As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect business across the country, the Women Business Council in Georgia has created an online platform to help empower female entrepreneurs. The chairwoman of the organization, Natia Meparishvili explains how current concerns of many entrepreneurs include their fears for the future, the suspension of startups, and a reduction in revenues. However, small businesses continue to adjust to the current demands of the situation and overcome challenges that come their way.
In fact, census data suggests that small businesses are recovering. As of mid-September, data analyzed by the Economic Innovation Group found that business applications nationwide have increased by 19% year over year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, applications to start new businesses faced a harsh decline but had started to climb in early June. Since then, the numbers have kept on climbing as entrepreneurs are willing to take on greater risks and create new business norms.
Although many individuals are using their nest eggs and taking out loans to fund their businesses, there are roadblocks that new businesses may have to face. With the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds to Georgia businesses and those nationwide, minority-owned businesses have obtained much fewer loans compared to those owned by white business owners. As a result, the National Black Chamber of Commerce predicts that over 40% of minority-owned businesses may face closure due to the pandemic.
Terri Denison, Georgia District Director of the Small Business Association (SBA) explains that while PPP has ended, small businesses still have access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans The SBA aims to counsel small businesses on how to modify their strategies during this period, and how to connect with a resource partner in their area. On a positive note, she also describes how Georgia’s dynamic economy provides the state with numerous opportunities in the supply chain. With the world’s busiest airport and the Port of Savannah, she states how transportation or logistics-oriented business would be a natural fit. In addition, she emphasizes how SBA partners with other organizations that empower underserved and underbanked individuals. This includes the Bank On Atlanta, the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, Greater Women’s Business Council, Urban League, Chambers of Commerce, among others.
For small businesses taking that next step forward, becoming a limited liability company (LLC) is typically more popular than becoming a corporation. While corporations tend to require a lot of paperwork, LLCs are more flexible and easier to apply for. ZenBusiness explains how forming an LLC in Georgia involves relatively simple steps, including naming your business and creating an operating agreement. The last step is to apply for an IRS Employer Identification Number unless it is a single-member LLC with no employees.
Another thing that small businesses should consider is the wide variety of resources available in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Economic Development has compiled a directory on the basics of starting and registering your business, growing, relocating, or expanding your current business, and guidelines for financial assistance and tax credits. For those who are searching for B2B opportunities, useful resources include the Mentor-Protégé Connection, a list of Georgia Suppliers, and information on the Creative Economies Initiative. Lastly, they have specific resources for women, minorities, and youth looking to pursue entrepreneurship and overcome the unique challenges that they face during this time.