I do realize that everyone’s situation is different from what they have experienced from Covid. Spending the time, money and supporting your small business, not the Franchises like Subway, Olive Garden, etc will not keep the small businesses open. What happens over the next few months will make or break many businesses.
I am going to use my small business as an example so people understand the impact and why businesses are not the same as they were before Covid. I own a smaller gymnastics facility, Kids First Gymnastics, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The end of February, we moved to a new location. Knowing there was a lot of work to do from moving, renovations and just getting systems figured out for the new space. We closed for a week to get our feet on the ground and BOOM, Covid caused us to remain closed.
At that point, I realized there was a lot more work to do, no employees to help, lots of finances I needed to reduce to lower expenses and more! During that time I was also having some health issues, causing additional problems for me. I kept telling myself that we have this, I can do this. I saw the funding coming out to help small businesses to survive. Which provided more hope that it was possible to weather this.
I reached out to all my customers, got some signed up for after covid, worked on systems and anything else that came up. It was amazing, because I had customers donating about $7,000 a month. That ended up being enough to pay all my basic expenses plus paying $2000 to keep going with architectural drawings for the renovations. Too bad it wasn’t covering my rent and loan payments.
Each month, for the next 3 months, I was running about $9,000 short in expenses. I also knew I had a true desire to fully pay back all customers that wanted refunds. So I kept a tally of that as customers got back to me. That number kept increasing. Then I realized that with the time, ability to keep kids safe, meeting guidelines, staffing constraints and lack of income to get prepared – I needed to cancel Summer camps. BOOM, my refunds shot up to $12,000.
It’s ok though, I kept being reminded that the government assistance was going to get to the small businesses at some point. Once that hit my accounts I’d be good. I applied within the first 48 hours so I had to be at the front of the line right? Time kept continuing on, I kept reaching out to SBA and I finally got an email. I wasn’t approved for the EDIL or the PPP…
Now there are some serious things to look at and figure out. By the beginning of June, I was in the hole $27,000, owed customers an additional $12,000 and had a total of $16.00 in my business accounts. Looking at a huge renovation cost that needs to be done to get the building up to ADA standards and our clock on the Temporary Occupancy is going because we don’t meet ADA requirements. This is when I hit my breaking point. Could I really do it? Could I move on? What would I do if I couldn’t coach anymore? Tons of things going through my head and there were no good answers for it.
After some soul searching, getting really lucky with a new mentor, the landlord was open to negotiations, the city working with our situation and discussing things with staff I decided I would continue on, knowing that there are still a lot of unknowns ahead, but I knew there was support behind me. That brings us to now.
Watching how people are in the community, things on the news feeds, there are new issues that have come up in society. I think the phrase that really hit home for me is, “America is done with Covid but Covid isn’t done with America.” This hit me because, yes, the business has survived the first round of Covid. It is like starting a new business though and I don’t have very many kids signed back up. In fact, I have about 35% of the students returning from my average number of students I have year round.
So now I have to play Russian roulette yet again, to see if I can survive the 2nd round. Can I get to 70% of my average enrollment before the money runs out. That means I need to double my enrollment from what it is now. That is still 30% less than the average the business has had over the past few years.
My first thing was to call all my past members again. Many families aren’t ready to come back, want to see what is happening, don’t have the finances and many other legitimate things going on in their lives for not being able to return to attending classes. I totally understand it.
What happens over this month or even the next few months will determine if I still have a small business. I know that I am not the only small business in this situation. Please go out and support your small businesses, from gymnastics, dance, cheer, non-franchise restaurants and any other small businesses you want to stay in your community.