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Since 1997 Jim Carroll has served as the Executive Director for the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center, Inc. and Vice President for Small Business for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. The Center provides one on one counseling and training and education programs for small businesses throughout the 18 cities and counties in southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore. As with the rest of the Chamber, Jim has been working tirelessly to address and assess how COVID-19 is affecting the 757 business community. 

Take a look at Jim's advice on our blog and leave a question for him below. Jim will be appearing here on Friday May 1st from 1 to 2 PM to take your questions and hear your concerns. 

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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. Jim, Thank you for joining the forum today, and thank you for all your recent hard work and leadership in the support of small businesses in the region. As the Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center and Vice President Small Businesses for the Hampton Roads Chamber, you certainly have a great reputation as a subject matter expert for small business operations.  Please tell us a little about how long you’ve been in those positions and what exactly are your duties and responsibilities? 
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
I have had the pleasure of serving with the Chamber and SBDC since 1997.  My organization covers the 18 cities and counties of SEVA.
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
The SBDC is part of a statewide network under George Mason University.  Our funding comes from the SBA and local cities, counties and institutions.

We provide free confidential small business counseling.
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. That's a lot of responsibility and a lot of experience.  In all those years have you ever seen anything impact the small business community like the COVID-19 pandemic?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
  1. I thought that, after the flood in Franklin in 1999 where the physical damage was total and the psychological damage was major but limited in scope, I had seen it all. With this, everything is totally reversed.  Relatively little in the way of physical damage but the psychological damage is overwhelming.  In Franklin, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and people had a common direction and goal (reopen the city’s businesses).  In the pandemic, right now there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  People do not know when to start, how to start…this crisis is so vast and, at this point so unpredictable, no one knows what to do.
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. Very interesting!  Well, I know you and your team can help them.  However, are there any statistics that quantify the impact on small businesses?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
  1.   The Association of Small Business Development Centers has been conducting surveys to see what small business owners think. The contracted with Thryv.  These surveys show the following statistics: 84% extremely concerned about the effects of the pandemic; 44% say demand or their products will fall by a lot and 42% say that demand will fall somewhat; A year from now, 7% predict they will not recover, 7% say 25% recovered; 30% say 50% and 35% say 75% recovered and only 21% predict full recovery.  If their businesses were not open by early May , 42% say that they may last 1-2 months and 22% predict 3-4 months.
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. Pretty dire statistics!  With so many small businesses in distress, what are their options?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Basically there are four options...Reopen, Close, Sell (or Buy) or Change the Business Model.  Each has its benefits, costs and risks.
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Amy Jordan ajordan
Jim, thank you for joining the forum.  What are you hearing from businesses that they need most to get them reopened and back on solid footing once the restrictions are lifted?  
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. Interesting!  It obviously requires a lot of due diligence.  As they do their analysis are there questions they should be considering to provide a framework for their thought process?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Amy,
Right now it is money.  They have been closed for so long their expenses have continuously mounted while the sales and profits needed to pay the bills has not materialized.  They need information on when they can anticipate reopening their businesses so they can plan.  They literally just cannot open the front door, turn on the lights and start business.
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Bryan,
Here are things to consider:  Am I up to the challenge of reopening my business in this "new normal" environment.; What changes to my business operations will have to be made and at what cost; Do I have the financial wherewithal to continue operations and absorb all the additional costs (modifications to business, additional debt, etc...); Will my customers still want what I am selling and can I sell enough to pay the bills and, finally, what are my chances for success?
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Steve Holcomb sholcomb.va
Jim - How does VSBDC help businesses with that problem; figuring out their current and near future money (cash) situation?
Steve Holcomb
GENEDGE, the Virginia MEP
Hampton Roads Regional Growth Mgr.
276.732.0440
sholcomb@genedge.org
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Bryan K. Stephens
That's a lot to consider and potentially overwhelming to a small business owner.  Where can they go for help?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Sholcomb,
We have staff who are wizards when it comes to financial analysis. We look at assumptions, estimated costs and sales and look at industry standards to validate what the small business owner thinks.  We can also help them figure out what steps he or she will need to take and in what order to move the business forward, if this is possible.
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Bryan,
There are a whole host of resources available to help them think it through.  Family and friends, attorneys, accountants, bankers, insurance agents, small business advisors the counselors at SCORE, the Women's Business Center, the Veteran Business Outreach Center and the SBDC.
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. It's good to know there are so many resources out there to help them.  What specific programs are available for them? 
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Emanuel Baker KINGCUTS
Jim- As a barbershop/salon owner has completely changed how we have to manage business in the aftermath. What would be your advice to our industry.
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Bryan,
From the business counseling side, the SBDC will sit down with each owner and help devise a framework around which they can build an analysis and decision making process.  From the financial perspective, the federal government still has the PPP loan program active (EIDL is closed) and there are other SBA guaranteed loan programs available (7a and 504 loans).  Localities may have incentive programs, targeted grants and tax relief programs available for their small business owners.  Additionally, the VSBDC is starting a new website:  . https://www.virginiasbdc.org/recoveryresourcecenter/  where people will find a host of information and guidance to use as they move forward.  This site just went active today and I was part of the team that put this together.
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Emanuel,
I have been doing some research into this for the next phase of our recovery resource center.  Here is what I found:

OSHA has a general pub at http://www.osha.gov/publications/osha3990.pdf.  It is very generic on COVID workplace safety.

 

The American Barbers Association has very generic guidance that very closely resembles the OSHA guidelines above:  https://americanbarber.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/The-American-Barber-Association-and-coronavirus.pdf

I have sent them an email requesting any information they may have on reopening guidelines.

 

The National Barber Board has this: 

https://www.nationalbarberboards.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/NABBA_suggested-reopening-guidelines_final.pdf

A one-pager with some decent guidance

 

The Professional Beauty Association has promulgated the following: 

https://www.probeauty.org/docs/default-source/coronavirus-documents/pba-back-to-work-guidelines.pdf?sfvrsn=4afa9a9b_12

This is a pretty decent set of guidelines

 

They also have this:

https://www.probeauty.org/docs/default-source/coronavirus-documents/openingupamericaagain.pdf?sfvrsn=1b43c408_2

General guidelines that look like they come from CDC

I hope that this helps.

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Emanuel Baker KINGCUTS
Thank Mr. Carroll this does help greatly! 
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. That's a lot to digest.  What advice do you have for a small business owner right now?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
Bryan,

My recommendations would be:

  • Don’t think that you can return to business the way it used to be.  Things are going to fundamentally change. 
  • Do not go with your gut when making a decision, you have to think it through and analyze your numbers. 
  • Talk to people (family, accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, banker and SBDC). 
  • Do not make a decision in a vacuum
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Bryan K. Stephens
  1. Great information, Jim.  Thank you so much for participating in the forum.  How can small business owners contact you?
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Jim Carroll jcarroll
The best way to reach me is by email:  jcarroll@hrchamber.com.  
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