- Nationally, around 78.7% of surveyed small businesses reported that the COVID-19 pandemic harmed their business.
- Constant fearmongering surrounding COVID-19 significantly impacted the success of students and small businesses across Wisconsin.
- It also took a massive toll on Americans’ mental health, leading to increased substance abuse and suicide rates.
- The government offered the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which helped some companies keep their head above water. Others had difficulty qualifying due to carefully written rules, resulting in multiple businesses receiving relief checks under $20.
- Governor Evers pushed to tax the forgivable PPP loans given to small businesses and pointed the finger at employers for causing surging inflation.
- Lockdown orders, supply chain issues, reduced customer demand, and less face-to-face interaction forced many businesses to temporarily or permanently close.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on small businesses in Lake Country, Wisconsin, and many other small businesses across the US. Many of them were forced to close their doors temporarily or permanently, especially with Governor Evers’ unconstitutional lockdown orders, which are just a part of a long list of policies that have failed Wisconsin businesses over his time as Governor.
Even though Evers said he was not planning on issuing a stay-at-home order, he threw Wisconsinites a curveball and did it regardless. The Governor also stated, “Please, cancel the happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers, and playdates at your home. And if a friend or family member invites you over, offer to hang out virtually instead.”
He added, “It’s not safe to go out, it’s not safe to have others over – it’s just not safe.”
You could easily dub 2021 “The Year of Fear.” The relentless fearmongering surrounding COVID-19 significantly impacted the success of students and small businesses across the state. It also took a massive toll on Americans’ mental health, which in turn led to substance abuse and suicide spiking.
The Governor not only forced Wisconsin small businesses into a corner but also wanted to push $1 billion in proposed tax hikes in his first budget. He also pushed to tax the forgivable PPP loans given to small businesses and pointed the finger at employers for surging inflation. He blamed employers for “squeezing consumers for every extra penny, raising everyday costs for folks in Wisconsin and across our country.”
The Governors decisions regarding handling the pandemic substantially impacted small businesses throughout Lake Country and the rest of Wisconsin; unfortunately, some didn’t make it.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Lake Country
Many small businesses were forced to temporarily or permanently close their doors because of Evers “Safer at Home Order” in addition to reduced customer demand and supply chain problems. Others needed to adopt new operating methods, like offering online sales or delivery services.
The government offered the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which helped some companies keep their head above water. But, to others, the loans were called a “joke.” Many small businesses faced challenges securing the financial assistance they needed. The rules and qualifications for these loans were meticulously written, making it hard for various businesses to secure legitimate relief.
As a result, some companies received very minimal or no relief. It was called a “joke” and was insulting to many of the business owners receiving $13, $27, and even $1 relief loans. Not only that, but those “forgivable” PPP loans also cost numerous Wisconsinites tens of thousands of dollars in income tax.
Overall, COVID-19 has dramatically impacted small businesses across Wisconsin, Lake Country included.
Many struggled to survive the restrictive orders and measures. Businesses experienced sharp drops in consumer spending, severely limiting their ability to generate revenue to keep surviving and thriving. COVID-19 also created more supply chain disruptions and increased costs, another blow to small businesses.
The pandemic also pushed everyone towards online commerce, adding another layer of challenges to small brick-and-mortar businesses. Unfortunately, not all companies had the resources or ability to make a significant shift in operations so fast.
What the Recovery Process Looks Like for Small Businesses in Lake Country and Elsewhere
Small businesses in Lake Country, as well as other cities across the country, have taken steps to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Small companies are implementing various strategies to heal some of the damage they’ve been dealt. However, costs are still incredibly high amid inflation, and adapting, changing, and overcoming is no simple feat.
- Adopting New Technology. Many small businesses have shifted to online sales and delivery services to ensure they can continue operating. Investing in e-commerce platforms and digital marketing has helped businesses reach new customers, maintain their brand presence, and increase revenue.
- Cutting Costs. Small businesses have had to reduce their overall expenses to free up money for more important things; this tactic has helped many companies stay open even amid serious economic challenges. Renegotiating rent or lease agreements, cutting back on non-essential expenses, and downsizing teams have all been feasible ways to cut costs and keep pushing forward.
- Re-Evaluating Business Models. Plenty of small businesses had to shift their initial direction, causing them to transition to new business models to move with the latest market conditions.
- Building Community Support. Building a strong bond with the community was able to help some small businesses. Reaching out to customers for support, collaborating with local businesses, and participating in community events were ideal ways for companies to gain more support and loyalty from the community.
- Investing in Marketing. One significant way to keep customers interested during the pandemic was to promote their products and services via various marketing channels like social media, email campaigns, flyers, etc.
The road to recovery for Lake Country small businesses has been long, slow, and painful and has presented some serious hurdles. Business owners needed to remain vigilant, keeping track of government policies, layers of red tape, and economic trends affecting their operations.
Nationally, around 78.7% of surveyed small businesses reported that the COVID-19 pandemic harmed their business. In addition, 34.2% reported a significant impact, while 44.5% said the effect was moderate. Therefore, supporting small businesses has been essential to keep them operating.
The high inflation rates also make the wounds heal slower for small businesses. Companies have to raise prices to maintain profit margins as the cost of goods and materials rises. Raising prices can ultimately make them less competitive with larger companies. Also, as the cost of living increases, consumers may have less disposable income to spend on non-essential services and goods, which can lead to a sharp drop in sales revenue.
Finally, inflation can make things more difficult for small businesses when they need to secure loans or investments because investors and lenders may become less likely to take risks in an unstable or unpredictable economic environment.
Lingering Effects on Lake Country Small Businesses
The lingering effects of COVID-19 manifest themselves in various ways. Ongoing financial troubles include decreased revenue and increased costs/expenses. In addition, many businesses have had to adopt new safety measures, like implementing social distancing protocols and increased sanitation, which can be disruptive and costly.
Some Lake Country small businesses have transitioned their operations to online platforms, which requires time and a learning curve for those who aren’t tech-savvy and can also be quite pricey to implement. In addition, the uncertainty, instability, and inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic have made planning for the future very challenging.
The pandemic also pushed everyone towards more flexible, remote work. As a result, employees seek flexibility in their job after experiencing the pandemic, thus affecting business operations and costs for years to come.
Acting quickly and decisively was the key to success for many small businesses. The ones that could move quickly and adapt to the changes thrown at them are still operating today. Some valuable lessons from the pandemic would be to ensure you have financial reserves in place for emergencies, keep your businesses optimized and running lean, invest in digital marketing to keep your product/services relevant and in front of potential customers, and try to keep up with the newest technology to stay ahead of the game.