Like the rest of the country as we approach the end of the year, Philadelphia remains gripped by COVID-19. As of this writing, Governor Tom Wolf has issued further state- wide restrictions aimed at slowing the spread during the winter season. These restrictions include a fresh ban on indoor dining, closing gyms, and pausing high school sports for a minimum of three weeks, according to a news article by CBS Philly.
While these measures are necessary in combatting the virus, they unfortunately represent further difficulties for small businesses around the state, and in Philadelphia in particular. Countless businesses in the city have struggled mightily throughout the year, and these restrictions — necessary as they may be from a public health perspective — can be devastating for them.
Even so, these restrictions differ from those we’ve seen in past months. Throughout most of 2020, we’ve used protective measures as our sole protection against the virus, with no end in sight. Now, the idea is to get through a winter season long predicted to be a major challenge with respect to COVID-19, and then begin to see widespread vaccinations taking effect early in 2021. This is a crucial difference where small businesses are concerned, because it means that getting through just one more stretch of difficulty could mean the worst is behind them. Activity should pick up in 2021.
That activity will still depend on consumer behavior though, and for that reason we wanted to give some thought to how you might be able to support Philadelphia’s small business community at the end of this pandemic.
1. Support Black-Owned Businesses
There are plenty of Philadelphia businesses in need of hope that are not specifically connected to the Black community. And to be clear, we’re pitching assistance for the entirety of the small business ecosystem in the city. The real idea is to shop where you can, support businesses you like, and give a little extra if you can, because the city’s businesses will depend on rising consumer activity.
That said, we’ve identified the ‘Top 5 Black-Owned Businesses to Support in Philadelphia’ before, and we’d continue to encourage people to seek out these and similar companies to patronize. Black businesses comprise much of the backbone of the Philadelphia economy, and are often afforded fewer inherent advantages than some of their counterparts. So, within your general effort to contribute to the returning economy, we’d recommend once again that you make a specific effort to assist the Black business community.
2. Start Now!
The idea that the end is in sight is incredibly reassuring, not just for small business owners and employees, but for all of us. At the same time though, even a few more months without regular business can be crippling for many of these establishments. So, if and when you see the opportunity to do so, start helping now! Purchase gift cards, order items or services in advance and pay now, request deliveries or safe pick-up arrangements…. You can even simply make a small donation to a local business if there’s one you’re passionate about and you have the means. Small businesses may have the chance to recover in the first half of 2021, but by supporting them now, you can make it all the more likely that they get that chance.
3. Open Your Own Business
If you’ve considered starting your own business before, or you have an idea or skill that you believe could become a company, now could be the time to turn it into a reality! Existing Philadelphia small businesses need support, but the community will also need an infusion of new businesses to help jump start the economy and re-establish a culture of innovation. Starting your own company can make you part of that process.
It may be a great time to do it for your own sake as well. Costs (for real estate, hiring, etc.) will likely be lower than usual, and you’ll have an opportunity to capitalize on a post-COVID uptick in consumer spending. Furthermore. the actual logistics of launching your company are fairly straightforward in Philadelphia. A ZenBusiness post on how to get a Pennsylvania business off the ground narrows things down to just five steps (naming the business, identifying someone to handle its legal matters, and so on), none of which are particularly complicated. This particular explanation is specifically geared toward Pennsylvania LLCs, but this is in fact the most common startup structure — and a sole proprietorship, one of the other most popular choices, is even simpler to get started.
All things considered, you can start a business with ease, enjoy favorable conditions for growth, and contribute to the rebirth of the Philly small business scene all at once!
4. Prioritize Restaurants
Lastly, we strongly recommend you make a specific effort to support local restaurants. This is not to diminish the struggles of any other businesses by any means. But restaurants have been among the hardest-hit establishments nationwide, and unfortunately Philadelphia has been no exception. PhillyMag is keeping a list , in fact, of some truly wonderful local restaurants that have had to shut down during the coronavirus, to give you some idea of how dire the situation has become. And there are many more on the brink. These businesses have had very few options during the pandemic, and if there’s any way you can help them, there aren’t many better local causes to get behind.
All of these efforts can have a profound positive impact on the Philly small business community, and the state economy in general. Please do what you can now, and here’s hoping that in another six months we’re talking about the beginnings of a small business resurgence!