provide some immediate relief to the businesses that have struggled and faced enormous challenges during the past several months.” Businesses in Harlem should also check out the COVID-19 Business Center, which focuses on small businesses and offers updated information on real-world funding support for small businesses, and resources on how to adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Boosting Your Online Presence

Harlem fashion boutique owner, Princess Jenkins (of The Brownstone), reminds small business owners of the importance of making the online switch during the pandemic. Her shop, featuring an array of designer clothing and accessories, is arty and warm, ideal for in-person visits, yet like most businesses, she has had to make changes. These include the creation of online videos so shoppers get an idea of what her shop has to offer. Adopting a similar strategy is a sensible to move for any small business looking for new ways to engage customers.

Improving Construction And Design In Brick And Mortar Stores

Retails stores seeking to attract customers should build a reputation for safety by making required renovations if possible, to ensure ventilation is on point. Shoppers should feel they are outdoors as much as possible, so large windows and roofs that open in warmer months are a good way to boost ventilation. If your company specializes in construction or roofing, inform businesses of how you can make their stores safer from a health perspective through reasonably priced renovations.

Web professionals from On The Map Marketing ( report that for businesses such as roofing, establishing a strong presence is key, not only to attract audiences (via SEO, accessibility, design, and the like) but also to measure key performance indicators. You will need to consistently analyze conversion factors so as to determine key aspects of your strategy that need to be changed and improved. Of course, you also need to analyze the type of content that garners the most views, leads, and conversions.

Creating A Buzz On Social Media

Social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are key channels through which to let customers know of how you are adapting to their changing needs. If you have a restaurant with no outdoor seating area, for instance, you will logically have to up your takeaway and home delivery game. Use these sites to present irresistible images of your dishes, and encourage sharing by presenting attractive stories and short videos about how your team is working hard to stay open and continue serving customers their favorite dishes. Also use your social media channels to present the measures you are taking to stay safe – including the use of masks and filters, and the adoption of strict safety and hygiene measures. Some restaurants regularly have staff tested for COVID-19, enabling their teams and customers to rest assured that those preparing and serving food are COVID-free.

Some business owners have touted COVID-19 as somewhat of an insurmountable barrier that will lead to the closing of many businesses. However, very resilient, flexible and adaptable businesses will survive, and their ability to do so depends as much on their business model as on their eagerness to make key changes. This includes making the switch online, using social media to their best advantage, and of course, dealing with short-term problems by taking advantage of any grants, aid and resources available.

Photo credit: Melba Wilson.

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