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FunTimes Magazine

Impact of COVID-19 on Small Businesses

By Nana Ama Addo

COVID-19 is said to have caused the most severe economic crisis since The Great Depression of the 1930s. Many small businesses are facing serious challenges, and the overall business world will inevitably be affected. In 2018, the Small Business Association estimated that there were 30.2 million small businesses in the United States, employing 58.9 million workers. In Philadelphia, small businesses with five employees or less make up more than a third of the industry sectors, according to Economy League. FunTimes Magazine speaks to small business owners in Philadelphia to learn how COVID-19 has impacted their industry – tips for bouncing back and ways to sustain a business in light of a pandemic.

Jillian Theorgoodis founder of HR and Benefits to You. She has dedicated over 20 years of her life to developing human resource departments in corporate and non-profit sectors. Jillian holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Temple University, a Master’s Degree in Organizational Health from St. Joseph’s University, a Health and Insurance license in eight states including the tristate area, and is a long-standing member of the Society for Human Resource Management.

About her business:“HR and Benefits to You” was founded to assist small organizations with maintaining compliance in Human Resources and connecting them to pathways and affordable benefits for themselves and employees.

Our company listens to what is important to our clients and collaborates with their decision makers to find the right solution. Regardless of the size of the organization, clients deserve clear access to Human Resource advice and affordable benefit options for their employees. Our vision is to take the guess work out of operations and replace it with clear steps and procedures. Every working adult should have access to some type of insurance coverage to protect them against significant financial loss if they are injured or suffer from a serious illness. No one should have to decide between getting the proper treatment and paying their bills. On the flip side, many small organizations have limited funds allocated towards benefits. There are plans that do not cost the business owner any money. We believe that business owners should not have to experience high turnover or lose their best employees to competitors over their benefits package.

How COVID has impacted her business:Although I am not able to seek out new clients, I have received quite a few calls from small employers who requested my services regarding benefits coverage. I was able to assist these business owners remotely and get them the essential coverage they needed, whether it was Major Medical, Aflac or Life Insurance.

Navigating her industry during COVID:Health and Life Insurances are unfortunately something that too many people push to the side and don’t think about until they need it. During this pandemic, people have become aware that they should think about health and life insurance, and have reached out. The key is to get insured before you find yourself seriously ill or injured. There is no one size fits all to insurance coverage, so I help people determine what “they” need.

Accessing COVID grants/funds, and tips for people facing challenges applying for grants:I have helped my small business clients apply for the various grants. It is always satisfying to hear them call me to thank me for my assistance when they receive the funds. The key is to be prepared with the necessary paperwork prior to applying for the grants/funds. It is also important to avoid any delays in applying. Business owners should be prepared to apply the day the programs become available. As we witnessed this time, money will run out. Apply early.

Envisioning the future of business post COVID-19: There is a lot of talk about a second wave of COVID in the fall. I see this summer as a prime time to help people get prepared. Businesses and individuals are realizing that the cost of a hospitalization or serious illness could be financially devastating. What they do not know is that Aflac has plans that cost around $10 a week and pay cash benefits to policy holders. These plans can be used to pay unreimbursed medical and other household bills. Knowledge of what isavailable is power.

How communities can support her business during this time:We can actually support each other. If a business owner or any individual would like information on coverage, they can reach out to me. My company is ready to discuss needs and email product information and rates. Too many people are unaware of what is available and how affordable these plans are.

HR and Benefits to You caters to small employers, but also has large business clients. We are communications experts in the field of benefits, and can help employees understand their benefit options virtually or in-person. We also work with other brokers to provide enrollment platforms, and a team of experienced health and life agents to discuss benefits being offered to employees. We have people, product and platforms.

Thank you Jillian for dropping these gems for the FunTimes community. Connect with her at[email protected]. A huge shout out goes to Jillian, and other small business owners in the Philadelphia area. A study with McKinsey and Company found that since the pandemic began, over 40% of minority small business owners have added services to their business to maintain and attract customers. Small business owners are innovating like never before, and with the future of business set to change forever, creative capital, and the right resources, like Jillian states, will prove to give small business owners the upper hand.

Are you a small business owner whose work has been impacted by COVID? Send us an email at[email protected].

Nana Ama Addo is a writer, multimedia strategist, film director and storytelling artist. She graduated with a BA in Africana Studies from the College of Wooster, and has studied at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Visit her storytelling brand, and connect with her creative agency on Instagram: @chitheagency.

This story is made possible by collaboration with Resolve Philly.