Counting money

Small Business Loans and Grants - COVID-19

The very last thing we want to do right now in the midst of a pandemic is contribute to the constant, frantic background buzz that is inundating every newsfeed, and filling every inbox to the brim right now (thank you for the email of reassurance and letting me know that you are closely monitoring COVID-19, Annie’s Pretzels!)

Instead, we are going to practice the fine art of being useful (last week we published an essential blog about succeeding in an economic downturn) and so we are attempting to assemble a comprehensive page with resources for loans and grants for small businesses. These should come in handy to not only help you weather the storm, but also build a strong ship.

This page is a living resource and we intend to update it as new resources are found. If we have left out any grants or loans, please let us know (with a link to contact) so that we can add it to the list! We are in this together! Check back often.


If you know of any other grants or loans for businesses that should be represented, please contact us.

Falling stocks

5 Simple Steps to Prepare for Success During a Recession

As of the time that I am writing this (March 2020) unemployment is on the rise, manufacturing is slowing down and both a worldwide pandemic and environmental collapse of Biblical proportions (hyperbole?) are triggering fears throughout the financial markets. This recipe of woe has been of course sparking the notion that we are on a crash-course for a catastrophic global recession.

Naturally, the thought of an economic downturn has you fretting about the cash reserves that your company is sitting on and how it has the potential to become a squandered fortune. Your strongest competitors are undoubtedly having the same concerns. OR they could be doing what you should be doing and taking the necessary steps to weather the market dip like a champ. It’s important to remember in times of hardship or stress that change is the only constant and where you are now is not stationary. It will change and this panic is temporary.

I invite you to get off that ledge and leave the prayers for the pastors. It’s time to act fast and to start making better decisions for your company! You didn’t choose to start a business and captain your destiny only to be subject to the whims of the panicky, toilet-paper-hoarding masses, did you? I didn’t think so. Take a deep breath and let’s re-examine your fears and evaluate this opportunity. It is time to start preparing to be one of the success stories today – not by luck, but by intention.



1. Find Out Why People Have Said “YES” To What You’re Offering

Here is a great place to start preparing your company: getting good actionable feedback. You can send out a simple survey to current and past customers asking them why they chose your product or service and even if that is the only question you ask, you are bound to get some helpful input.

This feedback could enlighten you (if you weren’t aware already) of your business’s “unique value proposition.” A unique value proposition is what your business AND ONLY YOUR BUSINESS can offer to buyers. And by offer we don’t mean, “customer service,” or, “trust.” Any competitor can claim those and oftentimes they do. You need to figure out what your competitor can’t offer, and what your business can. If you can’t find a unique value proposition, find a non-unique value proposition. While not ideal, sometimes just existing and being an option is enough.

If you want to dig deeper into your customer’s motives, you can always take a look through your analytics and see which pages they are viewing the most or you can look at what pages visitors from Google are looking at most to understand what questions your site answers in internet searches. Unsure how to go about doing this? No sweat! Because we are stellar people, we would be happy to help you out with this for FREE! (Sure, we might see some opportunities to enhance your business with marketing in the process, but that is for another time.)

2. Spend While You Have the Resources!

NOW is the time, while you have the money, to make those marketing and sales decisions that you’ve been waiting to seize for a while. If your competitors are putting their dollars into reserves, it’s likely that they are pulling back on marketing or advertising to create those reserves. Good. Let them create a vacuum in the marketplace that will be replaced by your messaging. No more following in their footsteps and letting them make the mistakes that you learn from – now is when you step into the lead and put distance between you and your closest competitors.

How do you get started?

