West Center recently sent a survey to our clients. We wanted to know how our local small businesses have fared over the past (long) 14 months and to see how they view the future. 

The majority of our respondents were in the retail field, followed by professional services and the arts. We’re happy that no one reported a business as permanently closed. Ninety percent of businesses are either fully or partially open and just nine percent reported a temporary closure that is still ongoing.

The revenue side of things was a little less bright with 75% reporting the pandemic had a large negative effect on their revenue. But it’s not all bad news… surprisingly, 9% of businesses reported a moderate positive effect on income!

Businesses have been proactive in adjusting how they changed their business practices to accommodate the pandemic and the ever-changing shelter-in-place orders. Nearly 50% are doing more business online and 23% have added e-commerce capabilities to their websites. It’s clear that e-commerce is here to stay. Insider stated in a March 10, 2021 article that “Online sales jumped 54% in February [2021] from a year ago,†and “70% more consumers are shopping online as a result of the pandemic.†If you need help setting up an e-commerce presence, give West Center a call to speak with an advisor. Another pandemic business feature that 39% of our respondents added is contactless payments, which make it easy to accept credit cards or apps like Apple Pay or Google Pay.

We asked what would help small businesses over the next six months with the following feedback: 

  • More customers (65%)

  • More grants for my industry (58%)

  •  Increasing marketing and sales (53%)

Employment is top of mind for many small businesses, especially those with restaurants, which are having difficulty finding workers. We were pleased to learn that 50% of respondents had the same number of employees as before the pandemic, with 9% of businesses adding between 1 and 5 employees. 

Federal, state and local goverments answered the calls for small business financial assistance with a variety of loans and grants: Payroll Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), California Small Business Relief Grants, and Business Innovation and Resiliency Grants. Nearly 40% of businesses received first round PPP loans, which are forgivable under the right circumstances, and 26% received a second round PPP loan. EIDL loans accounted for another 30% and just 10% of respondents received a CA Small Business grant. 

Finally, we wanted to know how our small business community viewed the local economy. To quote some familiar lyrics, 60% said “It’s getting better all the timeâ€; 38% think that “You can’t always get what you wantâ€; and just 2% say “It’s bad to the boneâ€! 

The advisors and staff at West Center are always interested in your thoughts, not just about your business, but how we’re doing in Mendocino County in general. So if you want to get some insights into doing business during a pandemic and beyond, call West Center today! Our friendly crew of advisors is ready, willing, and able to help you with all your business-related questions: 707.964.7571 or visit www.westcenter.org.