Saturday, July 31

Veteran Small Business Owners Finding Ways To Adapt During Pandemic

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Many veteran-owned small businesses in San Diego are becoming more resilient despite the pandemic. Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, many businesses around the world are faced with different challenges, regardless of location, size and financial strength.

A survey conducted by Facebook of 86,000 people including business owners, managers and employees in companies across the United State with less than 500 employees, revealed just how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on businesses.

Reasons Behind Business Closures: Health Regulations, Financial Challenges & More

About 31 percent of small and medium-sized businesses have been forced to closed down a few months into the pandemic, revealed the survey. Of the different businesses that were worst hit, 52 percent of those running personal business had to shut down while cafes, hotels and restaurants made up 43 percent, and professional services like fitness, wellness, grooming and many others, 41 percent.

Many of these business owners attributed their closure to the need to comply with regulations made by health authorities or the government. Other reasons for closure were financial challenges and a sharp decline in customer requests.

Business Survival Tips: Digital PR, Adaptation, Loans

Even before the pandemic forced businesses to close, they still faced significant challenges such as limited access to capital, low customers, poor logistics and for some, a bad public image or lack of digital exposure —which can be easily corrected by hiring the right digital PR agency.

However, for more than a year into the pandemic, veteran-owned small business, Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park is still finding ways to survive. The company provides entertainment to children at outdoor parties and events and is owned by military veterans, which according to a survey might be the secret to its survival during this pandemic.

Rockin’ Jump has had to reopen and close its business several times since the COVID-19 crisis began. Co-owner Craig Smith said they were forced to shut down completely months ago after they unintentionally violated health guidelines set by the government for businesses during the pandemic.

“When it’s full with kids, the screaming, and the laughter, it’s like being on a playground at school time,” said Smith when describing what the atmosphere inside the trampoline park used to feel like before the pandemic struck.

Based in Mira Mesa, a community in San Diego, like many other small businesses in the area, revenue has dried up for Rockin’ Jump as there are now no customers with everyone practicing social distancing.

“The bills still continued to show up, those don’t disappear, the rent doesn’t disappear,” said Smith.

While his small business remains locked, Smith is somewhat frustrated that other larger businesses, like large box retail outlets, can remain open to customers. Showing preferential treatment to enterprise businesses offers an unfair advantage, said Smith.

“If you really want to lock things down and try to get this COVID virus gone, make it equitable across the board, close everybody down,” he said.

In a bid to stay afloat, Smith and his business partner have resorted to obtaining loans through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, an economic stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Congress to assist those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the money obtained from the loans are drying up and Smith is running behind on rent, hoping his landlord would extend the payment deadlines when the pandemic ends.

How the Military Has Influenced Some Veterans’ Business Perseverance

Despite the current challenges faced, Smith, a U.S. Airforce veteran and his partner, Casey, a U.S. Marine combat veteran, have refused to give up—and it’s evident that their years of military service is largely responsible for that.

“We don’t get rattled very easily, and we expect the unexpected, and we’re kind of trying to just stay focused,” said Smith.

These military veterans started and grew their business long before the start of the pandemic and despite their current financial challenges, like many other veteran business owners, are choosing not to give up.

With about 250,000 businesses owned by military veterans in California, 65 percent admitted the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed their business, but a survey shows they are still finding ways to adapt despite the challenges faced.

The survey reveals that more of these veterans can still pay for their rent and have enough leftovers to cater for other things. Smith believes that his business will weather the coronavirus storm and rise again.

With the COVID-19 vaccine already being rolled out, it spells light at the end of the tunnel for his business and many other veteran-owned businesses.


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