  1. First thing you can do is start by opening up your Google Analytics account. On the left hand menu, click on “Acquisitions”, then click “All Traffic” followed by “Source/Medium”. This page will show you the sources of your sites current traffic. Don’t have a Google Analytics account? We can assist you with that.
  2. You’re going to be looking for the channels that could be giving your site traffic. Some examples of these channels are: Direct (this is any traffic from a source that is unknown or with no referring website URL) Organic (this is the traffic coming in from a search engine result, or the traffic coming in because someone “Googled it”), Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Email, Affiliate links, Display, etc.
  3. Now that you have all this information available in Google Analytics, you can begin to think about what sources ARE bringing traffic in, and which ones ARE NOT bringing in traffic. If you aren’t running any ads, you can start by running ads through the sources that already bring you visits and see if you can expand that audience. Perhaps you’re getting a lot of traffic through Facebook? Is there more audience there to capture? Or is that audience tapped out and maybe you should be thinking about LinkedIn? It could be beneficial then to go ahead and consult an agency to help you capitalize and run some targeted ads.

If you’re serious about this and you’re ready to take this step for your business, please take us up on our free consultation because we want to help you reach your business goals.

3. Become a Necessity: Turn “Want” Into “NEED”

During the Great Depression, consumer product companies were thrust into a terrible predicament. The prosperous roaring twenties did a swift Charleston swing off the stage, and the disposable income that was once flowing so freely had dried up. This didn’t stop a company like Proctor and Gamble from realizing that people would still need soap in a time of depression. So rather than cut back on the costs of advertising, P&G doubled down, spent while they still had the resources and began to explore new marketing avenues including commercial radio broadcasts. By creating a need and successfully targeting homemakers using episodic radio serials, they were able to successfully thrive a massive economic catastrophe. This is a fantastic example of reaching beyond desire and focusing on need.

Integration is key. You need to offer help in some way, shape, or form. Let’s pretend you run a spa – convince your current and future customers to focus on self-care so they can remain together while everyone else is falling apart. Selling chocolate bars? Dive into the positive effects on the brain that are produced by eating chocolate. Selling new, expensive oven ranges? Think of how much money your customers will save by eating hot meals at home and how feeding your friends and family’s bodies translates to feeding their souls.

4. Get Aggressive With Those Messages!

The word “aggressive” can often conjure up images of people behaving negatively, inappropriately, and excessively, all while causing harm. But when it comes to your business, being aggressive doesn’t mean being a loathsome jerk, it just simply means being active, confident and willing to take risks. Being aggressive means recognizing opportunities when they arise, knowing when to grab the low-hanging fruit, and being able to focus your energies into making people aware of your product or service.

In today’s post-digital world, the playing fields have been leveled and small businesses now have the same ability as large corporations when it comes to reaching customers. You can get the message of your company out through paid ads, blog content, social media, email and remarketing all while being everywhere for your customers and future customers. In today’s digital landscape, it’s easy to create the illusion that your small business can hang with all the other big-shots, by acting like a successful business you may be able to convince the world that you’re the only game in town. If you can gain these skills, get after it. They are valuable. If you want to just rely on experts,  this is what we do and we want to reiterate that, yes, our expertise is at your disposal

5. Become the Only Option

There is a phenomenon where people, given a set of choices, will make a choice without actually choosing. This phenomenon happens to all of us whether we recognize it or not and it is referred to as the “default effect.” Your only goal as a business is to be the default choice.  Rather than keeping up with the Joneses, it’s time to BE the Joneses that everyone strives to be.

In the 22 immutable laws of marketing, Ries and Trout discuss the importance of being first to mind for your customer and future customer. Let them never know your competition so that when they reach for a name, yours is closest and easiest to grab.

How do you do this? By following the steps above. Your focus (almost sole focus) should be to gather as much audience as possible so that your brand name and the market you serve are synonymous. The risk to leveraging yourself in this way cannot be understated. It is risky. It does require more of you and your business than you may be comfortable giving. But, you may also be in a unique position to break off a larger audience for yourself and if it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s definitely uncomfortable for your competitors. They are all doing the safe, protective zig. Will you seize this opportunity to do a trusting and growing zag in their absence?

There’s likely an audience out there today that needs your solution and has never heard of you or your competitor. They are just waiting to find you. Be the first to mind.